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Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts
—  Town  —


Location in Dukes County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 41°27′15″N 70°33′45″W / 41.45417°N 70.5625°W / 41.45417; -70.5625
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Dukes
Settled 1642
Incorporated 1880
 - Type Open town meeting
 - Total 26.0 sq mi (67.2 km2)
 - Land 7.4 sq mi (19.1 km2)
 - Water 18.6 sq mi (48.1 km2)
Elevation 30 ft (9 m)
Population (2007)
 - Total 3,731
 - Density 504.2/sq mi (195.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02557
Area code(s) 508 / 774
FIPS code 25-50390
GNIS feature ID 0619442

Oak Bluffs is a town located on Martha's Vineyard in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 3,713 at the 2000 census. It is one of two Steamship Authority ferry ports on the island, although the Oak Bluffs steamships only operate in the summer.



Main Article: History of Oak Bluffs
Oak Bluffs was first settled in 1642 and was officially incorporated in 1880 as Cottage City. Before its incorporation, it was part of Edgartown. The town re-incorporated in 1907 as Oak Bluffs, so named because the town was the site of an oak grove along the bluffs.

Oak Bluffs originally began as the center for tourism on the Vineyard. While the other towns were more focused on industry, Oak Bluffs became a mecca for travelers from around the world as early as the beginning of the 1800‘s. It also became a center of the thriving 19th century Methodist movement.

In the area known now as the Martha's Vineyard Campground Meeting Association (MVCMA) or “The Campground“, members of the Methodist church would come each summer to pitch tents and have open air meetings. As these meetings became more and more popular, returning visitors began replacing the tents with small wooden buildings generally known now as Gingerbread Cottages. This name originated from the ornate molding and bright colors that these summer homes were painted and because of their quaint, almost storybook look. With the Methodist camp meetings taking place in the center, the campground expanded in a circular pattern around the meeting area until hundreds of the small cottages sprang up. Later a more permanent structure was built, called the Tabernacle. This covered open sided structure allowed speakers and meeting attendees to weather the elements and gave rise to a community center which is still in use today.

The campground Gingerbread cottages are cherished historic landmarks as well as very expensive real estate. Many are still family owned and passed on generation to generation.

In 1873 the neighbouring community of Harthaven was established by William H. Hart when he purchased a lot from the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company. The community later moved in 1911 to its present location between Oak Bluffs town and Edgartown.

In 1884, the Flying Horses Carousel was brought to Oak Bluffs, where it remains the oldest platform carousel still in operation.

It is still a yearly event to hold what residents call “The Grand Illumination”. This traditional celebration is held once a year, usually in August, and the date of which is usually not publicly disclosed, despite the thousands of tourists the event attracts. For one special night, residents of the Campground place ornate Chinese lanterns (some electric, some still lit with just a candle), around each Gingerbread Cottage. The lanterns remain dark until after dusk. At an appointed hour, people gather in the Tabernacle for a sing-along and community gathering. At the end all the lights go out and thousands of Chinese lanterns spring to life in a brilliant cascade of light throughout the campground. The celebration ends after visitors walk through the Campground enjoying the sights and sounds of an event taken straight from the turn of the century and brought to life yearly in the small town of Oak Bluffs.

On April 5, 2005, the grounds and buildings in the Campground were designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior.

On November 16, 2006, MTV announced that they were going to make a new TV show called "The Bluffs," about African-Americans going to Oak Bluffs for summer, but these plans never materialized after vocal public criticism in Island newspapers.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 26.0 square miles (67.2 km²), of which, 7.4 square miles (19.1 km²) of it is land and 18.6 square miles (48.1 km²) of it (71.61%) is water. The town is 323rd out of 351 communities in the Commonwealth in terms of land area, and is the third smallest community (behind Aquinnah and Tisbury) in Dukes County. Oak Bluffs is bordered by Nantucket Sound to the north and east, Edgartown to the south, and Vineyard Harbor, Lagoon Pond and Tisbury to the west. It also shares a common corner, along with Tisbury and Edgartown, with West Tisbury.

From the northernmost tip of the town, at East Chop Light, the town is just over five miles from the mainland. The town shares Sengekontacket Pond with Edgartown, with the town's land ending and Sarson's Island, but wrapping around the waters around Felix Neck into Major's Cove. There are four beaches in the town, at Eastville Point (along the lagoon road), the town beach just south of Oak Bluffs Harbor, Harthaven beach and Joseph Sylvia State Beach along the shore opposite Sengekontacket Pond. The highest points in town are between the pond and the lagoon, and west of the lagoon in the irregular triangle of land which juts into Tisbury.

