Spectacle Island
Spectacle Island
4.5
About
Just 20 minutes from downtown Boston, Spectacle Island is ideal for hiking, swimming, boating, and learning. Stop in at a “green” visitor center with exhibits about the history and evolution of the island. Go swimming on a sandy beach (one of the few on the islands) supervised by trained lifeguards in the summer. Take in panoramic views of the harbor and city from the tallest hill on the Boston Harbor Islands. The marina makes it a popular destination for boaters. Spectacle Island opens upon arrival of the first ferry in May and closes in October each year.
Duration: 2-3 hours
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles122 reviews
Excellent
61
Very good
41
Average
14
Poor
3
Terrible
3

BLM10
New Jersey36 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
I thought this island would be nice to visit with the views of boston harbor, beach access and walking trails.
I didn't realize that this island was actually a garbage landfil turned "park". There isn't much shade on the island as most vegetation are low shrubs with lots of Blackberry bushes along the trials. The ride across the harbor would have been nice if it wasn't a cloudy and cool day . You had to wear masks at all times and socially distance. There are picnic tables throughout the island which was convenient but again, no shade. The island isn't very big and you can walk the whole island in about an hour. Beach areas on one side of island is ok and saw families with kids go into the water so I'm guessing it was warm enough and clean enough. On the positive side, it is close to boston and a nice outing if you are looking for more nature.
Written August 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ruj
Watertown18 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2018 • Family
It's nice island for picnic with kids. Can spend here 2-3 hours.boston views are nice. The water was cold to swim in. There is only one cafe on the island and it was running short of everything tight from drinks to chips!I did find it a bit expensive to come to this island since there is not much we could do
Written September 5, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Reservationfor2
Acton, MA183 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2012 • Friends
We took friends from out of town on this Sunset Harbor Cruise/Summer Shack clambake because we wanted to squeeze in dinner and a harbor cruise. Perfect right? My review is "very good" but because of the overall experience, definitely not the food.
Some basic facts: It's 3 hours door to door (6:30 - 9:30) and we paid about $85 per person which includes full menu and 2 drink tickets. Some long standing blue law means you can only get two tickets for the entire time. If you buy the meal without alcohol price comes down to $80. Not much of a savings. Hmmm...hey kids...give Auntie your drink tickets.
The good news: this is a quick trip (15-20 minutes) and a nice little cruise out to the island. There's a bar on the boat and the receding Boston Skyline is always fun for out-of-towners and locals alike. While you are on a full boat that is bit cramped it's not unbearable given the short ride. Once you disembark you are free to roam about. The Summer Shack is set up right off the dock area so if you want to just find a seat and chill out you don't have to go gallivanting around. One tip, we got drinks as we were getting off the boat so we didn't have to deal with lines at the Shack. The island is really nice and when you turn back around you get to see a view of the city many of us are not accustomed to. Sunset over the skyline. It was really a treat. In terms of seating you have limited options. There is a large tented area with picnic tables abutting the building. We're not 'crowd' lovers so opted for one of the stand alone picnic tables along the walkway. The staff bring you your food so need to go back to the main area.
The bad news: the Summer Shack continued its reputation of being overpriced and mediocre. While I hate to say it...even bad. The whole meal, lobster, potatoes, chorizo, corn, mussels, steamers etc is all dropped in a sack of netting and cooked together. Rather ingenious when serving such multitudes. By the time it gets to you though it's no longer warm and the quality is just ok and I'm being kind.
The final assessment however is that we all had fun. While you could absolutely make a better clambake in your own back yard the experience of the island and the boat were worth it. Our friends had two teenage daughters who loved it and it was a very relaxed nice way to spend the evening. The ride back into the city with the skyline lit up was a perfect way to end the evening.
The views were incredible and the staff was excellent. I would definitely recommend this if you're ok with mediocre food but want to give out of town guests a fun night and some nice memories.
Written September 24, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

