Going Ashore

The Misery Islands supposedly got their name after a local shipbuilder, harvesting timber, spent three days stranded by a December storm in the 1620s. {TTOR} We've never visited the islands in December, but from May through October, we've found them unanimously pleasant.

The islands are open daily from sunrise to sunset. A Trustees of Reservations caretaker lives on Great Misery from June through Labor Day, and collects a small admission fee. Trustee members are free.

On the beach in either cove there are signs with island maps describing the 2.5 miles of footpaths which criss-cross Great Misery.

Wandering the island, you can see ruins of the often spectacular summer cottages built in the early 1900s, along with traces of their landscaping and a 9-hole golf course, now gone wild.

There are several pleasant picnic areas.

the outhouse on great misery
Jim Griffeth
The two-room composting toilet in the middle of the island is architecturally stunning - bright and airy with skylit interiors and delicately soaring rooflines.
the passage between great and little misery islands
Rich Urmston
The narrow cut between Great and Little Misery is nearly dry at low tide. The beaches on both islands are accessible by dinghy.

One Hour Ashore

It takes about an hour to wander over Great Misery. Little Misery is a separate dinghy trip at most tides.

Off the Beaten Path

It's more a question of when than where. The islands aren't big enough to get away from other visitors on busy weekends, but they are always tranquil. Midweek, you can have half the island to yourself.

Maritime History

A few bits of the wrecked steamship City of Rockland lie on the beach between the islands.

Rainy Day

The only roof is the outhouse.


  • Dinghy
  • Restrooms
  • Transportation

Dinghy in to the beach at either cove.

All trash must be carried off the islands.

Sun Line Cruises runs boats to the islands out of Salem.