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Moshup Beach, Aquinnah, Martha's Vineyard Report.

Summer 2008



Note: The photos were taken in the middle of an excellent day with the textile beach to the east packed with people. The nude area (also to the east but not as far) was also well populated. The beach goes on like this for a couple of miles with a different vista around every turn.

Moshup Beach on Martha's Vineyard is perhaps one of the most beautiful shorelines I have ever encountered. The beach has tall, multi-colored, clay cliffs on the landside and a coast consisting of areas of only sand, only stone and a varying mixture of both in still other places. The coastline is unique in that in a relatively short distance you can experience many different soil types, colors and character. Large boulders punctuate the coast and form a nice location for shade or shelter. Some local artists will even create stone sculptures on top of these boulders like a mini-Stonehenge I truly wish I were a better writer so I could convey the awesome beauty in a small area. Combine this with a tolerance of nudity and it is a wondrous place.

We have been to Moshup's several times this summer and there is a group of regulars who will make anyone feel at home. Not necessarily through contact and socialization but more through what is probably the most natural acceptance of nudity that I have yet encountered; it is the character of the beach goers as much as the beauty of the beach that is so all-encompassing.

Since the Vineyard is an island, it is perhaps somewhat more difficult to get to than most other beaches but it is well worth the trip. There are multiple ferries from Hyannis, Wood's Hole and New Bedford and I believe there may even be one from Rhode Island. Schedules and fees vary based on the carrier and time of year. It is easy to do an internet search on "Ferry Vineyard" and you will get a lot of information. Ferry prices vary a lot depending on what you are bringing (car, bikes, etc.) and how fast you want to get there. It is probably best to call the ferry carrier well in advance to make sure reservations are not required. You can also fly in to the island. Both Island Air and Cape Air fly into the Vineyard from Hyannis, Boston and other cities.

The Island has a good transit system and busses can get you to the beach with a minimum of changes. Expect it to take about an hour if you use the mass transit system. From the airport, it is about 15 miles to the beach. You can take a taxi but it actually costs a little bit less on a weekday to rent a car and then you can tour the island in the evening and eat at many of the fine restaurants in the different towns. As of this writing, both Budget and Hertz rent cars at the airport. Budget is there during the season only. If you rent a car from the airport, take a right when leaving the airport and just keep going, bearing left at any intersection, towards Aquinnah.

As you approach the beach area by car you will see a Lighthouse on the right. Before you get to the Lighthouse, take a left onto Moshup Trail. Within about 100 yards of taking that left, you will come to a parking lot on your right. Parking is $15 for the day and the lot is your only option with a car.

Park your car and head towards the trail to the beach. The trail is obvious and located inside the parking area, away from the lighthouse and to the left of the parking attendant's booth. You will walk for some distance, about 15 minutes, with the shoreline on your right but you cannot cross the dunes to take a short cut. Stay away from the vegetation, the Vineyard is noted for its tick population. Ticks are not on the beach, just the walk to the beach, and if you stay on the trail they are not a problem. When you get to the end of the trail, take a right towards the beach. When you get to the beach, take another right and start walking about another 15-20 minutes and you will come to the nude area. Although most of the nude sunbathers and swimmers will be together in this area, the real beauty starts if you walk further. Go around the bend and you will see the various scenic vistas of the varying coastline character on your left and the high cliffs on your right. You will encounter some clothed individuals but everyone is very tolerant and I've not had or heard of anyone having a problem. In fact, early in the day this entire area is very empty of just about anyone and you can walk for a very long distance and not see another person. Towards the afternoon it might become more populous but it is never crowded.

Technically, nudity is not "legal" however my understanding is there has been a long-standing tradition (decades) of nudity in the area I've described. On a few occasions police have patrolled the area on four-wheelers and nobody has ever been bothered.

The beach and water conditions can vary considerably depending upon where you enter the water. It is best to set-up your beach blanket as close to the textile area as possible with the other nudists. This area will probably have the sandy beach to walk into the water. Going only a few hundred feet further can put you in a stone area making walking out into the water somewhat hazardous. The waves can be calm or rough and the undertow usually isn't too bad in the shallower areas. If you do enter in a stone area, you will probably encounter large sand bars as you wade through the surf. Much of this will depend on the tide.

I would recommend that you try and plan your trip at low tide. At low tide much of the sandy beach is exposed, the surf will likely be calmer and the walking is much easier. The best tide chart is http://www.boatma.com. Tides vary greatly over even a small distance on the cape and islands and this is the best site I have found for Massachusetts tide predictions.

This is a great beach for raw natural beauty, please don't miss an opportunity to visit. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

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