Describing Menemsha is difficult. Visiting Menemsha is easy. Describing it and conveying its authenticity, its gentle strength, is almost impossible. I’m not sure if islanders feel the same way about Menemsha as tourists, ‘washashores’, or ‘summer-dinks’, but to all of us who rarely see a working fishing village, Menemsha is a singular experience.
There is more to Menemsha than the fishing village, but its the best place to start. Small town, working fishing villages are by-and-large a thing of the past. That fact hadn’t really occurred to me until it was pointed out. I was wondering why this tiny harbour of weathered shacks and fishing boats had such a profound affect on me. Why this place would cause a friend of mine to refer to it as “restorative” and why I knew she was right. History restores us. There’s something about a place that has ridden out the storm, time and time again, and was still standing unchanged by the outside world. It’s grounding. It slows us down and tells us that it’s okay to breathe.
Having excellent seafood doesn’t hurt either. There’s something to be said for sitting down and eating lobster not twenty feet from where it was hauled out of the ocean. If lobster’s not your thing, there are any number of options for you to choose. I’m a lobster guy, but I’m also particularly fond of the swordfish sandwich at Larsen’s Fish Market. Stanley Larsen’s clam chowder is a beautiful thing too, but for my money it’s the lobster bisque that will really knock your socks off. Grab a whole mess of food with friends and loved ones, bag it up, and head down to the beach. Menemsha seafood suppers eaten on the beach, while watching the sunset…
Menemsha sunsets are famous. It’s actually a thing. Menemsha beach is not hugely populated during the day even though it’s a great beach. That’s a fact that’s good to know if you are looking for a place to chill. Come evening, though, and people start coming in droves. The parking lot begins to fill up. People spread their blankets and open their wine bottles and settle in for the show.
Menemsha holds other secrets too. The Menemsha Hills just happen to be my favourite hiking trails on the island. I’ve hiked them in every season. The lookout point at the hills’ peak is a view like no other. The following trail down to the ocean is a hidden gem.
The Beach Plum Inn has an incomparable view all its own. It, too, is known for being the place to watch the Menemsha sunsets. It’s also known for having one of the best chefs on the entire island. I can personally vouch for the the breakfasts. The zucchini loaf french toast that I had last season was out of this world.
I don’t know if this little note has tempted you to visit or return to Menemsha, but I know that I haven’t captured its softness. I have left out all of the reference to the breezes and the sunshine, the soothing fogs. It’s like trying to grab fish in a pond. I can see it. It’s there in my head, but just when I think I’ve found the right words, they swim away.