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Boston Harbor Islands in Massachusetts

by  chpaton

A self-supported trip created by chpaton

Trip Overview

I spend a lot of time doing day trip SOT sea kayaking to and around the Outer Islands of Boston Harbor. As my base of operations is Quincy MA, I am always looking for viable put ins in Quincy, Weymouth, Hingham and Hull. There are a number of Islands in Boston Harbor that make wonderful kayaking destinations - most of the islands are owned/maintained by a consortium of organizations which include the Metropolitan District Commission, the National Park Service and the City of Boston. During the summer many of the islands have MDC Rangers or NPS guides on them. Overnight camping is permitted or allowed on many (some require a permit)

Because Quincy Bay is very shallow, I'm always looking for put ins that are useable at low water. The best one I've found in Quincy is the boat ramp at the Quincy Marine Center on Hough's neck. Ample free public parking is available - there are no "residential" restrictions - the Center has public restrooms and an outside shower. Best of all plenty of room to share with the power boaters also using the ramp (mostly during high water).

From the launch point Peddocks Island is about a half mile north, Grape Island is about a mile east and Bumpkin Island a mile and 3/4 northeast. Other islands, Georges, Lovell, Rainsford, Gallops are all within 4 miles.

Sea conditions will vary - they can range from a flat calm to heavy chop. Ocean swells can be experinced on the back side of Lovell's and Gallop's. Tidal currents need to be considered because do run at 3+ knots at certain times thru some of the narrower channels. Wind should also be factored typical summer time conditions have the breeze building from land to offshore in the afternoon - it's usually in your face or on your bow quarter returning to the launch site.

The wide variety of potential destinations make for wonderful kayaking opportunities. Depending on weather and water conditions, you virually can design a day trip for any level of ability. Overnighters and extended stays can be done as well.

All distances are in nautical miles. All compass headings are magnetic.

Quincy Marine Center(QMC), Hough's Neck to Peddock's Is. 1.25 miles NE (a circumnavigation of Peddocks starting and ending at QMC is 4.33 miles)
QMC to Grape Is. 1.25 miles SE
QMC to Sheep Is. 1.5 miles ENE
QMC to Bumpkin Is. 2.5 miles E
QMC to Rainsford Is. 2.75 miles N

Rainsford to Long Is. .75 miles N
Rainsford to Gallops Is. 1.25 NE
Rainsford to Georges Is. 1.25 miles ENE

Peddock's to Georges 1.75 miles NE

George's to Lovell's .25 miles NE

Lovells to Great Brewster 1.75 miles ENE


From Boston and points north. Take the SE Expressway (I - 93) south to exit 12 for Quincy. Take route 3A (Hancock St.) south, or follow Quincy Shore Dr. south. If using route 3A you'll have to bear left at the Southern Artery (you'll see a ballfield on the left) to stay on 3A. After getting on the Southern Artery go to the second set of traffic lights, take a left on to Sea St. (the Quincy PD is the first building on Sea St.) follow Sea St. until you come to Louis Crossing restaurant, take a right and you'll see the boat ramp in front of you.

Following Quincy Shore Dr. go to the end. at the lights go left and you'll be on Sea St. follow the directions above.

From the south take I - 93 the SE Expressway towards Boston, get off at the very first Quincy Exit - Furnace Brook Parkway, stay on the Parkway until it ends at Quincy Shore Drive, take a right onto Quincy Shore Drive and follow the directions above.


Edward Rowe Snow's "The Island's of Boston Harbor" (special updated edition published in 2002)

Boston Harbor Chart # 13270

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Open Water/Ocean

Trip Location