I cut my teeth in Myrtle Beach.
Growing up in North Carolina, it’s simply what you did: Pack up the stationwagon and haul ass to South Carolina to baste in the sun for one glorious week in the South’s redneck riviera. What I remember from those Myrtle Beach jaunts of my youth include fried shrimp suppers, big waves, motorcycles (the South!), and trying — even then — for a whirlwind summer fling.
Myrtle Beach was just about the least pretentious place on earth, which is why we all loved it. So when I moved to New England more than a decade ago, I took a while to warm up to the cold water along these rocky northern shores. Cape Cod. Nantucket. Martha’s Vineyard. Forget pictures, just the names of these locales carried the Kennedy cachet of deep pockets, Ralph Lauren-clad white people, and enough Puritan repression to power a yacht.
But, friends, I was wrong. Well, partly. New England has its snooty islands and beaches, to be sure, but Martha’s Vineyard isn’t one of them.
Yes, it’s expensive, and if you’re familiar with Martha’s Vineyard, you probably already know this — but for those curious travelers who want to check out this moneyed and mythic island, without a real clue of what to expect, this is the post for you.
In the fall of 2016, I headed to Martha’s Vineyard for the first time and the visit blew my mind. It was right after the election, and I’d been selected for a weeklong writing residency in the woods of Edgartown. The island was empty and magical; the tourists had departed, but the yearround residents remained, including the lovable weirdos who round out this quirky isle. I had a marvelous Uber driver tell me about the ways her THREE ex-husbands died (heart attack, heart attack, plane crash!) and then tell me to go see Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish over at The Ritz.
Seriously, I thought this place was for mean rich jerks, but after a week I was ready to pack it all up and move here. Last summer, I returned for a long weekend in the middle of high season with a girlfriend, had an absolute blast, and realized that everything I thought I knew about Martha’s Vineyard (minus the sticker shock) was wrong.