Approximately 11 miles long, Plum Island is located off the northeast coast of Massachusetts and earned its name as a result of the wild beach plum shrubs growing on its dunes. Divided between four cities and towns (Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley, and Ipswich), the more developed parts of the island make up the Village of Plum Island, with public beaches, businesses, and private residences. With a national wildlife refuge, restaurants, and miles of sandy beaches, Plum Island is a popular vacation destination and the ultimate coastal getaway.
At the southern end of Plum Island Drive on the tip of the island is Sandy Point State Reservation, a state park that is only open for use during the day. In the opposite direction at the northern tip of the island is the Plum Island Lighthouse, which is the only remaining lighthouse on the island. It also makes the entrance to the mouth of the Merrimack River. Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is home to over 800 species of birds, plants, and animals, and offers miles of sand without the crowds, and it only costs $5 per car to enter. Bird watching is another popular activity on the island, and visitors come from near and far to scope out the resident and migratory bird populations in the salt pannes along the road, and stop at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, which offers organized bird watching tours. Fishing is another fun pastime on Plum Island, and you can cast a line off the shores or sign up for an offshore excursion on a fishing boat.
Plum Island is conveniently seven miles from the nearby town of Newburyport, which is a small coast city in Essex County with lots of fun activities. Maudslay State Park is a great place for a walk or a run, and the Newburyport Farmers Market is a great place where locals get fresh foods from local farmers and vendors. For a history lesson, stop by Custom House Maritime Museum, Old South Presbyterian Church, or catch an intimate performance at the Firehouse Center for the Arts. Another point of interest is Newburyport Brewing Company, a 23-barrel, 3-vessel brew house located just one mile outside of downtown Newburyport that offers tours and drink samples.
Plum Island Drive runs along the inland part of the island, and in the northern section it is lined with many homes. There are different types of exclusive properties available for vacation rentals, including condos, single-family homes, stunning oceanfront estates, and beach cottages. For those looking to stay nearby but not on the island, there are several neighboring towns that offer easy access to Plum Island. Newburyport has a busy downtown area with lots of independent boutiques, and one great area to stay is in one of the condos on High Street. The town of Hingham (an hour-and-a-half away) has Hewitts Landing, a posh waterfront community with scenic access to Boston, and Charlestown (an hour away) is also home to charming cobblestone streets, condos and homes that overlook the water.
Plum Island is accessible via a single road that runs from Newburyport to the north of the island on a causeway and drawbridge over the Plum Island River. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, the city of Newburyport offers a shuttle bus that operates from Friday through Sunday, from Plum Island Point to downtown Newburyport, as well as the Newburyport Commuter Rail Station with a connection to Boston. Plum Island even has its own airport, the Plum Island Airport, which is privately owned by Historic New England.
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