Located in the northernmost corner of Massachusetts, Plum Island is an 11-mile long barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the town of Newburyport. With plenty of things to do on Plum Island, both beach and nature enthusiasts will love the Plum Island beaches and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Plum Island Newburyport is also well-located for exploring the nearby North Shore of Massachusetts as well as the beaches of New Hampshire.
Things to do on Plum Island
Plum Island is the perfect weekend getaway spot from Boston as it is a short drive and is easily accessible. These are some of the best things to do in Plum Island, Newburyport.
Joppa Flats Education Center
On the way out to Plum Island, the Massachusetts Audobon society runs a 54 acre nature center. It offers guided tours, marine touch tanks and interpretive displays.
Located on the important Atlantic flyway, Joppa Flatts has bird watching activities all year such as Wednesday Birding, a tradition that has been going on for 26 years now. It hosts annual birdwatching events such as the Super Bowl of Birding in January and Merrimack River Eagle Festival in February.
Address: 1 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, MA 01950
Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
On the southern half of the island, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 and occupies more than 4600 acres. Over 800 species of birds, plants, and animals can be found in this nature reserve which includes almost 6 miles of sand dunes and ocean beach on one side and salt marshes on the other side.
Among the activities available at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge include cycling, hiking, wildlife viewing, kayaking and shellfishing. Birdwatchers gather for some of the most spectacular wildlife in New England.
Migratory birds flock here seasonally and there are plenty of shorebirds that nest in the protected area. For example, March and October sees thousands of migrating geese and ducks. During the summer months, parts of the beach are protected for piping plovers, an endangered shorebird species.
Plum Island hiking include the easy and paved 1 mile Hellcat Marsh Loop at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.
The Pink House is an abandoned house on Plum Island that is a (in)famous spite house. One of several in Massachusetts, spite houses are built to annoy a neighbor or a relation.
Owned today by the Parker River National Refuge, Pink House is the result of an acrimonious 1920’s divorce. The woman wanted an exact copy of the marital home in Newburyport itself. Her devious husband agreed and built the house in the middle of nowhere and the salt marshes.
Plum Island Airport
If you have a plane spotter in the family, you need to check out Plum Island airport, the oldest airfield the USA. The first flight from Plum Island airport took places in 1909, well before the Katama Airfield in Edgartown Martha’s Vineyard.
Plum Island Beaches
Plum Island has some of the most beautiful beaches in MA, especially Plum Island Beach. Newbury Beach is a quiet family-friendly beach too. Another Plum Island beach, Massachusetts offers is on the Sandy Point State Reservation on the south of the island.
Located on the north shore of Plum Island, Plum Island Beach faces Salisbury Beach State Reservation across the water. Kids will enjoy watching the boats going in and out of Newburyport Harbor.
Plum Island Kayak
If you would like a guided tour, Plum Island Kayak offers kayaking tours of the island. Among the places they go on their kayaking tours is Joppa Flats, Parker Island Wildlife National Refuge and Plum Island Sound.
Address: 92 Merrimac St, Newburyport MA 01950
Plum Island Lighthouse
Also known as the Newburyport Harbor Light, the lighthouse was built at the end of the 1700s as the 13th lighthouse built in the country. The Plum Island lighthouse is small (standing only 45-feet tall) and still uses its original lens!
There is a stretch of tranquil green lawn surrounding Plum Island Lighthouse. In the wintertime, the scene surrounding the lighthouse completely changes as the white tower blends in with its snowy surroundings.
Sandy Point State Reservation
You can only get to Sandy Point State Reservation by going through Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Set on 77 acres, there is a beautiful sandy beach facing the Atlantic Ocean. There is limited Plum Island beach parking here as well.
Nearby North Shore of Massachusetts
Thriving Newburyport has plenty of cool things to do from nearby Plum Island MA. Ironically though Plum Island is technically part of the town of Newbury.
You can take whale watching tours from Newburyport. Visit the Custom House Maritime Museum to learn about the Coast Guard which started in Newburyport. There are lots of cafes, restaurants and stores in Newburyport.
North Shore of Massachusetts
Elsewhere on the North Shore of Massachusetts, you have the town of Amesbury which alohas a rich maritime tradition. Amesbury is the home of Lowell’s Boat shop, opened in 1793, the oldest continuously operating boat shop in the US.
