Explore the Islands of Boston

Beaches & Islands

Boston Harbour Islands National Recreational Area

The charming blue Boston harbour is filled with although small but magnificent islands filled with a wide range of natural vegetation and revolutionary history. Some of the islands in Boston are perfect for a weekend getaway while the others prove to be dangerous and inhabitants. These islands are a representation of the natural beauty, scenic views and contrasting life in the city of Boston.

Here is the list of 16 Explore the Islands of Boston

1. Calf Island

Calf Island

The 18-acre large calf island in Boston is filled with a detailed amount of history back in 1875. The island was home to smaller fishermen who fished for lobsters and later hosted illegal boxing matches. The island does not have a hotel or any place to reside but is home to a large range of vegetation that grows on the fertile thin layer of Calf island soil.

Location: 9 miles from Boston
Accessible: By private boat
Also known as Apthorpes island
Vegetation: groves of wild cherries, clumps of sumac.

2. Gallops Island

Gallops Island

Gallops island is one of Boston’s only islands that was used during both the world wars. The island served as a place for schools for bakers and chefs as well as had a school for radio technicians during the first world war. The rocky island beach offers a scenic view of the clear blue ocean. Gallops currently houses a medium size inn and a restaurant.

Location: 6 miles from Wharf Harbour.
Accessible: Currently closed due to asbestos.
Also Known as: Gallups island
Vegetation: sumac, poplar, poison ivy, and bayberry.
Flora: lilacs, mock-orange, snowberry, and forsythia.

3. Great Brewster Island

Great Brewster Island

Boston's largest island of 68 acres the Great Brewster island has a beautiful view of the Masachussetes bay as well as the four lighthouses present in the harbour. The large island has a trail that visitors can take a peaceful walk on. The trail covers a salt marsh, gull breeding grounds and nurseries, the remains of a military bunker and observation post, and the stone wall foundations of summer cottages.

Location: 8.8 miles from Boston
Accessible: Private boat
Vegetation: Apple trees, pear trees, sumac, beach roses, grasses, Phragmites.
Recreational activities: Hiking and bird watching.
Open Hours: 9am-Sunset

4. Green Island

Green Island

The Green Island in Boston also known as the North Brewster island is a small island of hardly 17.5 acres of land. The island is rocky and is home to several birds like the herring gulls, black-backed gulls, cormorants, barn swallows, red-winged blackbirds during their nesting season. The island is more common among fishermen due to the increasing number of striped bass fish.

Location: 9.5 miles
Accessibility: Private boat with perfect navigation skills.
Also known as North Brewster island

5. Little Brewster Island

Little Brewster Island

Like the name suggests the LIttle Brewster island has a total size of 7 acres of land. The island housed the famous Boston Light which was one of Boston’s most famous lighthouses. The island was used to send signals to navigators during the storms. The island is now an active U.S coast guard navigational aid. Since the island is a coast guard facility entry on the island is prohibited although cruise tours around the island are operational.

Location: 9.3 miles from Boston.
Accessibility: two-hour Boston Harbor Lighthouse Cruise
Recreational activities: 2 Hour narrated cruise.
Fee: Free

6. Little Calf Island

Little Calf Island

The little calf island is a small and otherwise uninhabited as well as barren island on the Boston Harbour. The island is not a very explored island and has no signs of any vegetation or human life. The island is more of a home to seagulls during their nesting time.

Location: 9.2 miles from Boston.
Accessibility: By private boat 9 not recommended during nesting season)

7. Long Island

Long Island

The 225.5 acres long Long Island is regarded as a historic place and hence adds to the great value of the history of the country. Long island was once used by colonial tenant farmers and then by the native Americans as a defensive location, which is why the island has several ancient structures. Although the park has several social service facilities it is closed due to the hazards of the ageing structures.

Location: 7.3 miles from Boston
Accessibility: 2-hour cruise ( Tour included)

8. Lovells Island

Lovells Island

The Lovells island is a spacious 62-acre island located in the midst of the majestic Atlantic Ocean. The island has a great history with respect to all native Americans. The island is also home to a wide range of flora and fauna. The camp is ideal for a weekend getaway from the hustle of the city. The rocky Lovells island had also been suggested as a location for the Statue of Liberty because of its beauty and scenic views of the sunset from the Atlantic and the skyline of the city.

