Should you bring your car to Martha’s Vineyard?

A question I’m asked frequently while working the front desk at the Madison Inn is if guests should bring their car to the Vineyard. If you choose to bring a car you must make a reservation through Steamship Authority out of Woods Hole, you must find parking in town (which varies in difficulty depending on the time of year) and you must pay the extra money ($137) to transport it. If guests have a few days to spend here, then I recommend a car, that way they are not bound to the bus schedule and can explore the island with ease. If guests have children or elderly people traveling with them I also recommend a car so that they are able to see and appreciate the scenic beauty of the island without the hassle of multiple bus transfers and lengthy town walks. For couples or families who are coming to the Vineyard just to get away, to mostly shop and spend their time at the beach and relax, I would recommend leaving a car on the mainland.

To take your car:

The Steamship Authority in Woods Hole Massachusetts is the only ferry that brings cars to Martha’s Vineyard. It costs $137.00 round trip for your car to travel from Woods Hole to the Vineyard plus $17 more round trip per person in the car. Also, you must have a reservation for your car ( to be on the boat and boats often sell out, and once the boat is sold out, it’s sold out, meaning that there may not be space available for your car to travel on the boat when you need/want to travel. Additionally, you will need to find parking for your can once you’re here on-island and that can sometimes be the real hassle..

Or leave it on the Mainland:

Bring your car to 275 Falmouth Rd, Falmouth MA, 02540, and park it at the Steamship Authority Ferry parking lot ($12-15 per calendar day), take the free shuttle the last 5 minutes to Woods Hole, and get on the Steamship Authority Ferry as a walk-on passenger ($17 round-trip adults; $9 round-trip children 5-12; $9 round-trip bicycles). Please note that there is no parking available at the Woods Hole ferry terminal. However, the Steamship Authority operates several paring lots in Falmouth. To get real time information about parking lot availability call 508-457-7275. Otherwise, for reservations and information call 508-477-8600.

No car? No worries!

Once you get to the Vineyard you can get around by taxi or public bus (and now uber!), or you can rent a car or bike. Just a tiny public service announcement.. There are lots of mopeds available for rent on the Vineyard for around $60-100 a day, BUT you will be scowled at by every local except the one that took your money. You will be honked at and you will be frequently scared as you wobble around at less than the speed limit on narrow roads that are often covered by a thin layer of sand. We do not EVER recommend mopeds. That being said, you are all adults, but just do us/me a solid and check the prices and availability at MV Auto Rental first (and we have $10 off coupons in our Lobby!).

mopeds are dangerous_30_ - 10 jul 06


How to get to Martha’s Vineyard without a car

Plan A:

Bus & Boat Method: Cost effective, slightly time consuming, and by far the most popular method of travel. The bus ride from Logan to Woods Hole takes about 2.5 hours (driving in your own car would take 90 minutes, plus parking and shuttle bus trip to the ferry dock). The one-way ferry ride from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard ( is approximately 45 minutes and costs $8.50.

Peter Pan Bus



Some tips from a Pro:
Check the bus schedule, like right now

If you are still in the planning phase of your travel arrangements, take a moment to check the Peter Pan bus schedule from Boston Logan Airport to Woods Hole ( Try and select a flight that arrives an hour to an hour and a half before there is a scheduled bus to Woods Hole. Less than an hour is pushing it, if there is any sort of delay in your travel plans, and more than an hour and a half is really too much time to be waiting around. During the summer busses come frequently, but if you are coming to the Vineyard in the shoulder season the busses only run every few hours so it is good to be aware of the schedule before securing airfare.

Purchase tickets in advance

I highly recommend purchasing bus tickets in advance, especially if you are planning to travel on a weekend or anytime in July and August. That being said, be sure that you feel confident you can make the bus in good time because if for one reason or another you miss your bus, things can get a little hairy. Peter Pan gives their bus drivers the right to reject your ticket and require that you purchase a new one if you missed your previous bus. If you decide to purchase the tickets from the bus driver directly, be aware that they only accept cash and the tickets are a few dollars more expensive than the online ticket price.

Buses meet boats (…but buses can be late)

In general, all the Peter Pan buses are scheduled to arrive approximately 30 minutes prior to a departing ferry, so that passengers can board the boat as soon as they get to Woods Hole. That being said, please try not to catch the last bus and meet the last boat; there is traffic, buses occasionally break down, bad weather can shut down the boat; try for an early bus; just trust me.

Okay, so you’re at the airport, you get off the plane, make your way to baggage claim, you collect your bags, now what? Go outside to the curb and follow the signs “Scheduled Buses”, usually it is at the far end of the terminal. If you get lost, please do not hesitate to ask an employee or locate the information desk and as for help. When you find your way to the bus, get on and do not get off until you see a boat, it is the last stop.

What if you JUST missed the Peter Pan Bus      

Do not panic yet! Most buses that stop at Boston Logan Airport will stop at South Station afterwards for about a half an hour (check this by going to the Peter Pan website and checking the stops on your scheduled bus). Now you have a crucial decision to make. Either you can pay for a taxi to south station (taxis are plentiful at the airport) OR you can take the free Silverline bus to south station, which comes about every 10 minute. I have done both and made the bus with a few minutes to spare. I’ll tell you right now, it will be a stressful half hour regardless, but it is usually worth it to save yourself from spending an extra hour or more at the airport. If for some reason you miss that bus too, you can wait it out, just be sure that the next bus will also stop at South Station.

Plan Backup:

Fly. Many people do not know this, but Martha’s Vineyard does in fact have an airport, two airports in fact, though one is just a grassy field. Flying is far and away the most efficient way to get to the Vineyard, but not always cost effective. My Dad is always telling me that “time is money”, so if you have limited time, and you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks to minimize traveling time, take a few moments to check out American, JetBlue, United, Delta or US Air. All of these airlines either fly their own planes to the island or they have ticketing and baggage agreements with Cape Air to fly from Logan Airport to Martha’s Vineyard. A word of caution for the nervous flyer, Cape Air flights are small, like 10 seats, no copilot, no bathroom, no flight attendant small. On the plus side, the flights are only 35 minutes and provide a lovely birds eye view of the island. Jet Blue also offers larger (and more comfortable) flights to the Vineyard out of both Boston and New York. Once you get to the Vineyard you can take the bus or a taxi to get to Oak Bluffs (or wherever your final destination may be).

How the island’s best fish tacos and margaritas begat the Nashua House, the Madison Inn and the Dockside Inn

Zapotec Exterior
I came to MV originally as lots of people do, as a tourist. In March of 1989 I was living in Denver when a friend of mine invited me along for a two-week stay at his family’s summer home in Vineyard Haven. At that point in my life I had never been east of Chicago, so I accepted the invitation gladly. Continue reading