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  Paddling Around Thomson Island
Paddling Around Thomson Island

What to Bring

PFD   Hat
Water   Snacks
First aid kit   Whistle
Sunscreen   Sunglasses
Watch   Flashlight
Paddle shoes or
old sneakers
  Plastic bag for
Waterproof pouch or plastic bag for cellphone   Extra dry clothes and shoes to leave in the car


To Nickerson Beach:
From Boston, take Route 93 south.
Take exit 12 for Neponset/Quincy/3A south.
Stay on the right lane and bear right under the highway to drive on the bridge.
On the bridge, stay on the left two lanes
and follow signs for Squantum.
Turn left at the third light (gas station)
Continue straight on Dorchester Street and follow the waterfront.
At sign for Nickerson Beach on the left,
park your car on Dorchester Street or on
perpendicular Shoreham Street.
To rent your kayak from Charles River Canoe and Kayak (2401 Commonwealth Avenue, Newton MA 02466):
From Boston, take I-95/route 128
Take exit 24 and follow sign for route 30
east on right at end of ramp.
This is the first building on the left.
  Good to know in advance

Charles River Canoe & Kayak in Newton
rents safe and easy-to-use sit-on-top
kayaks: $72 per kayak per day with PFD
and gear to strap kayaks on your roof. They do not have many of them, so call in
advance to reserve for off-site rental at
(617) 965-5110. Open daily April 1 -
October 31: weekdays 10 am - sunset,
weekends & holidays 9 am - sunset. See
directions above.

No restrooms on Nickerson Beach or on the island.

Kayaking is a dangerous sport. Always
check the weather before going out
paddling, and allow ample time before
sunset to come back.
Remember that paddling against the wind is strenuous – plan your trip accordingly.
Get instruction first if you have never
Respect the Outward Bound property –
leave no trace if you stop on one of the
island beaches.

ID Card

Overall rating: Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating
Difficulty: 3/5
  Time from Boston: 30 minutes
  Duration: A few hours

$65 for kayak rental

  Main activity:


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Thomson is one of the islands making up the Boston Harbor Islands National Park. Closer to shore than its better-known siblings grouped around George's Island, and without regular ferry service, Thomson receives little attention and is therefore a great place for some quiet kayaking.

The island is a great destination for a half-day of kayak exploration, far from the masses that invade the other islands in spring and summer. Another advantage is its proximity to Boston: you may be in the water less than 30 minutes after leaving home. The area is well suited to beginners, with relatively protected water and only moderate chop at the northern tip of the island. Thomson has also an interesting feature: at very low tide, a sandbar connects it to the mainland, which may have you carry your kayak over a few yards to complete your tou.

The island has several beaches where you can stop for a rest, particularly on the northwest side. Some other areas are too rocky for a safe landing, especially on the north side. Going ashore and staying on the beach is not a problem, but the island is the property of Outward Bound and visitors should refrain from visiting inland.

Depending on your speed and how long you want to spend ashore, the tour may take 3 hours or more.

Directions are straightforward:
From Nickerson Beach, paddle around the small rocky tower and turn right to head north-northeast towards Thomson Island. The sandbar connecting the island to Squantum is directly on your right.
Follow the coastline around the island; on your way back, depending on the tide, you may float over the sandbar, or carry your boat for about 20 yards; between tides, a narrow passage close to the mainland will allow you to paddle through.
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