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Aquinnah Public Beach (Moshup Beach)

Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts


Aquinnah Public Beach (Moshup Beach)


Beach lodging


Featured Property Below:


The Dockside Inn

9 Circuit Avenue
Oak Bluffs, MA  02557
(800) 245-5979


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Lodging Listings Near Aquinnah Public Beach (Moshup Beach).




Beach dining and restaurants


Featured Restaurant Below:


The Orange Peel Bakery

22 State Road
Aqinnah, MA   02535
(508) 645-2025

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Dining Listings Near Aquinnah Public Beach (Moshup Beach)





Beach activities and services  

Featured Activity Below:


Flying Horses Carousel

Oak Bluffs Avenue

Oak Bluffs, MA  02557

(508) 693-9481


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Activity Listings Near Assateague State Park.




The Scoop: Beach articles and information

In the words of Dr. Beach

The Best Walking Beach in the Northeast is Moshup Beach, Gay Head on the western end of Martha's Vineyard, where cliffs over 200 hundred feet high drop abruptly down to the sea-an impressive and picturesque sight. The scenery is extraordinary, with a lighthouse atop the multicolored cliffs on one side and views of Cuttyhunk Island offshore to the right and No Man's Island to the left. You never have to worry about getting too hot, as a quick dip in the ocean water will cool you down in a jiffy (but bring water and any food as there are no concessions here). The name "gay" is derived from the lively colors of sediments displayed in the cliff face, which were deposited here by great ice sheets during the last glaciation (about 15,000 years ago). The green and gray colored clays were gouged up from the ocean bottom, while the reds, whites and yellows were carried from the mainland. The clays had about the consistency of toothpaste when wet and squeezed under the pressure of the great ice sheets. They are jumbled together in a bewildering array of multicolored sediments in this high-cliffed headland protruding into the sea. Continuing erosion keeps the cliff face barren and the colors fresh. Last time I visited the area, I found a large shark tooth about the size of my hand and ran into a group of nude sunbathers.


Beach Details

"The beach is blanketed by soft white sand and an endless number of rocks that have been worn and smoothed by the ocean's force.  This beach also has a section where clothing is optional for sunbathers and other visitors."  Read more:



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Map of location  Beach website  Beach weather



Beach parking and beach access
The beach is approximately a ten-minute walk from the parking lot on a cleared trail.  There is a $15 parking fee in summer.


Beach swimming

A guarded swimming area is available daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Rip currents are a common occurrence on Assateague Island. Be sure you know how to handle them before you swim.


Beach water temperature

Click to view current marine forecast and sea surface temperature.


Beach safety concerns

Strong currents


Beach environmental matters

At Moshup Beach, climbing on the cliffs (Gay Head Cliffs) behind the beach or removing the clay that forms the cliffs is prohibited by law as this area is protected.  Read more:


Beach pet policy

January 1-March 31: No restrictions; April 1-May 14: Dogs and pets are prohibited within 100 yards of posted nesting habitat by federal and state regulation; May 15-August 30: Dogs and pets are prohibited within 100 yards of posted nesting habitat by federal and state regulation; dogs and pets are prohibited on all beaches between 9 am and 5 pm; September 1-September 15: Dogs and pets are prohibited on all beaches between 9 am and 5 pm; September 16-December 31: No restrictions. Dog and pet excrement must be picked up and disposed of properly. There is a $50 fine for violations.


Shopping on or near the beach

Towns of Martha's Vineyard offers ample shopping opportunities.


Beach facilities

Moshup Beach has no restrooms, changing rooms or other facilities such as food sales or boat rentals.


Fishing, Surfing, Swimming

Other tips and information

Dr. Beach has previously named Moshup Beach "Best Walking Beach" in the Northeast.



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