Oak Bluffs is the site of Trade Winds Airport, a private landing strip located just north of the pond, as well as a steamship authority pier for the ferries from Woods Hole, Falmouth Harbor, New Bedford and Hyannis Port. Only the Woods Hole ferry, however, is year round; the others are seasonal only.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 3,713 people, 1,590 households, and 914 families residing in the town. The population density was 504.1 people per square mile (194.5/km²). There were 3,820 housing units at an average density of 518.6/sq mi (200.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 86.72% White, 4.31% African American, 1.51% Native American, 0.67% Asian, 2.50% from other races, and 4.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.19% of the population.

Like other towns in Southeastern Massachusetts, Oak Bluffs has had a large Portuguese-American population since the late 19th century. Many of these town residents were originally from the island of Faial in the Azores, and the neighborhood where many of them lived, located between Vineyard Avenue and Wing Rd, was once nicknamed Fayal. Today the town's Portuguese heritage is best appreciated at the Annual Portuguese Feast, held at the Portuguese-American Club on Vineyard Avenue in mid-July.

There were 1,590 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.3% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.5% were non-families. 32.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the town the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 31.9% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $42,044, and the median income for a family was $53,841. Males had a median income of $39,113 versus $31,797 for females. The per capita income for the town was $23,829. About 6.2% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.0% of those under age 18 and 8.5% of those age 65 or over.

Oak Bluffs ranks 263rd in population in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and third in Dukes County (behind Edgartown and Tisbury). It is 173rd in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in terms of population density, and second behind Tisbury in Dukes County.


On the national level, Oak Bluffs is a part of Massachusetts's 10th congressional district, and is currently represented by Bill Delahunt. Massachusetts is currently represented in the United States Senate by senior Senator John Kerry and interim junior senator Paul Kirk.[2]

On the state level, Oak Bluffs is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a part of the Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket district, which includes all of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, as well as a portion of Falmouth. The town is represented in the Massachusetts Senate as a portion of the Cape and Islands district, which includes all of Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and most of Barnstable County (with the exception of Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth and a portion of Barnstable).[3]. The town is home to the Fifth Barracks of Troop D of the Massachusetts State Police, which serves all of Dukes County.[4]

Oak Bluffs is governed on the local level by the open town meeting form of government, and is led by a board of selectmen. The town has its own police and fire departments, with the police being located near Oak Bluffs Harbor and the fire department being more centrally located in the town. The post office is located just east of the Vineyard Camp Meeting Association lands, as is Oak Bluffs Public Library, which is a member of the Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing (CLAMS) Network. Oak Bluffs is also home to Martha's Vineyard Hospital, just northeast of the Lagoon, which serves all of the island, as does the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles branch near the center of town.


Oak Bluffs is served by Martha's Vineyard Public School District. The town operates Oak Bluffs Elementary School, which serves approximately 420 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Its school colors are blue and white. The town is also home to Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, located on the southern edge of the town on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. MVRHS's teams are nicknamed the Vineyarders, and their colors are purple and white. The school has a longstanding rivalry with Nantucket High School, with both competing for the Island Cup on an annual basis.

Notable people

Notable residents and former residents of Oak Bluffs:


See also


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oak Bluffs is a town on the northeast shore of Martha's Vineyard. Its harbor is a terminal for ferry boats arriving from the mainland.

Aerial View of Oak Bluffs
Aerial View of Oak Bluffs

Get in

By Ferry

There are four different ferries that come to Oak Bluffs from different destinations: Island Queen, Martha’s Vineyard Fast Ferry, Hyline Cruises, and New England Fast Ferry Company

