If you’re tired of the Martha’s Vineyard bustle of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, Menemsha is home to the fishing fleet and the local folks who call this island home year round. There’s hardly anything there, which is the charm of Menemsha. Two great fish store/restaurants, some shops, cafe, a convenience store and not much more. Menemsha is a place to relax, take it easy, visit the beach, go for a swim, or do a little fishing. It’s a real town where real people congregate around the fresh catch of the day.
Menemsha Harbor is tight, and finding a spot to tie up can be a combination of good luck and getting up early enough to get a reservation. The Harbormaster takes same day reservations starting at 7AM at (508) 645-2846. Call early and keep trying until you get him/her. There are just two town moorings for sailboats ($30/night) and no overnight anchorage permitted inside. One of the moorings requires that you accept rafting of up to 4 boats. There are some transient slips (16 slips and a float at the north end of the harbor for boats up to 50 feet), available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is also a bulkhead north of the fuel docks at Dutcher Dock that provides transient dockage for visitors and unloading space for commercial fishermen. The Commercial Channel Dock (150 feet along the west and north ends of Filled Dock) is intended for use by fishermen but may be used for transient boats at the discretion of the Harbormaster.
If there is no room inside, good anchoring ground and more public moorings are available outside the harbor in Menemsha Bight. This area is exposed to winds from the north and west, but makes an ideal location during prevailing summer southwesterlies. Beachgoers can dinghy, swim or wade ashore and enjoy the wonderful beaches east and west of the inlet.
Once ashore you’ll have a choice of 8 restaurants in the area. The specialty at each will be – you guessed it – fresh fish. You can find a full listing with reviews HERE. A short stroll brings you to several interesting shops and boutiques, including Menemsha Blues, Pandora’s Box and Copperworks. If you need provisions, the Menemsha Market carries basic groceries in-season.
Paddlers should venture into protected Menemsha Pond, accessible via Menemsha Creek. It’s is a wonderful spot to explore in a kayak or dinghy. Do not try to access the pond in any vessel drawing more than 3’, however, as the creek is extremely shallow. You’ll find a nice beach at Long Point. If you’re rowing, go in with the flood and out with the ebb as the current can get strong.
If you don’t want to dinghy across, take the bike ferry and a walk to from the lighthouse at Gay Head.