How to Visit Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket on the Cheap

Posted By Trav

Marthas Vineyard for cheap

Nantucket.  Martha’s Vineyard.

The names conjure up images of grandeur.

These are the playgrounds of multi-millionaires.  Of billionaires.  Of US Presidents.  And of me.

So how did someone like me escape to these two exclusive enclaves, one of the most elite and richest areas of the United States, this summer?

On a budget, of course!

The most expensive part of going on vacation is finding accommodations (you aren’t still paying for airfare, right?), and going to the Vineyard or Nantucket is no exception.

In fact, it’s magnified.

Getting a small hotel room on either of the islands will easily set you back a minimum of $200 per night, and if you are looking for something nicer or bigger, be prepared to open up that checkbook.

Houses can run $10,000 a week and no one blinks an eye.

But there’s a secret weapon for the budget traveler wishing to visit these two places:


Each island has just one hostel, and both are operated by Hostelling International, one of the world’s largest accommodation providers.

HI-Martha’s Vineyard

525 Edgartown-West Tisbury Rd.  Vineyard Haven MA 02568

Open from mid-May to mid-October

Prices:  Dorms starting at $35


  • Cheapest price to stay in Martha’s Vineyard…by far!
  • Free pancake breakfast
  • Friendly staff
  • Huge, well stocked kitchen
  • Quiet location


  • No wifi in rooms
  • Only bunk beds in private rooms
  • Communal bathrooms

The first thing I noticed about Martha’s Vineyard after arriving on the ferry was just how big it was.

In my mind, I envisioned a quaint little island where everything was jam-packed on to a few tiny streets.


The hostel is located in West Tisbury, about a 45 minute bus ride from the ferry port, which can be seen as either a blessing (if you want to get away from the gobs of other tourists) or a curse (it takes some planning and time to get around).

The MV hostel was the first purposefully built hostel in the United States, a really cool distinction, and it felt like a summer camp.

Martha's Vineyard- First Hostel

This may have had to do with the fact that a group of Girl Scouts was also staying there at the same time!

While it was certainly rustic, the place was kept impeccably clean.  The kitchen was absolutely massive, and provided plenty of room for groups of people to be cooking at the same time.

There was also a free pancake breakfast provided each morning.  Filling up on this is another budget traveler favorite, as restaurants on MV, as I’m sure you can imagine, are way overpriced.

We had a private room, which had bunk beds instead of one larger bed, and it didn’t have its own bathroom.

The females had two bathrooms, one on each floor, while the men had just one, on the second floor.

The main common lounge was also gigantic, with plenty of books to read, games to play, and couches to lounge on.  The internet didn’t work in the rooms, which lead to many people hanging out in the lounge together.

The staff was incredibly helpful and friendly, and one of the best perks of staying at the hostel was that the bike rental company will deliver bikes to the hostel for you.

This saves you having to take a trip in to Oaks Bluff or Edgartown to pick up and drop off the bikes.

While the quietness and remoteness of the hostel’s location first threw us for a loop, we quickly learned to embrace it.

The bus came once an hour in each direction, which was convenient enough, and it also dropped you and picked you up right outside the hostel.

Also, the town of West Tisbury was only a 15 minute walk away, and is an absolute must when staying at the hostel.

While Oaks Bluff and Edgartown may be the “happening spots” on the island, visiting West Tisbury is like stepping back in to time.

West Tisbury

One general store, one restaurant, one fruit stand, and one heck of a cute town!


31 Western Avenue, Nantucket, MA 02554

Open from mid-May to mid-September

Prices:  Dorms starting at $35


  • Cheapest price to stay in Nantucket…by far
  • Located ON THE BEACH
  • Awesome architecture and building
  • Free beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas
  • Free breakfast
  • Great staff


  • No wifi in rooms
  • Only dorm rooms, separated by gender
  • Communal bathrooms

After two days on Martha’s Vineyard, we were happy to head to Nantucket to compare the two.

Nantucket, being much smaller than MV, was much more what we expected when we first came on the trip.

The fact that the HI-Nantucket hostel is one of the coolest I’ve ever stayed in certainly helps!

So what makes the HI-Nantucket hostel so great?

Where do I start…?

The location is literally RIGHT ON THE BEACH.  In fact, the hostel has it’s own walkway directly to the beach.

