Moshup Beach

Walk a stunning piece of Martha’s Vineyard’s northwest coast beneath the Gay Head Cliffs on the shores of Moshup Beach, also known as Aquinnah Public Beach. Surrounded by the sound of crashing waves, you’ll find a perfect summer beach day or ample year-round exploration on this secluded coast, jointly protected by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission and the town of Aquinnah.

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The multicolored clay bluffs of Gay Head Cliffs along Moshup Beach

You can walk over a mile along the fine, sandy shoreline of Moshup Beach and below the colorful Gay Head Cliffs.

Part of the Aquinnah Headlands Preserve, the fine white sands and smooth rocks of Moshup Beach provide a beautiful place to walk along the crashing waves of outer Vineyard Sound and beneath the Gay Head Cliffs. You can explore for over a mile along this shoreline: though Moshup Beach itself is only about a half-mile, bordered by private land to the southeast, the town of Aquinnah permits access to the beach below the cliffs to the north and west. Please keep out of any areas marked with “no access” signs, and do not climb on the cliffs or remove any clay; these cliffs, owned by the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, are under special environmental protection to prevent erosion.

We recommend bringing a picnic and setting aside a whole day to enjoy this stretch of coastline. Get some exercise with a long run or walk down the coast, looking out for the many interesting shells and pieces of driftwood that wash up from Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay. The waves here are often larger than elsewhere on the island, providing fun opportunities for body-surfing and boogie-boarding. On calmer days, anglers will find great fishing for bluefish and striped bass from the shoreline.

No matter what you enjoy on Moshup Beach, you’ll find it’s a great place to enjoy some coastal serenity; given its distance from the bustling town centers on the western half of the Vineyard, Moshup Beach is usually quieter and less crowded than other island beaches. And, just so no one is surprised, visitors should know that Moshup Beach is considered by some to be the Vineyard’s unofficial “clothing optional” beach.

You can access Moshup Beach via a short trail from the dropoff area along Moshup Trail. You can also get to the beach by walking the South Head Loop of the Aquinnah Headlands Preserve.

Habitats & Wildlife

The sandstones and clays of Gay Head Cliffs get their colors from the time of dinosaurs, when the sandstones and clays you see were at the bottom of a shallow tropical sea. As you appreciate the swirls of deep purple, orange, brick red, and mustard yellow on the cliffs’ surface, in a way you’re actually looking back in time!

The area around Gay Head is a perfect stopover for birds migrating along the east coast, making it a great place to spot rare species. On any given day gulls and shorebirds are a given, but lucky birders have also seen unusual overwintering visitors like harlequin duck and razorbill.

Size: 17 acres
Hours: Dawn to dusk
Parking: Large paved parking area on Aquinnah Circle
Cost: Parking $20 per day in season (June 15 - September 14)
Dogs: No
Facilities: Bicycle Rack, Benches, Restrooms (seasonal)
Boat Ramp: No
Lifeguards: No
ADA Accessible: No

Please follow all posted rules and regulations at this property.

Address & Contact Information
71 Moshup Trail
Aquinnah, MA 02535
41.341326, -70.832768
Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission: (508) 627-7141
Town of Aquinnah: (508) 645-2300

Please follow all posted rules and regulations at this property.

Moshup Beach
Aquinnah, MA
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Upcoming Events Near Here

Falmouth Road Race
Sun, August 18
Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights,
Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride
Sun, October 06
Sakonnnet Point to Woods Hole,
Buzzards Bay Coalition Golf Tournament
Fri, October 18
12:30PM - 7:00PM
The Bay Club,

Nearby Places To Go

Aquinnah Headlands Preserve

Take in some of the most breathtaking views on Martha's Vineyard from these trails above and around the Gay Head Cliffs.

Menemsha Hills

Hike through Martha's Vineyard's diverse habitats and take in stunning views of Vineyard Sound and the Elizabeth Islands at this large Chilmark preserve.

Lookout Park

See views of Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean from the top of the Bay at Lookout Park on Cuttyhunk.

Find Places To Go and Things To Do

Discover Buzzards Bay

It’s your Bay, so get outside and enjoy it! From hiking and biking to fishing and paddling, you can discover Buzzards Bay at dozens of parks, trails, and beaches near you. Whatever your fancy, you’ll find it here on Buzzards Bay.

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Bay Health: Vineyard Sound

With every changing tide, water flows from Buzzards Bay to Vineyard Sound and back again through Woods Hole, Robinson’s Hole, Quicks Hole, and Canapatsit Channel. This connection links the health – and futures – of Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound, which is why the Coalition began monitoring here in 2013. The health of Vineyard Sound is excellent, ranking as one of the healthiest waterways that we monitor.

Find your water quality score in Bay Health ›