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Cape Cod & The Islands

Wasque

Chappaquiddick Island

200 acres

On the southeastern corner of Martha’s Vineyard, storms and sea-level rise reshape the coastline here on a daily basis.

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Plan Your Visit
  • Overview
  • Ideas for Your Visit
  • Admission & Hours
  • Directions
  • Facilities
  • Property Map
  • Regulations & Advisories

Overview

Wasque (“way-skwee”) is a land of shifting sands and changing ecology, where sea level rise, ever-fiercer storms, and strong long-shore currents demonstrate their impacts all along the coastline.

For generations, visitors and residents alike have fond memories of sweeping white sand beaches and boardwalks. Today, Wasque is in transition, undergoing what many Native Vineyarders remember from long ago. Shifting sandbars, strong long-shore currents, and the rapidly moving Breach will likely erode great portions of the swimming beach. Its dry, acidic, sandy soil nurtures an oak and pine forest, sandplain grasslands, and heathlands. Windy conditions, grazing, and fires have kept forests from taking hold here. It’s a place in a constant state of flux, where no two visits are ever quite the same.

Ideas for Your Visit

Explore a habitat of rare sand barrens along half a mile of trails. Bring binoculars to zoom in on sandpipers, piping plovers, terns, and other shorebirds at the surf line. Glimpse monarch butterflies as they feed on the flowers of the Northern Blazing Star before migrating south.

Nature watchers can sit back and observe many bird species, including sandpipers, piping plovers, terns and other shorebirds at the surf line, and ospreys hovering over the water’s surface, preparing to dive onto a fish. Poucha Pond contains marshes that offer habitat for great blue herons, egrets, migrating shorebirds, and ducks.

Children can look for monarch butterflies as they feed on the flowers of the Northern Blazing Star before migrating south, while parents and caregivers scan for less dramatic appearing butterflies and moths such as mourning cloaks, sulphurs, and red admirals, which appear annually. And like the herons and egrets that congregate here to fish, saltwater anglers find Wasque a fine destination for striped bass and bluefish.

Admission & Hours

Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend:
Trustees Members: Free
Nonmembers: $5
Children (15 & under): Free
Parking: $5

Directions

Wasque Road, Chappaquiddick Island
Martha’s Vineyard, MA 02539
Telephone: 508.627.3599
Email: capepoge@thetrustees.org

Get directions from Google Maps.

From Edgartown–Chappaquiddick ferry, take Chappaquiddick Rd. 2.5 mi. At sharp right curve in road, bear right onto School Rd. and follow for 0.8 mi. At second sharp curve in road, bear left onto Wasque Rd. (turns into a dirt road) and follow for 1.2 mi. to entrance and parking (90 cars) at end.

Facilities

Public restrooms. Picnic tables. Bike rack. Limited handicapped-accessible transportation.

Property Map

Please download a property map before heading out.

Regulations & Advisories

Advisories
Due to strong and changing currents, swimming at Wasque can be hazardous. Use caution at all times and if in doubt, don’t go in the water!

The sand cliffs at Wasque can be particularly dangerous. Don’t go near the edge of the cliffs as they tend to be undercut and you may be standing on nothing more than a thin layer of ground — stay at least 10 feet from the edge of all of Wasque’s cliffs.

At low tide, you may be tempted to venture around the base of these extensive cliffs, but falling trees and other hazards can block your escape route when the tide comes in.

Avoid swimming in areas where seals are present. The growing population of seals on the sand islands off of Wasque’s shores may attract feeding sharks.

Use common sense – be safe, be wary, and respect the power and beauty of nature from a safe distance!

Regulations

  • Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Bikes are permitted on trails only – not on the beach.
  • There is no longer oversand vehicle access to Wasque via The Trustees’ Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge due to severe beach erosion at Wasque Point.
  • The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Please read our video and photo policy.
Before Setting Out
More to Explore

Advance Passes

Advance passes are required for Wasque.
Passes
Upcoming Events

History

Native Americans camped at Wasque (from “wannasque,” an Algonquin word meaning “the ending”) during the warmer months of the year. Settlement by colonists from Europe did not arrive on this part of Chappaquiddick until at least 1750. Land speculation in the late 19th century resulted in several large, upscale development proposals that never came to be.

One proposal, dubbed “Chappaquiddick-by-the-Sea,” included 750, quarter-acre plots laid out in a grid system and set along imagined streets and broad avenues with parks and clubhouses and docking facilities for yachts. In the end, only a handful of homes were built in the area before the reservation was established.

The Trustees purchased this property in 1967.

The View From Here
See What People Say

What a beautiful sight to see. From the unusual leaveless trees to the undulating dunes and natural soft sand coast, it is a paradise in New England.

Nicholaus L., Tripadvisor

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