  • Island Queen, 75 Falmouth Heights Rd, [1], +1 508 548-4800, [2]. This ferry is a seasonal passenger that makes frequent trips between Falmouth (Massachusetts) and Oak Bluffs. Round trip ticket prices: adults $18, children $9, bikes $6 round trip (all include an additional $1 round trip fee). In operation from May to Oct (exact dates differ each year).
  • Rhode Island Martha’s Vineyard Fast Ferry, Quonset Point, [3], +1 401 295-4040, [4]. This ferry operates from May-Oct (exact dates vary). It is the largest ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. It takes trips from Quonset Point in North Kingstown (Rhode Island) (8 minutes from interstate 95) to Oak Bluffs. Dockside parking is $10 a day. Round trip ticket prices: $75 adults, $52 children (4-12), $6 infants (3 and under), $70 seniors, $12 bikes and surfboards, and $14 bike with trailer.
  • Hyline Cruises, 220 Ocean St, Hyannis, +1 508 693-0112, [5] This ferry has year round operation (with the exception of Christmas) of high speed and traditional ferries from Hyannis, MA to Oak Bluffs. There is another high speed ferry which travels from Nantucket (Massachusetts) to Oak Bluffs under the same company from mid-Jun-mid-Sept. Parking is $17 in-season. Round trip ticket prices: $69 adults, $48 children (age 5-12), free for children under 4, and $12 bikes.
  • New England Fast Ferry Company, 49 State Pier, New Bedford, +1 866 453-6800, [6]. This ferry operates daily from May-Oct (exact dates vary yearly) from State Pier, New Bedford to Oak Bluffs. Round trip ticket prices: $70 adults, $40 children (3-12 years old), free trip for children under 3, $62 seniors, and $12 bikes.
  • AAA Island Auto Rental, 31 Circuit Ave (across from Island Queen and RI Fast Ferry Dock). +1 508 693-0011 or +1 800 696-0233, [7]. This auto rental has been in business for over 12 years. They rent Jeeps, convertibles, SUVs, and minivans (economy through full-size vehicles) for daily, weekly, or longer durations. They accept Mastercard, Visa, AMEX, and Dicovercard and take reservations for vehicles.
  • Budget Car Rental, 12 Circuit Ave, +1 508 693-1911 or +1 800 527-0700, [8]. This car rental has economy through full-sized vehicles with free customer pick-up from most locations on the island. Most major credit cards, such as Mastercard, Visa, and Discovercard, are accepted.
  • Bike Rentals #1 Anderson’s Bike Rentals, Circuit Ave (between the Hy-line and Island Queen Ferry dockings), +1 508 693-9346. Voted number one bike shop recently with its supply of rentable bikes, bike repairs, and bike sales. The shop is open from 8 AM–6 PM daily from April 1-October 31.
  • Vineyard Pedicab, +1 978 270-6150, [9]. Rides are free. Profits donated to charity. Drivers work for tips. Hail us on the street or dial our dispatcher! Also available for weddings, private events, or tours. Open Memorial Day through Columbus Day: 12PM-1AM.
  • Flying Horses Carousel, Circuit Ave, +1 508 693-9481. [10], open from Easter Sunday through Columbus Day. Hours vary in the spring and fall, but it is open from 10AM–10PM in the summer.It is the oldest carousel in America (1876) and a national landmark. Its horses were hand-carved in 1876 in New York City. Rides are $1.50 or $10 for a book of eight rides, and If you catch the brass ring you can get a free ride.
The Flying Horses Carousel
The Flying Horses Carousel
  • Martha’s Vineyard Camp-Meeting Association Cottage Musuem and Gift Shop, Trinity Park (near Tabernacle), +1 508 693-7784, [11]. This is the only Gingerbread Cottage open to the public and it showcases its 1800’s style furnishings as well as photographs and campground history. There is a gift shop with souvenirs of jewelry, postcards, and the famous lanterns. It is open M-Sa from 10AM–4:30 PM.
  • Pecoy Point Preserve, Pecoy Point (located off of County Road via Pulpit Rock Road). There are 14 acres of trails that can be accessed by car (6 parking spaces), foot, or bike. Trails include marshes, woodlands, and shoreline. Free to public.