w81minute
Concord, NH247 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2011 • Business
I visited the island for a work outing on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon and was pleasantly surprised by how pretty the island was. I parked for $35 at the Boston Harbor Garage located @ 299 Milk Street. I could have found a cheaper place to park but this was located right next to the aquariam and warf so I opted to pay the high price for the convenience. The ferry was on-time, clean and comfortable. We arrived after a 10-15 minute ride which offered beautiful views of the harbor. The welcome center has island history, photo's, beach glass, restrooms and snack shack. There are a dozen or so picinic tables right near the welcome center and also scattered up the winding path to the top of the island. The views from the island were amazingly pretty on a perfect summer day! I think the island offers something for everone, a small beach area for swimming or exploring the shoreline, nature hiking trails with beatiful views, comfortable chairs located at the welcome center if you just want to enjoy the view in the shade and a snack shack for something to nibble on.

I would recommend bringing a bottle of water, towel or picininc blanket, sunblock, camera, binocculars, light jacket and if you are up for hiking sneakers because the paths are uphill/gravel. Enjoy!
Written August 28, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

rogersober
Clermont, FL37,016 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020 • Couples
The NP system reclaiming a garbage dump that was a glue factory before? I am not sure this was well spent Resourses in the direct path of Logan takeoff launch way? The large sums of sea glass coming out of the dump or harbor that are not to be taken from a NP seem like the minimum souvenir you should get for $25 round trip to a dump? This was almost the worst NP experience I have paid for in over sixty years. If your thinking of a beach day here go to Salem instead for a better beach and shells you can take home!
Written August 21, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

glm0rgan
Boston, MA14 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2017 • Friends
For those of you from out of town, please note that the Boston Harbor Islands are magical, and loaded with history, for example, pirate lore and haunted places. (If you are truly interested, read Edward Rowe Snow's excellent book "The Islands of Boston Harbor.") I visited Spectacle Island on a yacht club sailing trip and found it enchanting. We stayed over-night, sleeping in the boat. There are a wide variety of trees and grasses, a paved walking trail and amazing views of Boston. They have dock-age, and a cafe during the summer. Definitely bring your walking shoes, as you will want to explore.
Written July 4, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

WorldView2
Boston, MA122 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2017 • Couples
My friends and family made this an afternoon trip and took the ferry out to the island. The dock is huge and the beach was beautiful with only a few people around. We went late in the season but it was a delightful day and felt like we were on vacation. Such an amazing resource to have for all of us residents.
Written January 3, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Hawkhardt
Ottawa, Canada125 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2016 • Couples
We thoroughly enjoyed our half day trip to Spectacle Island - leaving on the 10:30 BHC ferry and returning at 3:30. On the outgoing trip a guide explained the sights in the Boston Harbor and talked about the interesting history of Spectacle Island - from garbage dump to picnic and hiking island. There are easy and interesting paths around the island and trails to the higher points on each end. The staff at the center were very helpful. There is a small restaurant that was not open during our visit in late September, so you may want to bring your own snacks or lunch. There is not much shade except in a couple of pavilions so bring hats and sunglasses if it is a sunny day.
Written October 2, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Christine R
Cork20 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014
The ferry boat ride from Boston was great - lots to see, not too long for my 5 & 2 yr olds. And good value, considering that we could have used our tickets to island hop throughout the day.
The island is well looked after, the food available is limited. The swimming beach was very stoney, so difficult to get into the water. We didn't walk the trails, the day was too hot. We did enjoy our time there, though I couldn't get over the fact that we were sitting on a rubbish tip. It didn't bother the others though.
Written September 9, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

zippy608
Gold Canyon, AZ2,078 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014 • Couples
Spectacle Island is just a short ferry ride from Boston. It is a great place to visit by yourself or with your family. There is a visitors center with rest rooms and a snack bar with tables, benches and chairs. There are walking paths that circle the island and the views of the Boston skyline are beautiful. There is also a small beach with a lifeguard and yes, lots of sea glass. Throughout the Summer there are activities for kids including kite making and flying.

We spent a couple of hours walking the paths and flying a kite. We walked the beach with the sea glass while we waited for the ferry to take us back to Boston. It is a great place to spend the day or just a few hours.
Written September 5, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Spectacle Island - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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