Little Brewster Island

small rocky island with a white lighthouse

NPS Photo/ A. Moorehead

Home to Boston Light, the oldest lighthouse site in the country.

This bedrock outcropping is one of the Brewsters, a group of the outermost islands in the park. Little Brewster Island is an active Coast Guard navigational aid facility and is not currently not open to visitors.


General Information

This island of Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park is managed by U.S. Coast Guard, First District.


Visitor Facilities & Services

There is currently no public access to Little Brewster Island or Boston Light due to ongoing maintenance following winter storms. Boston Light Harbor Cruise Tours are available on a limited basis. Please refer to our Boston Lighthouse Tours page to learn more about tour availability.

By arrangement
Visitor season:
Boat slips:
Visitor staff:
Guided tours:
Park boats:
Park tour boat
Car access:
Flush toilets:
0 (capacity ea: 0)
Composting toilets:
Group campsites:
0 (capacity ea: 0)
Picnic areas:
Camping capacity:
Cooking grills:
Drinking water:
Walking trails:


On-island Circulation: Concrete paths link the lighthouse, keeper's house, sheds and the dock facilities that are on the west side of island.

Visitor Cautions: The island is composed of rock outcrops and bluffs that are sharp, slippery and steep thus visitors should be careful and stay on paths.


Short History

This two-acre island is best known as the home of Boston Light, the country's oldest continually used lighthouse site (1716). Originally financed by a tax of a penny-a-ton on all vessels entering and leaving the harbor, the stone lighthouse was largely destroyed by the British when they evacuated Boston at the close of the Revolutionary War, but was rebuilt in 1783. In 1859, the tower was raised 14 feet to its present height of 102 feet above sea level. This structural change enables its light to flash 27 miles out into the Atlantic. By 1990, the Coast Guard had automated every lighthouse in the United States, with Boston Light scheduled to be last in the process. Preservation groups appealed to Congress and the Coast Guard and funding was appropriated to keep Coast Guard staff on the island, where they remain to this day, recording meteorological data in addition to maintaining the light and structures on the island.

Boston Light is a National Historic Landmark, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. For more information about the facility, please go to the National Park Service Maritime Heritage Program Inventory of Historic Light Stations.


Natural History Overview


Most of the island is covered with mowed turf. Some seasonal flowers are planted around the keepers house.


Please see Animals page for more information.


The island is composed of exposed bedrock and covered with a thin layer of soil.

Water Features

Two cisterns collect rainwater for the keepers. One is located in the keeper's house. The other larger cistern is housed under a hip-roofed shed that collects rain.

Views and Vistas

Rising 89 feet, visitors that ascend the light with the permission of the U. S. Coast Guard staff enjoy excellent views of the Brewsters, the Graves, Hull, the inner islands and the Boston skyline, almost ten miles away. On the ground, the island offers unrestricted views due to the lack of vegetation



  • Lighthouse - 89-feet high; rubble stone, brick and granite; strengthened with iron bands
  • One-story, brick lighthouse entry building (attached to tower)
  • Keeper's house - 1-1/2 story frame and clapboard
  • Cistern and shelter - one-story wooden, hipped roof shed and 20,000-gallon tank
  • Generator building - one-story, one-room stone structure with mounted foghorn
  • Oil house - one-story, white painted brick.

  • None

  • Pier - concrete and steel; formerly with marine railway to boathouse

Last updated: November 30, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

15 State Street
4th Floor

Boston, MA 02109


617 223-8666

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