Venture out by boat and hike past the remains of a former resort on the way to a mixed habitat of upland forest, small meadows, and rocky shore.
In the 1620s, shipbuilder Captain Robert Moulton became stranded here during a winter storm—he described the ordeal as “three miserable days,” giving the islands their name. Now, however, experiencing the islands—83-acre Great Misery and 4-acre Little Misery—is decidedly more pleasurable.
The island itself has a history that goes back to the Mosconomet Indians, while the ruins of an early-20th-century resort reveal that this offshore retreat was a haven for leisure and recreation a century ago. In 1900, a business group set its sights on Great Misery Island, developing the Misery Island Club. It boasted a pier, a clubhouse, a saltwater swimming pool, guest cottages, a tennis court, and a nine-hole golf course. Tournaments and regattas attracted Boston and North Shore socialites, but the club fell on hard times only a year after opening. Eventually, individual lots sold and a summer colony of more than 25 cottages took hold. In 1926, however, a devastating brush fire destroyed many homes, and summer families eventually lost interest in the islands. Through the years, the islands continued to draw visitors enchanted with views of the North Shore and Salem Sound and a variety of intriguing habitats.
Two and a half miles of trails traverse groves of aspen, open meadows, spectacular overlooks, and rugged, rocky shorelines that add to the wild beauty of the islands. You can also reach Little Misery Island from Great Misery Island by wading across a narrow, shallow channel at very low tide. And on the beach of Little Misery you can see the remains of the steamship, The City of Rockland, wrecked off the coast of Maine and scuttled here many years ago.
When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.
Free for all.
Salem, MA 01944
The Misery Islands are situated between the harbors of Marblehead and Manchester-by-the-Sea, approximately 0.5 miles south of West Beach in Beverly Farms (Note: West Beach is a private beach where public boat launching is not permitted.)
The Trustees does not offer any boat excursions to the Misery Islands. Visitors may access the islands by dinghy, canoe, or kayak.
Public restrooms are closed currently due to COVID-19 precautions.
To view or download a trail map, click here.
With roughly 27,000 acres under management, The Trustees is devoted to protecting ecologically significant environments across our portfolio.
Seeking, protecting, and caring for Massachusetts’ most special places
From 1673 until 1900, a series of families owned and farmed land on Great Misery Island. The most well-known owner during this time was Daniel Neville, dubbed “Lord of the Isles,” for his proprietary or hospitable air (depending on the source). Neville bought the Island in 1849 and raised a large family here. The Nevilles owned Misery Islands for the next 50 years until their daughter, Annie, sold the property in 1900 for the then-unimaginable price of $60,000.
Misery Island has beaches, walking trails, historic ruins, bath rooms and sea glass! We will make this trip again!
– joietoyou, TripAdvisor
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