If you have decided to enjoy your summer vacation on one of these two famous East Coast islands, then you should plan your trip well in advance. The reason is that due to their charming settings, pristine beaches, and vacation-friendly venues and events, the population on these two islands can swell from up to 5 to 8 times during the peak months.
This means that it is advisable to book your hotel room or, even better, one of the fantastic vacation rentals as early as possible before your trip.
Once you have ensured that you have a place to stay, you can move on to the travel arrangements.
Each of these islands is located south of Cape Cod and can be reached either by sea or air.
Here are the options to choose from when picking the best way to get to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.
How to get to Martha’s Vineyard
The easiest and most common way to reach the island is via ferry from Cape Cod across the Nantucket Sound. There are several options for choosing the best ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard, depending on whether you are planning to take your car with you on your trip.
The Steamship Authority is a service that provides traditional ferry rides to both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The ferry company has been taking people and vehicles to and from the two islands since 1960. All of the vessels have crews that have been certified by the US Coast Guard.
The Steamship Authority ferries for Martha’s Vineyard depart from Woods Hole at the southwestern point of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They travel to Oak Bluffs from May to October and to Vineyard Haven all year round.
This is the only way to reach either of the two islands with your car and the only service available all year round.
If traveling along with your car, you will need to make a reservation early on, especially if the trip is planned for the peak season. If you are going without your car, you can get tickets at the terminals on the day of your travel.
All ferries covering this destination have Wi-Fi, a snack bar, and comfortable seating. There is also a stand-by for vehicles.
Keep in mind that there is no parking available directly at the Woods Hole terminal, but are some off of the property. There is a free shuttle to and from the terminal.
The other ferry company which covers these two destinations is the Hy-Line Cruises. It has high-speed ferries and traditional ferries. They depart from Hyannis, Cape Cod, and travel to Oak Bluffs. There are paid parking options on the terminals. There is also a Peter Pan bus which you can use to get to the Hyannis terminal if traveling to Logan Airport.
There are several other ferry services that you can use during the summer season to travel to and from Martha’s Vineyard. These include Martha’s Vineyard Fast Ferry traveling from North Kingstown and Rhode Island. Also, the SeaStreak, which travels from New York, New Bedford, and New Jersey, and the Island Queen that you can take from Falmouth to Oak Bluffs, or the Falmouth Edgartown Ferry traveling from Falmouth to Edgartown.
If you prefer flying, there are various flights to the airport in Martha’s Vineyard, some of which are available only during the season from May to October.
Here are some of the airlines which offer these flights:
- Cape Air – from and to Boston, New Bedford, Nantucket, Hyannis, Westchester, and New York Airport – Penn Railway Station (ZYP)
- American Airlines – from and to Washington DC and LaGuardia
- Delta – from and to JFK Airport
- JetBlue – from and to JFK and Boston
- Different charter flights
The best choice for traveling by air during the winter is via Cape Air from Boston Logan Airport. There is also a Peter Pan bus which you can take from Logan Airport to the ferry terminal.
How to get to Nantucket
The options for reaching Nantucket are almost the same as those for getting to Martha’s Vineyard.
The Steamship Authority is the ferry company that departs from Hyannis, Cape Cod, and offers a traditional ferry that takes about 2hours and 15 minutes to reach Nantucket or the high-speed passenger ferries which will transport you there for only about an hour.
If you are taking your car, then you will need to board the traditional ferry. Early reservations for vehicles are required, especially during the summer. But keep in mind that taking your car with you to Nantucket is quite expensive, plus the island is so small that a car may be more of an inconvenience rather than a convenience to you there.
Hy-Line Cruises also offers high-speed and traditional ferries to and from Nantucket.
During the summer, you can also take the Freedom Cruise Line from Harwich Port in Massachusetts, the SeaStreak High-Speed Ferry from New Bedford, MA, or New York City.
There are also flights to and from the Nantucket Memorial Airport, some of which are available only during the summer season. Here are the airlines and flights you can choose from to fly to and from Nantucket:
- Cape Air – from and to Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, and New Bedford
- American Airlines – from and to Boston, Washington National, and JFK
- Delta – from and to LaGuardia and JFK
- JetBlue – from and to JFK, Boston, and Washington National
- United – from and to Newark
- Different charter flights
Will you need your car in Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard?
Taking your car with you to Nantucket is expensive and maybe unnecessary due to the island’s small size. Plus, apart from getting almost anywhere by walking, you can also rent a car, jeep, a bike, or take a cab or bus when on Nantucket.
As for Martha’s Vineyard, you may need a car because the island is much larger, and the distances are more significant, especially if you are planning on visiting some of the remoter areas there.
Still, you can rent a car on the island of Martha’s Vineyard as well, including rentals at the ferry terminal and the airport there.
But if you are wondering whether you can drive directly to either of these two beautiful islands, then the answer is no because there are no tunnels or bridges connecting them with mainland USA.
You will need to take the traditional car ferry to the island of your choice if you want to take your vehicle with you when visiting Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.