• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Water Transportation

Determine the number of students, teachers, chaperones, and additional support staff that will participate in the island expedition. It is important to be as accurate as possible since the final cost of the vessel will be determined, in part, by the number of passengers. The National Park Service education team strongly recommends a student/teacher ratio of 10 to 1 be adopted. Other factors to consider when selecting a vessel include:
  • Ease of access to departure location
  • Season of operation
  • Vessel capacity
  • Charter or per person fee
  • Student rate
  • Proximity to public transportation

Contact the appropriate vessel company to determine availability of the vessel you feel is best suited to meet your groups needs. Any additional questions should be referred to the education team.

Do not forget to ask the vessel company representative about the availability of nearby public parking.

Trip Tip!: Before reserving a vessel, ask the boat operations about the cancellation policy and what type of deposit is required.

Trip Tip!: Several days prior to your scheduled departure consult the National Weather Service's marine forecast for Boston Harbor. In the event of high winds and rough seas call the vessel company to determine if the trip may be canceled.

 

Departure Locations
Several Boston-based ferry companies provide charter service to Boston Harbor Islands. During the late-spring and early-fall many companies offer regularly scheduled departures to the islands from several Boston area locations.

Boat transportation is available from the following locations.

Downtown Boston

  • Long Wharf (State Street)
  • Rowes Wharf (Atlantic Avenue)
  • Fan Pier (Northern Avenue)

Greater Boston

  • South Boston (Columbia Point/University of Massachusetts - Boston Campus)
  • Quincy (Quincy Shipyard, 703 Washington Street)
  • EDIC Pier-South Boston (Dock #10, Summer Street)

South Shore

  • Hull (Pemberton Point, Main Street)

With the exception of Pemberton Point, all vessel departure locations range from a few feet to a quarter-mile from the closest public transportation. If needed, each departure location offers nearby parking for a fee with the exception of Columbia Point, located on the University of Massachusetts - Boston campus. Parking at Columbia Point may be arranged by contacting the campus police.

Should none of these departure locations prove suitable, a more convenient departure location might be arranged with the ferry company for an additional fee.

Trip Tip!: When planning your expedition don’t forget to factor in travel time to and from the mainland departure location! In general, factor four hours for a roundtrip expedition to your island destination.

Trip Tip!: It’s a good idea to begin your expedition planning by working backwards. Things to consider include: what time you want to be back at school; what time the students need to be picked up for transport home; or what time your school bus needs to be available to transport students from school to home at end of day.

Did You Know?

View from Spectacle Island

Spectacle Island has had one of the most colorful histories of all of the Boston Harbor Islands. Once used as a dumping ground for the city of Boston, Spectacle Island now stands as a symbol of "renewal and reconnection" with over five miles of hiking trails and a solar-assisted visitor center. More...