Nantucket Beach

And the beach, even in the middle of July, was a far cry from the crowded beaches of New Jersey that I’m accustomed to.

We had the beach almost entirely to ourselves, with only a handful of people populating the beach further down, closer to the food stand.

In addition to the location, the building itself is the old Nantucket lifesaving station and chockful of character.

They have done a fabulous job maintaining the quirks of an old building while outfitting it with modern amenities, such as a large kitchen with refrigerators and freezers to store your food.

Like the MV Hostel, the Nantucket Hostel also provided a free breakfast each morning, with a large dining room to seat all the guests.  This lead to plenty of interaction and recommendations between travelers.

One of the coolest perks of the Nantucket hostel was that they also provided free beach towels, beach chairs, and beach umbrellas.


With the exception of one private room, everyone else is split up in to gender specific dorms of 25 beds each.

While it was a little strange to be split up from Heather for the night, the beds themselves were comfortable, and the dorms and bathrooms were clean.

The manager of the HI-Nantucket Hostel has 20+ years running and operating hostels, and it shows with all the small touches around the hostel that make it a joy to stay at.

Discounts on bike rentals, plenty of recommendations on great places to eat, and free beach equipment were just the icing on the cake.

Did I mention…it’s located right on the beach?

And that it costs $35 per night?

Can’t beat that!

Final Word(s)

If you want to travel to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket (or both!) and aren’t blessed with a trust fund, these two hostels are the way to go!

Both are unique and interesting in their own right, and at the price of $35 per night, you’ll be saving yourself enough money to actually go buy a meal while you’re there!

If you do want to book them, make sure to do it well in advance, as they fill up very quickly (duh, they are only $35/night)!

Also, don’t forget that they are only open seasonally, from mid-May to mid-September for Nantucket and mid-October for Martha’s Vineyard.

Many thanks to Hostelling International, who provided accommodation throughout our stay.  All views expressed are my own honest opinion and do not reflect the views of Hostelling International.

(lead photo courtesy of moserati2008)







  1. I love Martha’s Vineyard! And I definitely had no idea that there was a hostel on the island!

    1. Trav says:

      @Food Wine and Miles- Yep, and it’s BY FAR the cheapest option. Where are some of your favorite MV hotspots?

  2. Those of us from Massachusetts do not called Martha’s Vineyard MV – we don’t even abbreviate it that way. It is called “The Vineyard”, plain and simple. Otherwise, great post about the hostels on the islands.

    1. Trav says:

      @airlandandsea- You learn something new everyday! Thanks for the heads up from a local.

  3. mike says:

    Really starting to lose me here. Communal (sp?) bathrooms / separated from wife overnite. Not gonna happen. Keep me tuned to your site…and this isn’t the way to do it. Been a follower for a while…and thanks for doing all you do !

    1. Trav says:

      @mike- I understand that not everyone wants to travel this way, just throwing the option out there. I appreciate you following the site and glad you like most of the stuff posted here. In the future, feel free to disregard a post like this that might not be of use to you, but do let me know if there is something you’d like me to touch on!

  4. Chris says:

    “In the future, feel free to disregard a post like this” LMAO!!! Passive aggressiveness at its finest. What an ass

    1. Christiana says:

      Why an ass?! Took the time to share experience for those who ARE interested.

    2. Hell, I’m about to stealth camp the vineyard because fuck spending that much on a hotel.

  5. Nancy says:

    Thanks for the great post. I never would have thought that there were hostels on The Vineyard. Our little family is always looking for ways to visit as many places and have as many experiences as possible without breaking the bank.

    1. Trav says:

      @Nancy- I HIGHLY recommend them. They are SUPER CHEAP compared to anywhere else on the Vineyard and Nantucket, and have some pretty cool character. Especially the one in Nantucket!

  6. Thanks for the share. There are also tons of great Martha’s Vineyard Rentals available in the off season that aren’t to expensive. Times like November and December are the best if you are looking for a great deal.

    1. Trav says:

      @joanniejprice- What’s it like on the islands at that time? I’d assume blustery but also pretty neat because of the lack of tourists?

  7. Wendy says:

    Nantucket has private rooms. Also, the rates are now about $45 per night.

    1. Trav says:

      @Wendy – They have private rooms now? Wow, that’s awesome, good to hear. Love that place, but when I went it was only dorms. Much nicer with a few private rooms. Time to head back!

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