Home » 2008 Martha's Vineyard RV Vacation

West Tisbury, MA

Sunday, July 6, 2008 - 12:00pm by Lolo
0 miles and 0 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Lolo at Alley's General StoreLolo at Alley's General StoreWest Tisbury has a very different feel to it than the other towns on the island. It’s more similar to a small New England farming community than the other seaside towns on the island. The Old Grange Hall holds a farmers’ and craft market every Wednesday afternoon and Saturday morning, and the new Agricultural Hall is the site of the annual Vineyard County fair held in the third week of August. I have never been to it, but it is definitely on my bucket list to do so some day. If I were to live on the island, I could most easily picture living here.

Usually, West Tisbury is not a destination for us, but rather a place we pass through on our way to Lobsterville, Menemsha, or Moshup Beach. That being said, we do have some favorite spots, the first of which is Alley’s General Store and the Field Gallery across the street. Alley’s is kind of a gathering place for locals to sit on the porch and get the day’s news and gossip. The store itself is pretty basic in terms of supplies – a few grocery items, some beach stuff, and lots of nosh. When they were little, the boys used to love to stop and shop here.

Family with Aggy Imitating Field Gallery ArtFamily with Aggy Imitating Field Gallery ArtThe Field Gallery, with its whimsical statues of women dancing, just across the street is one of my favorite stops. A few summers after my father passed away, we used to bring my 80+ year old mom to the island with us. Probably some of my all-time favorite photos of all times are the ones of my mother imitating the poses of these statues.

Also, one of the largest and nicest galleries on the island is the Granary Gallery at the Red Barn on Old County Road. We try to stop there every year now and look at their very fine collection of paintings, sculptures, and photographs. If I had unlimited money, I would definitely decorate my house with many pieces from this must-see gallery.

Lolo in Granary GalleryLolo in Granary GalleryLike most of the towns on the island, West Tisbury also has its share of refuges and reservations. One of the ones we discovered a few years back is Sepiessa Point, a Land Bank property on the Tisbury Great Pond. Much of the roads on the island, especially those leading to the ponds, are dirt, so the RV is not a very practical vehicle for exploring. That is why the bikes have become such an important part of our Vineyard explorations. Sepiessa has a 2 ½ mile bike trail that leads to a beautiful sandy beach on the pond, shallow, but still nice for swimming. You just have to be careful about stepping on a sharp oyster shell, of which the pond has many. Across the pond you can see the ocean side barrier beach. Twice a year a breach is created to allow salt water to flow into the pond because oysters need salt water to breed.

For those interested in history, Christiantown is a very interesting place to visit. Like many other hidden gems on the island, its location at the end of a dirt road made the bikes the best choice for getting there. It’s not actually all that easy to find. To get there, when traveling west on the State Road, turn right onto Indian Hill Road, follow that for ½ a mile, and then turn right onto the dirt Christiantown Road. There may not be a street sign, but only a Private Road sign – very inviting. Follow that for another .6 miles to a parking lot.

Lamberts Cove RivuletLamberts Cove RivuletYou’ll know you’re there when you see the tiny Mayhew Chapel, named after the Reverend Thomas Mayhew Jr., who was instrumental in converting the Wampanoag tribe to Christianity. Hence the name Christiantown, which was established in 1659 when Sachem Josias Keteanummin donated a square-mile plot of land to be used as a the first native American Christian settlement. The small wooden Mayhew Chapel is only open on Sundays, but you can peek through the windows at its tiny altar and six pews. The chapel was named after the Reverend Thomas Mayhew Jr., who was instrumental in converting the Wampanoags to Christianity.

Behind the chapel there is a short trail leading through the Christiantown Woods, where you will pass the remnants of farms that occupied this land centuries ago.

Just across the road from the chapel is a small hill. Follow that to a small burial ground, where the remains of the Wampanoag converts lie. The grave markers contain no names or information about who is buried below.

Indian Hill Road leads back out to Lamberts Cove Road and to what is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. James Taylor and Carly Simon co-wrote a song called Terra Nova, and at the end of it she sings about what has come to be known as “Lambert’s Cove.”

