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Oak Bluffs, MA: Kayaking

There’s a kayak outfit on Martha’s Vineyard that advertises, “You only know it’s an island from the water.” That rang true this day when my husband, Barry, and I dragged our kayaks into the water. His had a rudder, and he could fish while steering with his feet. My job, in my little single kayak, was to watch for fish, and once he’d hooked a striper (hopefully), to paddle alongside him and help him land it into his boat.

We paddled past beach cottages on the sand in Harthaven, past Farm Pond with its floating wooden sea serpent, past kids splashing in the surf at the Inkwell Beach, alongside the beach road with its big Victorian summer houses, past Ocean Park and the gazebo, where the Vineyard Haven Band plays every other Sunday night, and downstream toward the Oak Bluffs-Woods Hole ferry dock, sticking out into Nantucket Sound.

Our optimistic plan was to catch dinner, then row home and grill it. We knew full well we could get all the way to West Chop without catching a damn thing, and then be wet, hungry, far from home, and up the proverbial creek–with our paddles, but with a tide running in the wrong direction.

So we hatched Plan B. If we didn’t catch any fish by 6 o’clock, we’d pull the boats up on the beach just north of the ferry dock and go up the stairs to the Lookout Tavern. Who’d care if we had on those alarmingly unflattering water shoes and soaking-wet suits and T-shirts? For wet kayakers, there’s a great outdoor porch, with a counter and stools overlooking the water. And most important, there’s lots of great sushi, fried clams and oysters, and just about any other seafood you’d like. And beer!

Well, 6 o’clock came and we’d done a lot of fishing but no catching, and a deal’s a deal. So up to the Lookout we went, and out over the water we looked–at the ferries coming and going, and the sky going pink from the reflected sunset. It was just warm enough that we didn’t get chilled. We sat at the Lookout a good long time, eating raw fish and fried oysters, waiting for the tide to turn, so we could row home in the moonlit dark. And that’s just what we did.


Martha’s Vineyard Eco Adventures
Rentals and learning packages.

Island Spirit Kayak
Rentals, tours, and learning packages. Vineyard Haven; 508-693-9727;

Lookout Tavern
8 Sea View Ave., Oak Bluffs. 508-696-9844;

Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce
800-505-4815, 508-693-0085;

More Travel: 10 New England Weekends

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Updated Monday, April 20th, 2009

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