Boston’s Harbor Islands: Not the Vineyard But Worth a Visit

Little Brewster Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands.
Little Brewster Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands.

While you’ve probably heard of the immensely popular Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket islands in Massachusetts, there are some other wonderful Eastern Mass island getaways that are sure to provide you with that same beautiful and relaxing journey off the mainland.

The Boston Harbor Islands are reachable by an hour-long ferry ride from either Boston or Hingham, and for a modest charge, you can book your trip to one of the eight publicly accessible islands. While only the Georges, Spectacle, Peddocks, Lovells, Little Brewster, Grape, Bumpkin and Thompson Islands are available by ferry, 19 others are visitable by private vessel and three are unfortunately closed to the public due to extenuating circumstances.

The Hyatt Regency hotel in Boston, with a view of some of the harbor islands.
The Hyatt Regency hotel in Boston, with a view of some of the harbor islands.

There is a wide array of activities to keep you busy when visiting the Boston Harbor Islands. From lounging or swimming at the plentiful picturesque beaches to trekking or trail running along the miles of woodland and beach trails spanning the islands, people of all interests are sure to love their time in Eastern Massachusetts’ largest recreational open space.

The nature and wildlife of these islands are rich and telling of years of human alteration. The flora of the islands consists of countless exotic and invasive species that have taken up residence through natural and human-assisted means, once looking completely different than they appear now. You can expect to see a variety of animals and birds on the islands, from creatures as large as deer to some as small as voles, there is no shortage of animal coverage. Bird watching is largely popular among visitors, as birds of all types are attracted to these gorgeous ecosystems.

Young travelers enjoying Boston's Harbor Islands. NPS photos.
Young travelers enjoying Boston’s Harbor Islands. NPS photos.

The islands offer several tent and yurt campgrounds with prior reservation, giving you a decently inexpensive option for staying overnight on any of  Grape, Bumpkin, Lovells or Peddocks islands. Or if you fancy yourself more of a conventional traveler, there are a plethora of excellent hotel options in the Boston Harbor area.

The luxurious Boston Harbor Hotel offers an amazing view of the harbor itself, while also providing an upscale lodging experience for the more affluent visitors. With extensive food and bar options and a world-class fitness and spa area, this hotel will serve as a phenomenal base of operations for your seaward journey.

For a bit more affordable accommodations, the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor hotel is a better option. This 270-room boutique style hotel offers guests a great selection of room styles, including several suite style and king-sized rooms as well as a great number of harbor-view rooms. The Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor contains several options for food and drink, as well as golf, laundry, a business center and a fitness area.

The Boston Harbor Islands are among the greatest island hopping opportunities in the Eastern United States and they are sure to show you a side of Boston that you’ve never imagined!

Book a hotel in Boston on Bonwi—and then use the points for your next trip, maybe to Martha’s Vineyard this time!