Out of the west of Lambert's Cove
There's a sail out in the sun
And I'm on board though very small
I've come home to stop yearning

Burn off the haze around the shore
Turn off the crazy way I feel
I'll stay away from you no more
I've come home to stop yearning

Lamberts Cove BeachLamberts Cove BeachUnfortunately, only residents of the town of West Tisbury, of which Carly Simon is one, are allowed access to this beautiful beach during the summer. The rest of us have to wait until the off season to not be chased off its pristine shore. We often do come to the Vineyard in late September, so we chose one fine sunny Indian summer day to enjoy this lovely beach. My favorite part of the beach, and the place in which I and a few other sea birds chose to take a dip, was the little rivulet that flows back and forth between the James Pond and Vineyard Sound. It truly is a place worth singing about.


Field Gallery Art with Lazy Daze - LEGField Gallery Art with Lazy Daze - LEGWest Tisbury is located in the center of the island. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Chilmark to the west, Vineyard sound to the northwest, Tisbury to the northeast, and Edgartown to the east. Along with its neighbors Chilmark and Aquinnah, it is considered to be up-island.

Having no port, West Tisbury is more similar to a typical New England farming community than to the other seaside towns on the island. It is the agricultural heartland of the island. The old Grange Hall on the corner of Music Street hosts a farmers’ and craft market on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. The new Agricultural Hall, one mile from the old hall, is the site of one of the Vineyard’s most popular events, the annual County Fair held in the third week of August.

Tommy at Llama FarmTommy at Llama FarmTime seems to move a bit slower in this traditional farming community. Locals frequently gather on the porch of Alley’s General Store to get the day’s news, drink coffee, and glare at the tourists. Fans of Cynthia Riggs’ mystery stories will recognize many places in town from her books, including the tiny one-room police station on Mill Pond.

West Tisbury is home to several Vineyard artists, many of which have galleries in their homes. The Field Gallery, with its whimsical dancing statues by artist Tom Maley, is located across the street from Alley’s General Store. One of the largest and nicest galleries on the island is the Granary Gallery at the Red Barn on Old County Road.

Field Gallery SculptureField Gallery SculptureThe town also has several refuges and reservations, the largest being the Long Point Wildlife Refuge just east of Tisbury Great Pond. The Refuge, which includes over 600 acres of beach, dune, and woodland, is managed by the Trustees of Reservation. It is one of the largest publicly accessible properties on the island. There are 2.1 miles of flat trails through woods and open areas that lead to an ocean-side beach.

The Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary, a 300-acre natural habitat owned by the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, is located on the island’s northern shore along Vineyard Sound. Three separate trails take visitors through woods, across streams, past freshwater ponds and bogs, along rocky bluffs with scenic views, and along a beach.

Lolo reading in Lamberts Cove DuneLolo reading in Lamberts Cove DuneThe Sepiessa Point Reservation is a 173.7-acre Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank property located in the town of West Tisbury on the Tisbury Great Pond. The reservation has 2.5 miles of hiking/biking trails and a half-mile-long sandy beach from which one can swim in the pond. The pond is oyster seeded, so there are sharp shells scattered along the beach and in the water. Since oysters need salt water to breed, twice a year a breach is created in the barrier beach to allow salt water to flow into the pond.

West Tisbury is also home to approximately half of the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, which dominates the center of the island. The other half lies in Edgartown. The State Forest is described in a separate stop.

An interesting historical site in West Tisbury is the Christiantown Memorial, the site of the Mayhew Chapel and a small Indian burial ground. Christiantown was established in 1659 as the first Christian Native American village. The chapel that stands there today was built in 1829. Inside there is a tiny altar and six pews.

There are four public beaches in West Tisbury

  • Long Point Wildlife Refuge Beach – located on the south shore and open to non-residents who purchase a Trustees of the Reservation sticker
  • Sepiessa Point Reservation – the ocean beach can only be reached via kayak or canoe
  • Uncle Seth’s Pond – small beach on a pond on Lambert’s Cove Road
  • Lambert’s Cove – considered by many to be the most beautiful beach on the island. It is located off Lambert’s Cove Road and is situated on a cove off of Vineyard Sound. During the summer, only residents of West Tisbury and their guests are allowed to use the beach.

Kayaking opportunities:

  • Tisbury Great Pond

West Tisbury location map in "high definition"

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