Spectacle Island offers several miles of hiking, a visitor center with exhibits, and a swimming beach.
Only four miles from Boston, Spectacle Island (105 acres) features a marina, visitor center, cafe, a life-guarded swimming beach, and five miles of walking trails that lead to the crest of a 157 foot-high hill, offering panoramic views of the harbor and the city.
This island of Boston Harbor Islands national park area is jointly managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the City of Boston. For more information on public access to the island, please visit our partnership website page for Spectacle Island.
Visitor Facilities & Services
On-Island Circulation: Five miles of trails.
Spectacle Island has a varied history that included farming, a quarantine hospital, a glue factory, resort hotels, and a garbage dump. The island was recently the receiving ground for excavated material from the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project. The site is being returned to the public for recreation as a park is constructed over the landfill.
Natural History Overview
Newly planted deciduous and conifer trees, and meadow grasses.
Please see Animals page for more information.
The island was initially composed of two small drumlins connected by a spit. Beginning in the 1920s, deposition of the city's garbage expanded the size and the island by 36 acres. The island is now two technological earth mounds, terraced with retaining walls, roads and vegetation.
Views and Vistas
Spectacle is the highest point in the harbor, with spectacular views of the city and other islands.
Last updated: November 30, 2023