Made up of 34 islands and peninsulas, Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park is an urban oasis just minutes from Boston’s city center. Hop aboard a park ferry and discover islands rich with opportunities for outdoor recreation, relaxation, and Boston Harbor Islands camping.
Campground review: Camping at Boston Harbor Islands requires some planning, but you get the benefit of a remote island with minimal company. Unless you book one of the 12 yurts on Peddocks island, the camping is rustic; you’ll need to bring everything, including water. Reservations open 6 months in advance and sites fill quickly, so plan ahead if you’re counting on a particulate day. I only visited the campsites on Peddocks Island, so I can’t speak to the ones on Lovell, Grape, and Bumpkin.
Getting there: Unless you have your own boat(check regulations on the website; you’ll need to anchor offshore overnight), you’ll want to catch a ride on the ferries to the Boston Harbor Islands. Figuring out the schedule is the trickiest part, not least because they don’t make the inter-island ferry schedule as readily accessible. Here’s the scoop:
- Check the ferry schedule. Figure out which departure makes the most sense for you. You may choose to leave from Long Wharf, near the Aquarium T stop on the Blue line, or from Hingham, with overnight parking available. For Bumpkin and Grape Islands, you’ll want to leave from Hingham; Peddocks and Lovells are available from either departure point
- Buy your ticket online in advance. Some town libraries have passes offering 2-for-1 ferry rides, so if you’re a MA resident in the greater Boston area, it’s worth checking that out first. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at an extra$20 for the ferry, but that fee covers your round trip as well as the use of the interisland ferries so you can explore other islands. If you’re traveling as a family, look at the family pack for another discount. You can show the ticket on your phone when you board.
- Pack as lightly as possible and plan to carry or wheel it to your site. If you have a folding wagon, you may appreciate having it to carry items on and off the ferry and to your site on the island. There may or may not be carts available on the island. Peddocks has running water available, but otherwise you’ll need to bring gallon of water/person. If you want to grill, bring your own charcoal; otherwise bring a stove or bring food that doesn’t need to be cooked. You may scavenge wood to build fires below the high tide line only. No alcohol and no pets.
The yurts on Peddocks are great, providing shelter from the elements, bunks with mattresses, electricity, a ceiling fan, table with benches, and a grill. There are 6 yurts up a small hill, with a composting toilet and water from a tap nearby. The 6 tent sites are also in this area. An additional 6 yurt sites are below the hill and in the woods, so it’s a slightly longer walk to the toilet. at the top of another hill there is an open, grassy area, also with a composting toilet, that provides group campsited.
While you’re out on the islands, take time to explore one of the others…look for sea glass on Spectacle Island and climb the hill for a view of the Boston skyline, explore the old forts and visitors centers, earn a Junior Ranger badge from the National Park Service, fly a kite, or go for a swim or kayak. In mid-August we collected handfuls of blackberries as we explored Peddocks.
Ranger Product Review: Banner& Oak Traveler Shirt
As a Ranger with the Dyrt, I sometimes get to test items; in this case I ordered the Banner& Oak Traveler long-sleeve t-shirt in indigo. It’s long sleeved and super soft, but the first time I went to put it on, I realized the Banner& Oak tag along the hemline was sewn through both the front and back, so I couldn’t put t on until I removed the tag. I didn’t have scissors with me, so it was tough to get it off and ultimately I ended up with a hole in both the front and back. I’ve worn this on strolls through the woods when the weather was nice, but cool and on the foggy morning ferry ride to the island. The sleeves are not constricting and when I pushed them up to my elbows, they stayed in place while I hiked. I will say that it is a unisex t-shirt and the sleeves and body of the shirt tend to run long. I like that, but if you're petite, it may be annoying.
This campground has 6 yurts and 6 tent sites. The yurts have bunk beds, a floor lamp, a table inside, a picnic table outside and a grill. Just getting to the island is a fun adventure. The island is beautiful and has an old fort to explore as well as a lot of Rocky shoreline and trails. You can build bon fires and see gorgeous sunsets. During the day you can take small ferries to a variety of other islands to go swimming or explore. This is a great adventure for kids. On peddocks island there is plenty of drinking water available and a ranger station. These sites book quickly, so you should try to book 7 months to the day in advance. That said, you can also look for last minute openings. I been 3 times and always have a great time. This campground is only open during the summer months.
We camped at Lovells Island. Getting to the island was a bit of a hassle. We live in Boston and took all of our gear on the T to the harbor by the aquarium. We then took the ferry (which was in itself lovely and explained much of the harbor on the way) to Georges Island. After that we waited and got on a much smaller island to Lovells. When we got to the island we found that all of the sites had already been taken even though we had booked online months ahead. The ranger showed us two spots that we could camp at but they had no grills. We chose a smaller but more secluded spot. Make sure that you bring enough drinking water and that you are ok with using the composting bathroom or going in the woods. Exploring the island was awesome. We found all kinds of bunkers and a brick house. We ended up making a fire pit on the beach and a flat rock "grill" to make our burgers. Sitting on the beach watching the sun set over Boston was awesome and made everything entirely worth it.
I LOVE MY BOAT RIDE TO AND FROM THE ISLANDS AND MY FAMMILY ENJOYED THAIRE STAY THARE I WOULD RECOMEND IT FOR ALL AGES TO GO YOU WILL HAVE FUN THARE
Took the kids it was beutiful, we took the Ferry out of Hingam, only way to the Islands is by a boat, they offer great amenities, swimming , fishing, great family adventure. I would recommend however if I had the chance I would bring my own boat