Moshup Beach on Martha’s Vineyard

Moshup Beach, located on the western end of Martha’s Vineyard in the town of Aquinnah, is renowned for its natural beauty and serene environment.

Moshup Beach is a half-mile-long, 17-acre beach that is highly rated by visitors for its natural beauty and serene atmosphere.

Have you been to Moshup Beach? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think of it.

Here’s a detailed star rating based on various aspects:

Scenery and Atmosphere: ★★★★★

The beach is famous for its stunning clay cliffs, known as the Gay Head Cliffs. These multicolored cliffs provide a dramatic backdrop and are a National Natural Landmark.

Gay Head cliff on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Moshup Beach is relatively unspoiled, with clear waters and soft, white sand. The natural setting is enhanced by the surrounding vegetation and the lack of commercial development. It is part of the Aquinnah Headlands Preserve which protects it from development.

The beach is generally not overly crowded, especially compared to other more accessible beaches, though it can get busier during peak seasons.

Activities: ★★★★☆

The calm and clean waters make it an excellent spot for swimming. The beach is also popular for sunbathing, with plenty of space to spread out.

A section of the beach, the southern end of the beach just below the Gay Head Lighthouse, is clothing-optional and is marked by a sign that reads: “Beyond this point you may encounter nude sunbathing.”

Visitors often enjoy hiking along the beach and exploring the cliffs. However, climbing the cliffs is prohibited to protect their fragile environment.

The area around Moshup Beach is home to various bird species, making it a great spot for bird watchers. The waters off Moshup Beach are rich with marine life, providing opportunities for snorkeling and observing sea creatures.

Facilities: ★★★☆☆

There are minimal amenities at the beach, which helps preserve its natural state. Visitors should bring their own supplies, such as water and snacks. The beach has a large paved parking area on Aquinnah Circle.

Moshup Beach does not have lifeguards on duty. Visitors should exercise caution when swimming and be aware of the natural conditions, as the beach is known for its relatively secluded and natural environment.

Accessibility: ★★★☆☆

Moshup Beach is accessible via a short walk from a designated parking area. The walk adds to the secluded feel of the beach.

Cleanliness: ★★★★★

The beach is well-maintained and free from litter, contributing to its unspoiled charm.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Moshup Beach offers a beautiful, tranquil escape with significant cultural and natural importance, though its limited amenities and accessibility might be less ideal for some visitors.


Moshup Beach has a rich history intertwined with the island’s indigenous peoples and its geological significance.

Moshup Beach and the surrounding area have been significant to the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) for thousands of years.

The Wampanoag people have lived on Martha’s Vineyard for over 10,000 years, and the beach holds cultural and spiritual importance for them.

The beach is named after Moshup, a giant in Wampanoag folklore. According to legend, Moshup lived in the area, and his footsteps created the cliffs. He is said to have used the cliffs to catch whales, which he would then cook on the beach. The colorful clay cliffs are believed to be stained by the blood of the whales he caught.

The cliffs at Moshup Beach, also known as the Gay Head Cliffs, are composed of layers of clay, sand, and gravel that date back millions of years. They were formed during the Cretaceous and Pleistocene periods and offer a window into the geological past.

The cliffs are constantly being reshaped by natural erosion processes. Efforts have been made to protect the cliffs due to their scientific and aesthetic value. Climbing on the cliffs is prohibited to prevent further erosion and to preserve their natural state.

In 1966, the Gay Head Cliffs were designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. This designation recognizes the cliffs’ unique geological features and their importance to the natural heritage of the United States.

The land around Moshup Beach has been subject to various ownership and preservation efforts. The Wampanoag Tribe has worked to preserve the area and maintain its natural and cultural integrity.

The beach’s significance to the Wampanoag Tribe and its status as a National Natural Landmark add to its appeal.

Moshup Beach stands as a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the Wampanoag Tribe and the geological history of Martha’s Vineyard. Its natural beauty and historical significance make it a unique and cherished location on the island.

Address: 71 Moshup Trail, Aquinnah, MA


“Moshop Beach.” Buzzard’s Bay Coalition,
“Martha’s Vineyard Beaches.” Dukes County MA,

About William Briscoe

William Briscoe is a seasoned travel blogger and adventurer based in Massachusetts. With a passion for exploring hidden gems and sharing his travel experiences, Briscoe's website, "Mass Attractions," has become a go-to resource for those seeking seasonal attractions in Massachusetts. William enjoys exploring the scenic beauty of New England, spending time with his family and two rescue dogs, and experimenting with classical New England recipes in his kitchen. He holds a degree in English Literature from Boston University, which he believes laid the foundation for his writing skills.

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