Location: 7.2 miles from Boston.
Accessibility: Ferry
Vegetation: bayberry, beach plum, raspberry, Virginia rose and salt spray rose.
Recreational activities: Camping, swimming, hiking, tide pooling and birdwatching

9. Middle Brewster Island

Middle Brewster Island

The middle Brewster island is a 9-acre island located on the outer part of the Boston Harbour. The Island is surrounded by sharp cliffs and steep rocks. The island is home to almost no vegetation. The only life seen there is the seagulls during their nesting time.

Location: 9 miles from Boston.
Accessibility: Private boat ( not recommended during nesting season).

10. Nixes Mate

Nixes Mate

The Nixes island is one of the smaller islands on Boston's harbour that gets covered and uncovered by the rising tides of the Atlantic. The island has a prominent black and white structure of white wood shaped in a pyramid placed on granite. The structure is a day beacon which acts like aid to navigation for the sailors and also acts as a warning sign for the hazards of the ocean.

Location: 5 miles by the Boston Harbour
Accessibility: Not accessible

11. Outer Brewster Island

Outer Brewster Island

Just like its neighbours the Outer Brewster Island also gets its name from William Brewster, the first preacher of the Plymouth community. The island has an extremely rocky shoreline which restricts humans from using it. Outer Brewster was originally used as a granite quarry and is now used by birds during nesting. Currently, the land does have walking trails for people to discover the flora and fauna of the 20-acre island.

Location: 10 miles from Boston.
Accessibility: Private Boat ( not recommended during nesting)
Also known as Outward Island

12. Rainsford Island

Rainsford Island

The 21 acres of land of the Rainsford island was productively used for farming and grazing by the native Americans. The land was later used to build a quarantine hospital, veterans hospital and a boys reform school. The tiny but magnificent island has a rocky and sandy shoreline with underdeveloped trails for the visitors to look at the beautiful sunset and mystical ocean.

Accessible: Private boat.
Also known as: Hospital island, Pest House island and Quarantine island.

13. Shag Rocks

Shag Rocks

The Shag Rocks are a group of 8 ancient rocks that are located in the centre of all the Brewster islands. The rocks have been the reason for several shipwrecks in the ocean, which is why the Boston Light on the Brewster is kept as a warning sign for sailors.

Location: 10 miles from Boston
Accessibility: Impractical access.

14. Spectacle Island

Spectacle Island

The 105-acre spectacular island is known for its breathtaking view of the city from the islands highest point known as ‘Spectacle point.’ The abundant activities on this island make it one the most used as well as enjoyable parks on the Boston harbour. The park offers lifeguarded beach swimming and walking trails around the land. Its several amenities and activities also gather people to the island for a perfect weekend of a summer day.

Location: 4 Miles from Boston
Accessibility: Ferry service
Open Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Vegetation: deciduous and conifer trees, and meadow grasses.
Recreational activities: Swimming, Hiking, Kite-flying, picnicking, walking and many more.

15. The Graves Boston Harbour

The Graves Boston Harbour

The Grave is the outermost region of the Boston Harbour and is currently the tallest lighthouse among the three in the Boston Harbor. The lighthouse is currently active and acts as a navigational guide to the coast guard. Visitors are currently restricted from visiting the grave. Although a two-hour narrative tour is held for the visitors to know more about the Graves.

Location: 11 miles from Boston
Accessibility: Not accessible.

16. Thompson Island

Thompson Island

One of Boston's most accessible and ecologically diverse islands, Thompson Island is 170 acres of land has multiple purposes and is home to a variety of vegetation and life. Several weddings, gatherings and parties have taken place on this island. It also has several programs for students ages 12-17 years. The Thompson island is only open on Saturdays, Sundays and summer holidays to the general public.

Location: 1 mile from Boston
Accessibility: Ferry
Vegetation: hardwood tree stands, remnant pear and apple orchards, ornamental trees and shrubs, open meadows, manicured lawns, including a soccer field.
Activities: Picnicking, hiking, tide pooling and birdwatching

Here is our collection of the Islands of Boston, we hope you like it. Do let us know what you think in the comments below.

This post was published by Priyal Jhaveri

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