Island hopping just off the coast of Boston

Filed in Things To Do by on July 3, 2009 1 Comment

If a trip to the tropics is only likely to happen in your very vivid imagination this summer, it doesn’t mean you have to put your island hopping hopes on hold. Head over to Long Wharf in Boston for a seven mile trip out to begin hopping about on Boston Harbor Islands.


Their advertising slogan is “Minutes Away. Worlds Apart.” And while the harbor islands may not have the buzz or amenities about them as Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket Island do, for day tripping, they are just the thing. And, there’s much less traffic getting to them too.

Depart from Long Wharf in Boston by Christopher Columbus Park, the most popular of the ferry excursions offers multiple trips daily to George’s Island and Spectacle Island, open 9am to sunset daily. Purchase tickets online or at the ferry kiosk.

On George’s Island, enjoy a guided tour of Fort Warren, take a hike along the water, or enjoy a family picnic on the grounds. If you neglect to bring your own snacks, a snack vendor is available on the island. On a sweltering hot summer day, the breeze off the water can provide some much needed relief.

If the breeze isn’t enough and you need to take a dive into the water, opt for Spectacle Island with lifeguard manned waters. For land bound adventures, hike 5 miles of trails to the peak of the island for spectacular views of the Boston skyline.


For a true hopping experience opt for the multi-island excursion which includes stops at four more rustic island environments at Grape, Bumpkin, Peddocks, and Lovells Islands.

If the New England charm of lighthouses float your boat, try Boston Light Climbing Tour for tours of local lighthouses, including a trek to the top to see the sights from above. Boats depart from the Moakley Courthouse Dock, Fan Pier, South Boston Seaport District. Tickets run from $40 – $48 for the harbor tour and lighthouse excursions.

Take an island based kayak excursion tour to skirt the coasts and shorelines of these beautiful isles. Led by experienced park rangers and meant to be a low impact tour, rather than a rigorous work out. All kayaking tours depart from Grape Island, and run 45 minutes or 2 hours.

With camping on an upswing as vacation budgets shrink, the islands offer the sense of remote camping, all within sight of the Boston skyline. Permits are required for camping and are available at or by calling 877-422-6762. Check the do’s and do not’s before you go as some usual campfire favorites like your trusty family dog or a couple of beers are not allowed at island campsites.


Upcoming events

July 8thParade of the Tall Ships with ferrys running to Spectacle island only for viewing of the stunning arrival of the Tall Ships to Boston Harbor.

July 17thFree Ferry Day featuring extended hours. Make your reservations now.

Summer Thursdays – Enjoy a New England Clam Bake for $70 (or $75 with beer or wine)  from 630- 9 on Spectacle Island every Thursday throughout the summer, provided by Summer Shack and special ferry service by Boston’s Best Cruises.

Summer Sundays – Enjoy free concerts featuring dixie, swing and jazz music on Sundays throughout the summer.

Additional Departure Options If you’re looking to avoid a trek into the city, opt for excursions leaving from South Boston at EDIC Pier ; Quincy at Fore River Shipyard ; Hingham at Hingham Shipyard and Hull at Pemberton Point .


Julie Salickram is a contributing writer/blogger for Follow her at

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  1. DimiAbsobia says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article, keep up making such interesting articles!

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