The first morning, we headed right to R.W. Culter to pick up four bikes at 1 Main Street in Edgartown. It was a good outfit recommended by the front desk of our hotel. They had a lot of bikes to choose from. They staff was mostly young college guys who were very helpful at selecting the right bike height for the kids. It wasn't long and we were off peddling around the island.
The hardest part of the bike ride on Martha's Vineyard is driving in the towns. We were in Edgartown, and it was a bit of an obstacle course to maneuver around cars and pedestrians.
Once outside of the village center, driving was a breeze. Martha's Vineyard (especially around Edgartown) is fairly flat and easy to cycle. We had an eight-year-old girl with us on a very small bike frame, so we needed to keep things simple.
Our first bike trip was to the easiest beach to get to from Edgartown and is one of the most scenic. It's simply called Lighthouse Beach and is a small beach that surrounds the Edgartown lighthouse. Getting to the beach was less than a mile of flat road. It could have easily been walked to from Edgartown. Every beach, shop, restaurant, and public building on the island has a bike rack, so it's never a problem to find a place to store your bike. We locked our bikes and walked down to the beach.
This beach was great, a bit rocky, but had a lot of character with the picturesque, white lighthouse guarding the bathers. There were a lot of kids on this beach, and I think it was popular because it was so easy to get to from town.
The beach also had a small pond on the opposite side of the lighthouse, which seemed to be a big draw for the kids. Tons of small kids were there catching crabs in pails and finding other small marine life. I always marvel at how kids are able to make new friends at the drop of a hat, with no pretense like we adults have. However, all the fun soon stopped when a young shark was trapped in one of the small pools. He was probably about 4 feet long, just big enough to give every parent a bit of a scare and get the kids out of the pond. (Was that the Jaws music I just heard?)
The kids thought the shark pond was totally cool, but dad felt different, so we got back on the bikes and headed around the neighborhood around Lighthouse Beach. The houses were incredible. These are summer beach homes and each one was a lot larger than the house we call home! They had sweeping lawns down to the beach. A guy can dream, can't he? We peddled by the Harbor View Hotel, which is a grand hotel overlooking the harbor. It has a large inviting porch where folks were just rocking and letting the world go by.
We did find one beach that was somewhere between Lighthouse Beach, but not as far up as Joseph Sylvia Beach. I looked on several maps and none of them have the name of this piece of beach named. However, it was very clean and had a few families on it. The water was calm and the kids had a ball on it. They met a friendly lab and played fetch with him for hours. This may have been a private beach, and we were just too green to figure it out. In any case, it made for a delightful few hours.
The kids then begged to take the small ferry over to Chappaquiddick Island. They really had no interest in seeing the island, but they sure wanted to ride the ferry. The ferry leaves from Edgartown and is a small, flat ferry that only carries three cars at a time and as many bodies and bikes as it can carry. The line for cars was pretty long, but with a bike, you can move up to the front of the line. The ferry only takes a few moments, but is a fun old-fashioned sort of ride. The kids loved it!
There isn't a lot to see on Chappaquiddick; even the old Dyke Bridge where Ted Kennedy had his accident is now torn down. The road was gravel and got a little steep, and Breana started having a hard time keeping up, so we headed back to the ferry. On the way, we noticed a very pristine beach club and decided maybe we could pay the admission and spend a few hours here. When we approached the guard, he pretty much laughed at us and told us the wait for membership is just over two years. Sorry!
We did find a bit of beach, right next to the ferry on Chappy. It was a small little nothing strip of beach, but it had lots of kids. The water here very calm and it was fun to watch all the boat traffic float by. We watched a group of kids taking sailing lessons and our two kids wanted to take the class as well. I have to admit, it did look like fun.
All too soon we were back on the ferry and again fighting the Edgartown traffic. We parked our bikes at the Colonial Inn bike rack for the night and did our town exploring on foot.
The next day we agreed to take a longer bike trip, and we took Herring Creek Road to South Beach. This was a very easy bike trail and one we all enjoyed. The trail is very groomed and very flat. It was easy for the whole family. It's a pleasant ride: in some spots there are beautiful homes and in other spots pretty little vineyard ponds and some views of the harbor. The whole ride to South Beach is about 4 miles.
We loved the beach. It's a big broad, white-sand beach with a life guard, sweeping dunes, and even a porta-pottie. It had some fairly good surf and the kids loved playing wave tag in the Atlantic. This to me was what I pictured as Martha's Vineyard, and I was not let down. The beach was somewhat empty for a summer day, but I will admit, it was a bit cloudy.
On the way back, we stopped at a little grocery store and got some cokes in a bottle, some Cape Cod chips, and some great homemade crab dip and had a little picnic on the lawn. It was one of those impromptu travel moments that will stay with me for a long time. Everyone was happy, stress free, and enjoying our little family.
All too soon we were back to our hotel, and we had to turn in our bikes the next morning. We were happy we rented bikes and can tell you this was the only way to travel.
We did not make it around the island, but many avid bikers do. I am told that Gay Head Cliffs are worth the ride (although you will run into some hills here). We got just a taste, but we will be back for more!