  • Farm Pond Preserve, Beach Road (before Hart Haven going towards Edgartown). Open all year, every day. Access this preserve by car, foot, or bike and enjoy 27 acres of marshlands and woodlands trails which all connect to Tradewind Field Preserve. Free to public.
  • Farm Neck Golf Club, 1 Farm Neck Way, +1 508 693-3057. 18 holes. Semi-Private, 18 holes, par 72, 6087 yards, slope 129.
  • The Skipper, [12]. Party fishing boat, Oak Bluffs dock. Captain John Potter takes you out for 1/2 day fishing expeditions - great family fun.  edit
  • Cousen Rose Galery, 71 Circuit Ave, +1 508 693-6656. Open from June-Sept from 10AM-9PM M- Sa and 11AM-5PM on Su. This shop contains twenty-seven years of art and prints from local and renowned artists and also features children’s art classes.
  • East Chop Beach, East Chop Drive (located west of Oak Bluffs harbor entrance). Open all year, every day from dawn to dusk. This beach has great views of Nantucket Sound and all of the boating activity in the area. Free to public.
  • Joseph Silvia Beach, located from the first bridge after Hart Haven to the Edgartown townline. Open all year, every day from dawn to dusk to the public. Accessible by bike, car, bus, or foot. This beach is ideal for windsurfing and shell fishing (which is allowed by special permit only from the town hall on School Street). Free to public.
  • Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association Tours, located at the Tabernacle, +1 508 693-0525, Tu or Th at 10AM in July and August. Take tours of the MVCMA grounds for approximately 1 ½ -2 hours and listen as they describe MSCMA’s historical background. Private tours can be arranged. Adults $10 and children under 12 are free, both include a free pass to the Cottage Museum.
  • Martha’s Vineyard Sightseeing, Circuit Ave (behind Mad Martha’s Ice Cream),+1 508 693-0058/4681. Open May-Oct from 9AM-4PM. A fully narrated or private tour with professional guides and drivers. Tour takes route through all of the island’s towns and stops at Gay Head Cliffs for a ½ hour. Tour takes a total of 2 ½ hours.
  • Ryan Family Amusements, 1 Trinity Park (near Tabernacle), +1 508 693-5163. [13], open daily in summer from 10AM-11PM. An arcade and game center with skeeball, air hockey, kid rides, and other games.
  • The Captain's Table, 5 Oak Bluffs Av., Phone: +1 508-696-0220.
  • David's Island House, Circuit Av., Phone: +1 508-693-4516.
  • Fishbones Grille, 6 Circuit Av. Ext., Phone: +1 508-696-8227.
  • Lola's, Beach Rd., +1 508 693-5007. Open Apr–Nov 4PM-11PM for dinner and 10AM-2PM for Sunday brunch. Entertainment nightly until 12:30 AM. This restaurant sells many seafood favorites with a southern flair such as Jumbalaya, Blackened Catfish, Steak from Hell and Swordfish with live entertainment nightly. Family-dining style.
  • The Lost Pelican Bistro, Lake Av., Phone: +1 508-693-3101.
  • Ocean View Restaurant, 16 Chapman Av., Phone: +1 508-693-2207.
  • The Ritz Cafe, Circuit Av., Phone: +1 508-693-9851.
  • Season's Bar 'n Grille, Circuit Av., Phone: +1 508-693-7129.
  • Zapotec Restaurant, 10 Kennebec Av., Phone: +1 508-693-6800.
  • Oyster Bar Grill, [14].
  • Nancy's, [15]
  • Sharky's Cantina
  • Smoke n'Bones
  • Pomodoro
  • Offshore Ale Co.
  • Tsunami
  • Offshore Ale Co, 30 Kennebec Av., +1 508 693-2626, [16]. Open all year from noon to midnight. This is the only brewing company on the island and is a popular visited tourist attraction. They serve lunch and dinner along with their hone brewed beer and root beer. Live entertainment varies each week.
  • Lookout Tavern, 8 Seaview Av. Ext., Phone: +1 508-696-9844.
  • Nashua House Hotel, 30 Kennebec Av, Phone: +1 508-693-0043, [17].
  • Island Inn,Beach Rd, Phone: +1 508-693-2002 or Phone: +1 800-462-0269, Fax: 508-693-7911, Email:, [18].
  • Martha's Vineyard Resort, 117 New York Av, Phone: +1 508-693-6249 or Phone: +1 800-874-4403, [19].
  • The Oak Bluffs Inn, 64 Circuit Ave, Phone: +1 508-693-7171 or Phone: +1 800-955-6235, Fax: +1 508-693-8787, Email:, [20].
  • Pequot Hotel, 19 Pequot Av, Phone: +1 508-693-5087, Toll Free: +1 800-947-8704, Email:, [21]. 9 rooms
  • Wesley Hotel, 70 Lake Ave, Phone: +1 508-693-6611, Fax: +1 508-693-5389, [22].

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