Why vacation rental off-season on Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard has a definite season and that’s summer.

Officially summer starts on Memorial Day weekend. Summer residents will arrive and open up their houses and get things going. Winter projects either get finished or maybe they get pushed aside by contractors that are stretched too thin. Whatever the case this is the start of the season and the people arrive whether or not the houses are ready or the restaurants are staffed.

But then a funny thing happens; the people disappear. The weekend following Memorial Day weekend is like the weekends in May, quiet and filled not with vacationers but with contractors, plumbers, and painters whizzing around to finish all the houses they promised for Memorial Day. They have just a few weeks left before the summer residents and vacation renters actually arrive. The next weekend it’s busier for sure. You can feel it in the air. You can feel it in the traffic that stretches from the Edgartown Triangle all the way past cannonball park. Each successive weekend builds until there is a crescendo on, you guessed it, the 4th of July.

July 4th is the starting gun and the summer is full-on and it won’t start to slow down. Each island has its own July 4th celebration but Edgartown’s, with its parade, is one of the best. From there the summer just builds and builds into what is now called the BIG WEEK. This is usually the second week of August. It’s also the weekend when the forces that be decided to hold all of their end-of-the-season parties.

  • The Agricultural Fair – the island’s version of a county fair
  • Illumination Night in Oak Bluffs
  • HBCU – Historic Black Colleges and universities meetings
  • MV African American Film Festival
  • Chilmark Road Race
  • Beach Road Music Festival

The last weeks of August begin to slow down with that long slow slide into Labor Day weekend, the traditional end of summer. This is when the islanders begin to reclaim their island starting with the annual Striped Bass & Bluefish derby that runs from mid-September to mid-October. Columbus day is traditionally the last hurrah. Summer residents return this weekend and the weather is often spectacular. The term for this weather is Indian Summer. Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Several references describe a true Indian summer as not occurring until after the first frost, or more specifically the first “killing” frost but on the island, we refer to ANY nice weather after Labor Day as Indian Summer. 

Off-Season on Martha’s Vineyard

Now you are in the true off season. There are cool events dotted through this time of year such as the MV Food and Wine Festival and the Christmas Stroll. These key events anchor tourism in the period up until New Years. The island is now unhurried, un crowded and peaceful. This is a great time to visit the island for something that Monty Python used to say “And now for something completely different.” 

You can goto Vail, You can go to Maui but it won’t be the same as the subtle solemn beauty of Martha’s Vineyard in winter.

Captain Morse House Captain Morse House 12 22 2009 Snow Bound V 600

You can go to a lot of places but spending a long weekend in a whaling Captain’s House during a Northereaster will not easily be forgotten. The long walks through town and down the deserted beaches or the state forest and protected woodlands up island. These are special moments that will leave their mark on you. It is a new and different experience. You aren’t spread out on a lounge around a crowded pool, you are doing something out of the ordinary and you will be rewarded for it.

From the winter of 2000 to 2001 we have been keeping the Captain Morse House in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard open for just those people that want an exciting and different vacation. We are ready and open for your off-season adventure.

Platt Johnson