Visiting Thacher & Straitsmouth Islands

Overview

Thacher Island is located about a mile offshore of Rockport, Massachusetts and Straitsmouth Island is located about 500 feet offshore of the town. Rockport is a small seacoast town located 40 miles north of Boston and can be reached via Route 128 north. Although the islands may be viewed from the shore from either Eden Road or Marmion Way, the best way to view the islands is by going there.

Landing Fee

All persons over 14 years of age will be charged a $5 landing fee. This fee will be waived for all who can show proof they are Rockport residents, paid-up Thacher Island Association members, holders of National Park Service America the Beautiful passes, a valid Federal Duck Stamp, or arriving aboard the Thacher Island launch. Landing fees will be payable in the form of cash or check to the keeper on duty in the boat house.

Launch Access

Seats aboard the Thacher Island launch cost $40 per adult and $10 for children under 12 years of age. Rockport residents can reserve a seat for $15 per adult, with no fee for children under 12. Current Thacher Island Association members are eligible to reserve multiple seats free of charge, depending upon their membership level. All seats must be reserved in advance and go on sale beginning May 13th on Eventbrite. Information about launch reservations, with links to Eventbrite, can be found on the Thacher Island website. The launch fee will be reimbursed if the trip is canceled due to weather or rough seas. However, all passengers, including Rockport residents and paid-up Thacher Island Association members will be required to pay a launch fee if they cancel their reservation less than one week prior to departure.

The island is open to the public each year from June 1st through August 31st.

Trip Schedule for 2023

  • Launch trips begin on June 6th and continue through August 30th (weather permitting).
  • Tuesday mornings to Straitsmouth Island - 2-hour trips, with three-morning departures
  • Wednesday mornings to Thacher Island - 2 1/2 hour trips, with four morning departures
  • Saturday mornings to Thacher Island - 2 1/2 hour trips, with five-morning departures
  • Reservations can be made by online through Eventbrite ("Rockport Activities"), which can also be reached through the Thacher Island website.
  • As each trip is limited to 6 passengers, reservations should be made as early as possible. Trips to the island are not recommended for children under 4 years of age, and because the island is a wildlife refuge, the trip is off-limits to pets.
  • Travel aboard the Thacher Island launch for an exciting 20-minute ride out to these magnificent historical islands. Donations are gratefully accepted and put toward the maintenance of the island.
  • All launches leave from Rockport Granite Pier at the end of Wharf Road off of Granite Street. View the map.

By Kayak

Other ways to get to the islands are by kayak (which you can rent in Town on Bearskin Neck) or by your own boat. There is no dock on either island, only a ramp which may only be used by the Association's launch or kayaks. The distance from Rockport Harbor to Thacher Island is about 3 miles. Straitsmouth Island is closer. The Association asks kayakers to use caution, pay attention to weather conditions, and turn back if they feel uncomfortable. This is not a good paddle for novice kayakers or those with limited endurance. Unless you are an experienced kayaker, we do not recommend that you paddle out to the islands. Don't forget to bring money for the landing fee or you will be turned away. Groups larger than 5 boats must call the keepers in advance to state their expected arrival time and plan to be there before closing at 5 pm.

Your Boat

We make 3 guest moorings available to the Thacher Island ramp, about 50 yards offshore. You must call the keeper on the island in advance at 508-284-0144 to tell him you are coming. Bring along a dingy which you can land on the ramp. Only small row boats (less than 6 feet) and kayaks are allowed to land on the ramp. They must be taken up the ramp and stored behind the boat house. Landing fees apply. Call the keeper before you leave to check the weather and ramp conditions.

Parking

Parking is available on the upper deck of Granite Pier. Parking is free for Rockport residents and $6 for non-residents and should be paid at the red parking shack - either by paying the attendant or leaving your fee in a designated envelope. When approaching the red Granite Pier parking shack, stay to the left of the shack to park on the upper deck - then park on the right side. A staircase is available about two-thirds of the way down the pier on the right and will bring you down to the lower level to board the launch.

What to Bring

Water, sunscreen, jacket. Sandals are not recommended for climbing the towers or walking the trails. Food and drinks are not available on the islands. Note that Straitsmouth Island has ticks, and bug spray is highly recommended. In addition, the stairs from the Straitsmouth Island boat ramp up to the bluff, where you access the trails to the keeper's house and lighthouse, are very steep. They may not be easily navigated by all visitors.

Island Closing Times

The islands close every day at 5 pm. The lighthouses are closed and locked each day at that time. Campers on Thacher Island must arrive before 5 pm.