Spectacle Island Boston: Luaus, Cruises & More

Travel. Eat. Love.
spectacle island

So I totally did something very un-Boston like – I went on a cruise to Spectacle Island and participated in a full on luau!

It was complete with everything you could ever want – except here in Boston.

Hawaii? Who needs it!

I didn’t take any pictures really – too busy just enjoying the moment.

But after coming home it got me wondering – what the heck is Spectacle Island?

I mean, I’ve heard it’s name a dozen times, but I just had to do some more research on the island. But first…the luau.

Since I didn’t have much to recap, Gourmet Pigs did a great job summarizing it all:

Luau on Spectacle Island

Poor piggy 🙁

The summary on this other blog, Gourmet Pigs, is much like my own experience. Some highlights:

  • There’s now a sunset cocktail cruise, a brunch cruise , clambake on Spectacle Island, and also a luau on Spectacle Island.
  • Given the timing of the luau, we also got to watch the sunset over the Boston skyline from Spectacle Island!
  • A visit to Spectacle Island is a great way to spend a summer day in Boston, and having a pork-filled luau makes it even better.

Spectacle Island (Massachusetts) 

Of course, I turned to Wikipedia to get some trusted info on Spectacle Island:

  • It’s only 105 acres, and it’s 4 miles off the coast of Boston
  • The island got bigger with the dumping of trash and dirt, together with subsequent landscaping – ewww
  • Spectacle Island is now one of the highest points on Boston Harbor
  • A horse rendering plant was built on Spectacle Island in 1857, followed by a city trash incinerator that remained active until 1935.

Spectacle Island – An Island Retreat Minutes from Boston

This is a pretty good rundown on the island. Some highlights:

  • A former smallpox quarantine and garbage dump turned into a bucolic retreat for city dwellers…with the help of truckloads of dirt excavated from the Big Dig.
  • Europeans began using the 100-acre island in the mid-1600s as a source of firewood and, later, a smallpox quarantine.
  • Thus began a dark time, as the island became the site of a horse rendering plant in 1857 and a garbage incinerator soon after.

Boston Harbor Islands – Cruises, Ferries, Things to Do – Boston Discovery Guide

The Boston Discovery Guide highlights some pretty cool things about the Boston Harbor Islands if you’re looking for a paid cruise:

  • This ride lets you see the Boston Harbor Islands and beautiful city skyline views.
  • Purchase tickets and depart at Long Wharf next to the Long Wharf Marriott Hotel, or check the MBTA website for more information.
  • Sail to the Harbor Islands Boston Harbor Islands at sunset Several islands – Spectacle, Georges, Gallops, and Peddocks Island
  • After stopping at Spectacle Island, the Long Wharf ferries continue on to Georges Island, which is also where you can catch the water shuttles to other islands.
  • Ferry service between Spectacle and Georges Islands is included in the basic fare that you pay at Long Wharf.

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

The National Park Planner has a great rundown on Spectacle Island:

  • The fact that it has direct ferry service from Boston’s Long Wharf North with multiple boats arriving each day, and that the operating season starts in mid-May and ends at columbus day, providing two more months of service than to most other islands in the park, certainly adds to its popularity.
  • If you are near Hingham, either take the subway or the MBTA commuter ferry to Boston, then travel from Boston to Spectacle (do the reverse to return home).
  • Activities on Spectacle Island include hiking, swimming, picnicking, kayaking, and  fishing .


All in all, it was awesome to discover a new island right in our own backyard here in Boston. It may not be the most impressive island in the world, but I love learning about the history of small little islands.

When you can’t make the trip to Hawaii, bring the luau to your backyard!

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Travel. Eat. Love.