Some 34 islands and peninsulas comprise Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park, but only a handful of the islands are readily accessible to the paying public via ferry. Here they are.
The 170-acre spit 4 miles from Boston was once a trade school and a farm for orphans, and today it hosts Thompson Island Outward Bound, a nonprofit offering programs in leadership, environmental education, and youth empowerment. Public ferry service is available only on the weekends during the spring and summer.
A beach with lifeguards is a feature of this 114-acre island, which is 4 miles from Boston. It also has solid views of Boston Harbor from its hiking trails. Spectacle functions today as a public park.
Fun fact: Lovells Island was a candidate in the late 19th century to host the Statue of Liberty. Today, the 61-acre isle 7.2 miles from Boston and 5.2 miles from Hingham is a public park with perks—namely it includes the foundations of the one-time Fort Standish.
The 53-acre island 7 miles from Boston and 4.6 miles from Hingham features Fort Warren, which went up in the mid-19th century to defend Boston just in case—and to train soldiers during the Civil War—and which now serves as a backdrop for picnickers and hikers.
Numerous structures remain from Fort Andrews, which went up on this 210-acre island in the early 20th century. Peddocks, which is 7.8 miles from Boston and 3.3 miles from Hingham, is best-known for camping and hiking (it has multiple campsites).
Full of wild berries for the local wildlife, this 101-acre island 10 miles from Boston and 1.1 miles from Hingham never hosted a fortification. So it’s especially bucolic, and well-known for its bird-watching potential (those berries again) and hiking.
This 62-acre isle is said to be a relatively easy kayak trip from Hingham or Hull (the former is but 2.2 miles away, and it’s even closer to the latter). It once hosted a children’s hospital, but is now best-known for its camping and hiking. Bumpkin is 10.2 miles from Boston.