Do boomers really have to go far to find magic?

You might have heard of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, but beyond its fame, you might not know much about it. Baby boomer Crispin Haskins of Toronto does. He is a popular novelist who writes mystery books about the Vineyard, and writes now for BoomerCafé to explain the allure.

When I get away, like a lot of people, I want the warmth of the sun and a swim in the ocean. However, there are quite a few caveats to that statement for me.

I do not want an all-inclusive resort that attracts groups of partiers with their “all you can drink” and “pool bar” promises. I need beauty, simplicity, and good people. For me, vacation life doesn’t get better than life on Martha’s Vineyard.

Novelist Crispin Nathaniel Haskins on his beloved Martha’s Vineyard.

Martha’s Vineyard is an island of approximately a hundred square miles, four miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It is an island of flawless beaches, weathered cedar-shingle houses, and proud people.

And they have every right to be proud. In a world as fast-paced as this one, they have successfully created a world with every modern convenience necessary while filtering out the so-called conveniences of today’s world that are not. For example there isn’t a single traffic light on the island. You won’t find McDonalds or The Gap. There are no familiar chains — why would you want one? Martha’s Vineyard is home to some of the best restaurants and small businesses that I’ve ever experienced. All of them are run by islanders and washashores (local term for people who live there, but were not born there) who know their season is short, and they work very hard because of it.

A lobster roll, Vineyard-style.

Every trip, I continue my quest for the perfect lobster roll. So far, I think The Lookout is at the top of my list. Is seafood not your bag? That’s fine. The chicken wings and French Onion soup at The Newes From America Pub will stand up against anyone’s. You can eat supper in Edgartown, overlooking the harbor, then walk up Main Street in the soft glow of the gaslights, or you can eat a seafood dinner in Menemsha fishing village and watch the sunset on the beach. Either way, you won’t regret skipping the loud DJ beats and cement pool of an all-inclusive resort; I promise.

Gay Head lighthouse dates to 1799.

In my opinion, a lot of the mystique of Martha’s Vineyard comes from the presence of five lighthouses — Edgartown, East Chop, West Chop, Gay Head, and Cape Poge. There’s something romantic and magical about lighthouses. They are symbols of an era gone by. Watching the sunset behind the Edgartown Lighthouse onboard a flawless, ninety-year-old catboat is a pretty great way to slow down and remember all that’s important. An evening sail with Catboat Charters will make that happen.

An often-overlooked fact is that there are hiking trails in every direction on Martha’s Vineyard. You can hike to the top of the Menemsha Hills or you can hike through Samuel Correllus State Forest. Every part of the island has a trail or two for all skill levels. These will come in handy when you’re trying to work off the inevitable apple fritter from Back Door Donuts!

There is a long history of artisans on Martha’s Vineyard. Local writers, artists, poets, musicians, all make regular appearances to promote their wares. You can go to The Port Hunter or The Wharf in Edgartown or you can go to The Ritz or The Lampost in Oak Bluffs. Wherever you go, it’s nice to spend an evening in a place where ‘JT’ means ‘James Taylor’ and not ‘Justin Timberlake.’

The popular tourist community of Oak Bluffs.

I’ve been going to Martha’s Vineyard for over forty years now. I’m still finding new things to see and do. I finally checked off all of my JAWS filming locations in 2014. The truth of the matter is, I can write about Martha’s Vineyard for pages and pages and I will never be able to explain the island’s magic to your satisfaction. Martha’s Vineyard is one of those places that must be experienced firsthand.

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