Nantucket vs. Martha’s Vineyard; Which Sister Island is Right For You

Happy Travel Tuesday my loves! I’m back today with a post I’ve been super excited to share ever since I visited both ACK and MVY. Today, I’m talking all about these two little islands and which one (IMO) is the best one.

I shared a little introduction to these two charming islands last week, with the words of my favorite author, Elin Hilderbrand. If you haven’t read it yet, you should read it FIRST before reading this post! She does a WAY better job describing these two islands than I ever could 🙂

It’s a timeless debate about which of these two islands is the best one. To many East Coasters, these islands aren’t just summer getaways, but traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. A love for Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket is in their blood. But if you haven’t been visiting these since you were a baby, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.

Separated by only a few miles, these sisters couldn’t be more different. One is big, one is small. One feels a world away, and one feels a little closer to home. One is preppy, the other a little bit more boho. One is a secret hideaway for millionaires, the other for billionaires. One feels like Old Money, the other like New Money. But both are magical in their own way.

However, my heart belongs in Nantucket.

I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes, and knew that is what I would say since I’m obsessed with Elin Hilderbrand. But guys… I went on this vacation expecting to like The Vineyard better. From everything I read, I was led to believe that MVY seemed more me. I heard it was a “laid back, relaxed, escape”. Which to be fair, Up Island was. However, as Peter Gott wrote in his book Summer Windows of ‘Sconset… “It’s hard to visit Nantucket in the summer and not fall in love with the place.”

I’ve never related to a quote more in my life.

So that being said… I promise to try to be fair, and tell you why both island are great. Just know, if you choose MVY over Nantucket, I’m going to remind you, “A bad day on Nantucket is better than a good day on Martha’s Vineyard.” (Although, I’m sure the MVY locals will tell you the opposite.)

Getting There

Either way, you have to take a plane or a boat to get to MVY or ACK! The Steamship Authority will ship you to either, out of Woods Hole or Hyannis Port. It will cost you more to get to Nantucket, but that’s just because it’s further away from the main land 🙂

Getting Around

Because Martha’s Vineyard is SO BIG you need some sort of transportation to get where you want to go. We were very thankful we chose to bring our car with us. Without it, we’d have been left at the mercy of the public transit system. I’ve heard it’s not terrible, however, when using the public transit you really have to be on their schedule. Nantucket is much smaller, allowing you to bike pretty much anywhere on the island. You can also take your car, or use the public transit here too.

Charm Factor

Each island is charming in their own way. When you step off the ferry in Nantucket, you’re greeted by cobblestone streets, bricks and weathered cedar shingles as far as you can see. No matter where you go, you can smell the honeysuckle, wild roses and sea salt, and you feel like you’ve been transported to a completely different dimension. (It’s perfect. Seriously.) Martha’s Vineyard has spanning vistas, colorful gingerbread cottages, and multiple “downtown” areas each with their own personality. No matter where you are are on MVY, you feel like you always have someplace new to explore.

Vacation Vibes

While both islands share a nautical, beachy local, the Vacation Vibes in Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard feel very different. While MVY claims to be the more laid back of the two, I didn’t feel that way. Up Island is. It’s definitely more of the “locals” place. But we found that a lot of the places we’d have liked to see, we had to have the permit the locals do to visit. Edgartown and Oakbluffs on the other hand, felt very touristy to me. Not in a bad way, but in a “let’s get all our souvenirs and drink lots of alcohol while we shove lobster down our throats” kind of way. (Not going to lie, I appreciated being able to get all my souvenirs really easily! #tourist) The dress code however, was very laid back. I never felt out of place in jean shorts and and a Vineyard Vines tee. (PS… MVY is the flagship location to one of my favorite brands.) Nantucket felt less touristy and more authentic to the history and traditions of the island. While we didn’t have as much time to explore Nantucket, even the touristy things we did (like lining up for ice cream at The Juice Bar and walking the Bluff Walk in ‘Sconset) we were rubbing elbows with the locals. The dress code here was preppy chic, and I couldn’t get back on the ferry without something from Murray’s. (I picked an Nantucket Red ACK hat!) Nantucket feels less about the “go and see as much as you can” and more about the “sit back, relax, enjoy and appreciate”.

The Locals

In our experience, the locals on Nantucket were way friendlier. The locals on Martha’s Vineyard looked at us like we were out of place. (Except for Dr. Zach and my nurses at MYV Hospital! They were the sweetest people and I love them.) However, I’ve heard the opposite from others! I suppose it’s just about who you encounter, like any place you visit!

The Beaches

The main attraction on both islands are their beautiful beaches! From quiet ponds to the rolling waves of the Atlantic , you’ll find a beach you love no matter which island you choose! Keep in mind… all the beaches on Nantucket are public. But only a few are public on Martha’s Vineyard. So if you choose MVY, make sure you get a permit while booking your vacation!

When you look at the big picture, BOTH islands are winners. I mean, how can you not be when you’re literally the quintessential place for a New England summer?

But if I had to tell you to visit only one, I’d tell you to visit Nantucket. And I promise, you’d never look back 🙂

Alright guys! I’m off to bed. I’ve had the world’s longest day and I’m beat! Next Tuesday will be my full travel guide for Martha’s Vineyard, then the following with by my full travel guide for Nantucket. (I like to save the best for last 😉) Have a great rest of your Tuesday! I’ll be back tomorrow!


3 thoughts on “Nantucket vs. Martha’s Vineyard; Which Sister Island is Right For You

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