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The 7 Boston Harbor Islands accessible by ferry, explained

Ideal for camping, hiking, picnicking, and more, these spits just miles from the Boston area are open to the public during the warmer months

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.


Thompson Island

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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.

Spectacle Island

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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.

Lovells Island

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.

Georges Island

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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.

Peddocks Island

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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).

Grape Island

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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.

Bumpkin Island

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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.