Carpe Aestatem! Seize the Summer!

girl swimming

July offers an abundance of activity. There’s the call of the sea and beach, festivals and fairs, performances and parades, shopping and boating, and of course there’s got to be some time squeezed in there for just sitting back and relaxing over a glass of lemonade. Here are some events and activities you won’t want to miss.

1. Get your snorkel on. The Vineyard’s beachscape is iconic, from the stretches of sand to the vistas full of sailboats. We pay less attention to what’s under the surface (unless you’ve just seen Jaws), but Vineyard waters can make for some fun snorkeling, especially on days with little wind or in sheltered areas where the surface stays smooth. Grab a mask, snorkel, and fins and look for a spot near rocks or a shelf, where fish are more likely to congregate. Some good spots to try are the jetties along State Beach, Lake Tashmoo by the outlet to Vineyard Sound, and Lambert’s Cove. Find a little serenity swimming with the fishes in watery silence.

2. One rocking night. Popular indie rock band Grouplove headlines the Stars and Stripes Festival, a night of live music benefiting the YMCA, at Flatbread in Edgartown on July 7. The lineup includes a mix of up-and-coming bands whose sounds range from pop to electronic to alternative, assembled for the event as a donation from Neon Gold Records of New York City, a company whose founders met as kids summering on the Vineyard. Advance tickets ($30, or $35 at door) are recommended and are available online at Info: The twenty-one-plus evening begins with a performance from Island youth musicians involved in the YMCA Teen Center, and the party takes off from there.

The Comedy of Errors
Last year’s The Comedy of Errors, alfresco.

3. Twice the Shakespeare. Intrigue, disguise, mistaken identity, and star-crossed love enliven the sylvan stage at the Tisbury Amphitheatre as the Vineyard Playhouse presents Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet (with an all-female cast). In the past the Playhouse has presented a single Shakespearean production at the amphitheater each summer, but with its main stage under construction, it’s upping the ante this year. The two shows will be performed in repertory, with each playing two nights a week during the five-week run July 18 to August 18, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 5 p.m.; rain dates are Sundays. Tickets (cash or check only) are sold at the door and are $15 ($10 for children under eighteen). Info: Come early to get a good seat and feel free to bring lawn chairs and picnic fixings – bug spray isn’t a bad idea either.

4. Treasuring yard sales. Yardsailing – a.k.a. navigating from yard sale to yard sale perusing tossed-away treasures – could be considered a Vineyard sport. Tack and jibe across the Island to hit the full lineup of sales every Saturday and Sunday, or set a direct course to the sales whose classified ads appeal to you. Whatever your tactic, there are plenty of garage and estate sales (where the contents of an entire house are sold, often by a third party) to visit in the summer season. Look for them in newspaper classifieds or follow the signs posted around the Island. Some scheduled sales are a must, such as the West Tisbury Congregational Church’s Attic Sale on July 14, and book sales by the Oak Bluffs Library (July 19 to 21) and the West Tisbury Library (end of July). Some tips from the pros: Get there at the beginning for the good stuff (but no one likes an early bird), go at the end for the bargains (prices usually drop as the day goes on), map out your route in advance to make a logical progression, and bon voyage!

Kris Smith and Kim Parker at Sengekontacket Pond
Kris Smith and Kim Parker embark from the Sengekontacket boat launch at Felix Neck. (Courtesy Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary)

5. A nature quest via kayak. Forever finding ways to get Vineyarders and visitors outdoors, Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary is offering a Kayak Quest from its Sengekontacket Pond boat launch. A quest book full of rhyming clues sends you on a self-guided paddle around the pond, into salt marshes, and close to bird colonies to learn about the history and nature of the pond. Double and single kayaks are available and can be signed out for two and a half hours Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., through the end of September. The cost is $42 per boat ($32 for Mass Audubon members), and reservations are recommended; children must be at least eleven. Info: Participants can follow as many or as few of the clues as they like, and scheduled guided tours are offered as well.