New England
Search by outdoor activity
  Alpine Skiing
  Cross-Country Skiing
  For Families
Search by Destination
  By the Sea
-In & Around Boston Search by duration
  A Few Hours
  Half Day
  Full Day

  Exploring the Boston Harbor Islands
Exploring the Boston Harbor Islands

What to Bring

Folding chair   Binoculars
Hat   Sweatshirt
Sunscreen   Water
Insect repellent   Snacks
Sunglasses   Food


To Boston Long Wharf by car:
From the south, take I-93 to exit 23 (Atlantic Avenue & Northern Avenue)
Follow signs to Atlantic Avenue and the
New England Aquarium
From the north, take I-93 to exit 23 Purchase Street/South Station
Take first left on Congress, then immediate left on to Atlantic Avenue
Follow signs to the New England Aquarium
Parking is not possible at Long Wharf
(passenger drop-off only), and you will
have to park nearby, at Rowes Wharf, The Mariott Hotel, The Garage at Post Office
Square, The Boston Harbor Garage, or
Quincy Market. Traffic can be heavy in the area because of the Big Dig, so arrive early to find a spot without hurrying. Average
parking fee for a day is about $25
(off-street parking is free on Sunday, but
spaces are difficult to find)
By Subway:
Take the Blue Line to the Aquarium Station or the Orange Line to Haymarket
  Good to know in advance
Ferry fees: $10 round-trip per adult, $8 per child age 6-18, $6 per child age 3-5, free for children under 3; inter-island shuttle is free

Ticket center and ferry departure to
George's Island located at Long Wharf, one block from Faneuil Hall, between the Marriott and the New England Aquarium

Water is available only on Georges Island - bring your own to other islands
Ferry can be crowded on summer
afternoons – arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure. The last ferry of the day is
always the most crowded
On-island rangers are equipped with
emergency communications and first aid
To schedule your trip, download the water shuttle
For other ferry information, contact Harbor Express: or 617-222-6999
For information on moorings for private
boats, call 617-223-8666
For more information on the Boston Harbor Islands National Park: or call 617-233-8666
All islands open from 9:00 am to sunset
Restrooms on Georges Island
No dogs allowed on the islands
Carry out your trash

ID Card

Overall rating: Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating
Difficulty: 1/5
  Time from Boston: 15 mins.
  Duration: Full day

$10 per person

  Main activity:


Bring Along Friends?
  E-mail this page to a   friend
Bring Along Friends?
  Have a question about   this destination?
The Boston Harbor Islands are now a National Park area, but a very unique one: 30 islands spread across the Boston harbor, varying in size and shape and rich in history, which make up an unparalleled playground for outdoor enthusiasts. If you like open space, the feeling that the world is far away, and that special feeling of remoteness that is only found in islands, then this is the place to be. When you land on any one of these islands, you will have hard a time remembering that you are only 40 minutes away from the mainland, and close to one of the largest cities in the country. Turn your back on Boston's skyline to the west, and look east: this is the open ocean, with more than 3,000 miles of emptiness.

The Harbor Islands offer numerous opportunities, from swimming and walking to paddling and camping. Here are our suggestions to make the best of your trip and leverage all these opportunities without hassle.

In 2004, four islands can be reached through water ferry and shuttle: George's, Lovell's, Grape and Spectacle. George's Island is the hub for visiting the islands, as well as a worthwhile destination in itself. This is also the only island with a snack bar and water. All the other islands have no support services (except Rangers on duty in season) and no water. Always bring ample water for a full day when you head for the islands.

Because the place is so attractive and can be reached only by boat, our advice is to spend a full day there, though spending only half a day is possible if you stay only on George's island

There are two great options to enjoy the islands depending on your mood (shuttle times indicated for weekends – for weekdays check schedule below):

1. The hassle-free day on George's Island:
Take the 9:15 am or 10:10 am ferry from Boston in the morning – see full schedule below.
After a 40-minute ride, you will spend the day on the island, exploring Fort Warren's ramparts, parade ground and numerous stairs and rooms. This is one of Boston's most attractive destinations for children, who will spend the day running across the fort and pretending they are castaways defending the place against pirates. Views from the fort on the Boston harbor are impressive, and there are many places to set up your barbecue and have lunch, gaze in the distance or play with your friends. Our tip: after disembarking on the island, walk on your right as if you wanted to go around the fort. Follow the trail to walk along the ramparts until you reach the last corner of the ramparts, facing the open ocean. You should be able to find a nice, grassy area on your left, away from the weekend crowd that will mostly stay around the dock area. You can also walk around the island, though some sections will require you to walk on the coastline rocks. Restrooms are available near the visitor center facing the deck.
Come back with the ferry leaving George's at 4:25 pm or 5:00 pm. This is not the last one, but precisely for this reason you will find embarking easier and faster.

2. Spending a day at the beach on Lovell's island
Lovell's has a real sandy beach, supervised by lifeguards in season, and a diverse landscape that includes woods and dunes, the latter not commonly found on other islands. Here, the atmosphere is quiet and serene, as most visitors tend to stay on George's. Several trails will allow you to explore the island
To get there, take the 9:15 am or 10:10 am ferry from Boston to George's island - the ride is about 40 minutes
Disembark at George's and wait for the Lovells water shuttle at 10 am or 10:30 am
Spend the day on Lovells and take the shuttle back to George's at 3:45 pm or 5 pm
You will be on George's in time for the ferry back to Boston at 4:30 pm or 5.45 pm. Avoid waiting on George's to catch the last boat - that one is usually quite crowded

Paddling Biking Mountaineering