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Polly Hill Arboretum, Martha's Vineyard

Polly Hill Arboretum, Martha’s Vineyard

Monomoy Island, Chatham
A secluded island off the coast of Chatham, and accessible only by boat, Monomoy Island is an excellent spot to take in the Cape’s wildlife, especially seals and a diverse population of seabirds.

The Monomoy Island Ferry offers daily excursions from Stage Harbor Marine in Chatham to South Monomoy Island, the site of the recently restored Monomoy Light. “It’s part of the Monomoy National Refuge,” says ferry captain Keith Lincoln, “and it’s full of natural beauty.” Once on the island, a naturalist leads a guided tour offering pointers on Monomoy’s unique history, geology and wildlife. The Monomoy Island Ferry also offers seal and whale cruises, and is available for private chartered tours. Learn more at

The Dunes of Provincetown
As the last town at the very tip of the Cape, Provincetown has an allure all its own. While a day can easily be spent perusing shops on Commercial Street or setting off on a whale-watch, Provincetown also boasts preserved natural areas with awe-inspiring scenery.

Light says a hike through Provincetown’s famous sand dunes offers visitors a glimpse of what Provincetown would have looked like when the Pilgrims arrived just under four centuries ago. “You can go up and down through the dunes,” Light says. “It is surreal out there; you can’t see any other civilization.” In the dunes the only semblance of humanity are the dozen or so dune shacks sprinkled hither and yon where writers and artists, such as Eugene O’Neill, E.E. Cummings and Jackson Pollock, have flocked for decades.
Light estimates the dunes—including areas in Truro—total 15 to 20 miles of trails. Visitors can choose their own adventure. A parking area is located off Route 6, on Snail Road near the trailhead. Learn more at

Visit the Vineyard—and Polly Hill Arboretum
A daytrip to Martha’s Vineyard is just a short ferry ride from Woods Hole or Hyannis. The island offers so much—from shopping and beaches, to wonderful restaurants and scenic lighthouses. After breakfast or lunch, visitors looking to spend time off the beaten path should consider a walk through the peaceful Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury.

“There are so many layers that make Polly Hill special,” says Karin Stanley, the non-profit organization’s education and outreach coordinator. “The old farmsteads, the open fields, it’s really what Martha’s Vineyard used to be like. It is peaceful and quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the island.” Once a farm, the history of the 20-acre property can be traced back to 1669, and the arboretum’s offices are built in the renovated homestead which dates to the 1700s. The first seeds of the arboretum were planted by Polly Hill, the organization’s founder, in 1958. Over the years, Hill developed superior plants, and the arboretum took root.

The arboretum’s walking trails are lined with more than 1,600 types of flora and fauna. Guided tours are offered daily in July and August, at 10 a.m., and visitors can explore the property on their own year round. For more information, visit

Nancy White is a freelance writer from Hull.

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