The Chappaquiddick Chronicles #6: Norton Point Beach

This week, I’m in Chappaquiddick for my family reunion (read the full saga on 7/26), so every day I’ll be writing about a Vineyard place I love.


I’m afraid to write about Norton Point Beach – you just know with all your bragging, somebody is going to want to check it out, and then you’ll run into them on the beach that you’ve previously had all to yourself. So why open your big trap?  With that in mind, I’m telling you about Norton Point Beach with the explicit understanding that this is just between us — and you will never share this information with another soul.

Norton Point Beach is a 2.5 mile long strip of sand and dunes that used to connect Martha’s Vineyard and Chappaquiddick. It is the embrace of arms that contains Katama Bay and we look out on that remote, beautiful beach every day from our house.

The distant view of Norton Point Beach from our house.

We can canoe across the bay or walk the long way around the shore to Norton Point Beach, but once we reach our magical destination, we’ll spend hours searching for starfish, shells and marine treasure along its remote shores…and rarely run into anyone not sharing our DNA. People with big SUVs, low tires, and a pricey permit used to be able to make the trip on the sand from Martha’s Vineyard to Chappy via Norton Point…but no more.

Into the breach, dear friends…

In 2007, a major ocean storm caused a breach in the barrier beach. So now there’s a gap in Norton Point and nobody can drive overland to get to Chappy – you have to take the ferry, no matter how big and badass your SUV is. But we can still canoe, kayak, and sail across to wander the beach in complete solitude (except for 30+ other noisy Londergans) where we’ll spend hours trying to tell the difference between the immature and mature sandpipers and looking for the elusive, endangered piping plovers.

A flock of Londergan Bird-watchers.

Norton Point Beach is our point of reference and our lodestar – and for some reason it feels like it belongs entirely to us.

Norton Point Beach is part of The Trustees of Reservations, the great Massachusetts land trust that protects it, monitors it, and keeps it safe for generations to come. And provides that same immeasurably important service for more than 100 other Massachusetts treasures as well. (For my full song of praise on the Trustees, see my post on 7/26.)

My $100 today goes to the Trustees for making Norton Point Beach a place we can always come back to, knowing the only changes we find there will have been caused by nature and the waves. And I only feel safe telling you this because we’re leaving tomorrow (boo hoo).

Shells from Norton Point Beach

To join me in donating to the Trustees of Reservations, click here. To become a Member, click here.