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Gay Head

Gay Head, or "Aquinnah," as it is called by the native Wampanoag tribe, was tagged "The Land Under the Hill," in 1602 by the infamous explorer, Bartholemew Gosnold. Gay Head is at the westernmost end of the Island, and is attached merely by a southern barrier bar. This tiny independent town is the home of the clay Gay Head Cliffs which are a visual record of the earth's evolution over millions of years - The most dramatic land formation on Martha's Vineyard.

Time has taken its toll, and there is now natural erosion occurring in the cliffs. Exploitive practices, like clay excavation, have been ruled illegal, in the effort to preserve these great monuments.

Perched in the midst of the cliffs is the Gay Head Lighthouse, at slightly less than three hundred feet above sea level, a favorite sunset connoisseur vantage point. As you climb Lighthouse Road, following the narrow pitch and swerve of the natural geography, air and color seem lighter. The land is rugged, and covered with thick scrub bushes and hardy plants.

Gay Head has a few inns, as well as a necklace of shops and a restaurant, called The Aquinnah, all owned by the Wampanoag Tribe, located at the very top of Gay Head, near the Lighthouse. The Wampanoags were recognized as a tribe in 1987.

Year-round population: 201
Summer population:1688 Size: 4 square miles