The Martha's Vineyard lighthouses are quite numerous, which gives testament to the islands rich maritime history. There are actually five total, and they all have their own unique charm. Much of this charm is historic charm, though it might just be the picturesque nature of lighthouses in general that makes them such popular attractions. Those who want to do more than admire them from the outside can always hope to venture inside for a look. Summer is when you can most expect to find a Martha's Vineyard lighthouse that is open to visitors, and right around sunset is arguably the best time to enjoy the views from the top.
Cape Poge Lighthouse
Unlike the other Martha's Vineyard lighthouses, the Cape Poge Lighthouse isn't found on Martha's Vineyard proper. Instead, it calls the adjacent island of Chappaquiddick home. This makes it the most remote lighthouse of the bunch. The lighthouse that you see today at Cape Poge isn't the original. In fact, a few lighthouses previously stood in the same general area, but they met their demise at the hands of the sea. The current model dates back to 1922 and stands at a height of 55 feet. It is possible to tour the Cape Poge Lighthouse if you make a reservation with the Trustees of Reservations, and during the summer, it sometimes opens to the public. A four-wheel-drive vehicle or a mountain bike are among the best means of transportation.
Gay Head Lighthouse/Aquinnah Lighthouse
The Gay Head Lighthouse, or the Aquinnah Lighthouse as it is also known, stands close to the edge of the famed Aquinnah Cliffs, which is part of the reason why it is such a delight to behold. Boasting a red brick exterior, this lighthouse was constructed in 1844, and after it was taken to Paris to be shown off a the World's Fair, its Fresnel lens was installed. This lens can be viewed at the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society in Edgartown. There is a popular lookout area near the Gay Head Lighthouse, and if you wish to enjoy a tour, it is open at sunset from mid-June to mid-September.
East Chop Lighthouse
Oak Bluffs is where you will find the East Chop Lighthouse, and thanks in part to the structure's bright white exterior, it is hard to miss. This lighthouse wasn't always bright white, however. Made out of cast-iron and built in 1875, it was originally painted a reddish-brown color, which led to its nickname as the Chocolate Lighthouse. You can drop by for a tour of the East Chop Lighthouse on Sunday evenings between late June and mid-September. It is perched nearly 80 feet high on a cliff above the sea, and the views from the site are worth the visit alone.
Similar in appearance to the East Chop Lighthouse is the Edgartown Lighthouse. Both are bright white with small windows on the sides and a black lantern house. The Edgartown Harbor is where you will find the Edgartown Lighthouse, and you might appreciate the fact that the grounds are open all year long. If you want to learn more about this structure by venturing inside for a look, it accepts visitors from late May to mid-October. June 21 through September 6 is the best time to visit if you want to enjoy a tour. The Edgartown Lighthouse is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer season. The opening days and hours vary considerably outside of this season, so you will want to plan ahead. As is true of lighthouse tours in general, the tours are available weather permitting.
West Chop Lighthouse
Rounding out the five Martha's Vineyard Lighthouses is the West Chop Lighthouse, which is found in Tisbury, or Vineyard Haven, as the town is more commonly referred to. The Vineyard Haven Harbor is the more exact location, and it is interesting to note that it has been moved back on more than one occasion to avoid being laid to waste by the sea. The current West Chop Lighthouse is made of brick, and it dates back to 1838. At its base is a caretaker's cottage, and it is often occupied by a member of the Coast Guard. Since the West Chop Lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard, the grounds and the tower itself are closed to the public.