Nearby, Essex is known for its many antique stores and the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. During its illustrious past, this little town built more two-masted schooners than anywhere else in the world.
There are a selection of beautiful Massachusetts state parks near Plum Island MA.
- At the mouth of the Merrimack River, Salisbury Beach State Park has nearly a 4 mile beach for swimming and water sports.
- Maudsley State Park, runs along part of the Merrimack River, and was created from the estate of a prominent Newburyport family.
- The park has trails for biking, hiking and horseback riding. With a converted granite quarry in the middle, Halibut Point State Park is great for hiking and fishing.
The North Shore of Massachusetts town of Ipswich is known for the nature reserve on the Crane Estate as well as for rolling countryside, and beautiful beaches, especially well-regarded Crane Beach.
Beaches of New Hampshire
The beaches of New Hampshire are near Plum Island as well. With only 18 miles long of shoreline, New Hampshire’s coastline is small but beautiful.
Hampton Beach is a family-friendly beach with a boardwalk. The Rye beaches are much emptier and quieter. Rye Harbor Lobster has one of the BEST lobster rolls we have ever had (and we’ve sampled a fair few).
Plum Island Restaurants
Plum Island MA restaurants are a relatively small yet excellent selection.
Plum Island Grille
Plum Island Grille is a great fish and seafood restaurant and their specialty dish, a Thai Seafood Stew, gives an eclectic twist on a New England favorite.
Address: 2 Plum Island Turnpike #2035, Newbury, MA 01951
Beachcoma Plum Island
For something a bit more casual head to Beachcoma Plum Island. At Plum Island Beachcoma, you can often enjoy live music while sipping on beachside drinks or digging into tacos and sandwiches.
Address: 23 Plum Island Turnpike
If you are looking for more casual restaurants, Plum Island visitors love Bob’s Lobster. Like a lot of New England restaurants, Plum Island MA also has a well-known place for standard beach fare. Bob’s Lobster serves up fried seafood, clam chowder and lobster rolls and meets all such expectations.
Address: 49 Plum Island Turnpike
Mad Martha’s Cafe
Yet another one of the casual restaurants Plum Island locals love, Mad Martha’s Cafe serves up breakfast favourites, sandwiches and burritos across from one of the Plum Island beaches.
Address: 51 Northern Blvd
Plum Island Hotels
Accommodation on Plum Island MA ranges from a boutique hotel to Plum Island vacation rentals such as rooms for rent, cottages and beachfront houses.
Although hotels in Plum Island MA are limited in choice, nearby Newburyport has great hotels near Newburyport MA.
Set right on a Plum Island beach MA is the charming boutique hotel, Blue Inn. Their upscale cottage atmosphere harmoniously coincides with the natural surroundings.
The 13 rooms are clad in luxurious white linens with splashes of blue, emulating the tranquility of the ocean. All their rooms have unbeatable ocean views and are large king and queen en-suite rooms with modern amenities.
Address: 20 Fordham Way
Plum Island AirBnB
Plum Island Massachusetts has a great selection of Airbnbs on offer. With a Plum Island AirBnB, you can find rooms and cottages to suit your needs. You can usually find Plum Island beach rentals that are either on the beach or with water views because the island is not very big.
Plum Island Vacation Rentals
Other Plum Island Massachusetts rentals are available through rental agencies like VRBO. Plum Island MA rentals tend to cater to small families. If you are going as a large group, you may need to hire multiple Plum Island MA vacation rentals near each other like the two we suggest below on Newbury Beach. Don’t worry too much about the location of these vacation rentals, Plum Island isn’t very big!
Here are some great Plum Island Rentals that are available through Airbnb Plum Island and VRBO Plum Island.
- A 3 bedroom 1.5 bathroom cottage right on Plum Island Beach
- A waterfront 3 bedroom 2 bed cottage within easy walking distance of Plum Point beaches
- A 2 bedroom 2 bath cottage on Newbury Beach WITH parking!
- A 4 bedroom 1 bath family cottage on Newbury beach
- A 3.5 bedroom 1.5 bathroom cottage located across the street from Newbury Beach and available for year-round rental.
We hope these Plum Island Massachusetts rentals give you some idea of what to expect on this beautiful barrier island!
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