Spectacle Island, Boston

When people think of Boston humidity and history come to mind, but not too often does island hopping. Off the coast of Boston there are 34 islands to explore that are just a quick ferry ride away from the harbor. Activities are plentiful and include everything from hiking, camping, fishing and taking ranger guided tours to learn about the incredible history before you.

Just a 15-minute ride from Boston Harbor is Spectacle Island, one of the most popular to visit. This may surprise you because for most of the 20th century, it’s where Boston’s trash piled up. Yes, you are literally standing on a landfill. During Boston’s “big dig” this is also where much of the clay and sediment that was excavated was shipped. That’s why this island has the highest hill that is over 105  feet tall.

Before any of that, it was a rendering plant, where the city’s dead horses were turned into glue, hides, horsehair products and leather softener. In Colonial times, it had been a resort island (with gambling), a picnic destination, site of a quarantine hospital for immigrants, and in the earliest years a place Native American’s used to hunt and fish.

In an effort to clean it up and make it a touristy place workers planted grasses and other vegetation, built the visitor center, made a sand beach and installed walking paths along the shores and hills. It’s up to speed now, park service vehicles run on solar power and the bathrooms have composting toilets.

Next tie the breeze from Boston Harbor beckons you know where to go.

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For ferry tickets visit:


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