It’s hard to fathom that Martha’s Vineyard would have any unexplored ground with over 150,000 visitors each year. Yet, there are relatively unknown beaches and hikes that are less visited, and dare we say - almost secret. Head for these beaches and hiking trails when you prefer to go off the beaten path.
Secret Beaches of Martha’s Vineyard
1. Great Rock Bight in Chilmark
Admittedly, this pristine swimming beach facing Vineyard Sound takes some effort to find. Part of the reason it’s not more crowded is the lengthy hike to get there--but it’s well worth it. Here’s how.
Turn right along North Road onto “old” Brickyard Road. Then go through the woods to the wooded parking lot of the Great Rock Bight nature reserve. Follow down the path and descend the steep wooden stairs to the beach and you’ve found it. .
2. Sepiessa Point Reservation in West Tisbury
Sepiessa Point Reservation holds another hidden beach gem on the shores of Tisbury Great Pond. It offers distant views of the ocean, and the generally calm pond is a short walk from the parking lot.
To get there, travel New Lane and look for a small wooden sign (“Clam Point Cove”), where you’ll turn and then park in the small lot.
This quiet cove is perfect for birdwatchers. But watch your feet, since this beach is seeded for oysters, which can be sharp.
3. Philbin Beach in Aquinnah
Philbin Beach is considered a residents’ only beach because the parking lot requires a town sticker. Few know that non-residents are welcome to use the beach if they leave the car behind. Simply take the bus or a taxi to enjoy stunning views of the Atlantic minus the crowds.
4. Wilfred’s Pond in Vineyard Haven
This barrier pond is separated from the ocean by a coastal beach and might just be one of the best places to catch the sunset on Martha’s Vineyard. Rather than heading to more popular sunset hotspots, this beach is sure to offer a far more private viewing.
To get there, turn right from Daggat Ave onto Herring Creek Road (the second dirt road when traveling toward Lake Tashmoo). Follow the dirt tracks to Wilfred’s Pond.
5. East Beach in Chappaquiddick
Pristine East Beach is perfect for swimming and surf-fishing for bluefish and striped bass. It’s a well-preserved half-mile of beachfront property linking Wasque Reservation and the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge.
To visit, take the ferry to Chappaquiddick. You can park before or after the bridge on Dike Bridge Road or use the Wasque Reservation entrance. Expect to pay a nominal donation fee to the trustees but since there’s no commercial real estate development whatsoever, it’s money well-spent.
Martha’s Vineyard’s Secret Hiking Trails
1. Philips Preserve Hike in Vineyard Haven
With over 70 acres to explore at Philips Preserve, opt for the lovely woodland hike that winds through the woods to Aunt Rhoda’s Pond. It provides lovely views across Lake Tashmo.
You can reach the trail on Army Road, which has very limited parking, or by bike from the Nobnocket Boutique Inn. The trail to the right of the parking lot is hilly and goes through the forest.
Keep your eyes peeled for all kinds of wildlife! It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset over the lake. Just be sure to bring a flashlight for a safe return.
2. Tisbury Meadow Preserve in Vineyard Haven
Another lesser-traveled trail in Martha’s Vineyard is the Tisbury Meadow Preserve. The trailhead of this 84-acre property is on State Road near the Scottish Bakehouse. Choose from several loops that meander through the woods or circumnavigate the pasture. This is a great trail for off-road biking, too.
3. Tisbury Great Pond Beach Trail near Tisbury
Love to hike by the water? Then check out the Tisbury Great Pond Beach Trail. This 2.5 mile walk passes by several natural habitats along the coast of Tisbury Great Pond, including meadows and grasslands. At low tide, the end of the trail reveals a strip of sandy beach you may have all to yourself!
4. Poucha Pond in Chappaquiddick
The 2.2 mile sloping trail on Poucha Pond Reservation provides breathtaking views of the lake and marsh. With any luck, expect to see some elegant egrets and herons. This trail gives way to spectacular views of Nantucket sound and the Nantucket Islands.
5. Christiantown Woods Preserve in West Tisbury
Christiantown Wood Preserve in West Tisbury is named for Native American congregations who lived there after converting to Christianity. This is perhaps the most hidden of the Martha’s Vineyard hikes, but well worth the adventure. If you’re lucky, you’ll also take a walk back in history when you find the small chapel, a secret root cellar, and an old graveyard.