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Northeast

Misery Islands

Salem

87 acres

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.

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Plan Your Visit
  • Overview
  • Ideas for Your Visit
  • Admission & Hours
  • Directions
  • Facilities
  • Property Map
  • Regulations & Advisories

Overview

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.

Ideas for Your Visit

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.

Admission & Hours

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.

Admission
Free for all.

Directions

Salem Sound
Salem, MA 01944
Telephone: 978.526.8687

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.

Facilities

Public restrooms are closed currently due to COVID-19 precautions.

Property Map

To view or download a trail map, click here.

Regulations & Advisories

  • Deer ticks here carry Lyme disease; take precaution by using bug repellent and wearing long pants. Be sure to check yourself for ticks after you leave the island.
  • Mountain biking is not allowed.
  • Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Camping is prohibited for public health reasons.
  • All fires are prohibited except on beaches – extinguish coals or ashes after use.
  • The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Please review our photo and video policy.
Before Setting Out
More to Explore

Alert | COVID-19

Please be aware that because of COVID-19, normal stewardship duties have been delayed, the condition of trails and the overall property may be unfavorable at this time.
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Upcoming Events

History

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.

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The View From Here
See What People Say

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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