The many lighthouses of Martha's Vineyard's coast protected sailors for years, and today, their stately presence on the island's shores gives visitors a glimpse into island life of yesteryear. While the lighthouses are no longer manned by lighthouse keepers, having been replaced with automated lights, the Martha's Vineyard Museum maintains the lights as historical sites. These three lighthouses of Martha's Vineyard are available for tours seasonally.
Forty-five feet tall and overlooking Edgartown harbor, this lighthouse was once located in Ipswich, Massachusetts, but was relocated to Martha's Vineyard after the original one, built in 1828, was damaged in a hurricane. Gradually, the sand filled in the spit to the lighthouse, eventually making it more accessible for visitors today. The lighthouse is open daily for the summer and weekends in the spring and fall.
Built with private funds in 1869, this lighthouse stands on the bluffs overlooking Vineyard Haven harbor. It was used primarily to communicate to wealthy merchants when their ships were coming into harbor until the government purchased the lighthouse in 1875. This lighthouse is only open for sunset tours on Sunday evenings; visit from 7-9pm through July 30 and 6-8pm from then until September 10.
Travel down island to the southwest corner of Martha's Vineyard to Aquinnah, also known as Gay Head, where you'll feel like you're experiencing Martha's Vineyard as it used to be. The Gay Head lighthouse is one of few attractions here, built in 1799 to protect mariners from an underwater rocky ledge called Devil's Bridge. The lighthouse was staffed by island lighthouse keepers and their families until 1956 when it was decommissioned. Gay Head is also known for its beaches and scenic cliffs and makes for a nice day trip.