Thacher Island and Straitsmouth Island are both accessed by ramps which may only be used by the Thacher launch, a dinghy or kayaks. 

The distance to Thacher Island from Rockport Harbor is about 3 miles and the Association asks kayakers to use caution, pay attention to weather conditions, and turn back if you feel uncomfortable. It is not a simple paddle for novice kayakers or those with limited endurance. Straitsmouth Island is closer to shore but kayakers must beware of rocks when approaching the ramp at low tide.

Groups larger than 5 boats must call the keepers in advance with their expected arrival time. A $5 donation is suggested for each person arriving by kayak. The islands close to the public at 5pm.

Neither Thacher Island nor Straitsmouth Island has a dock. Access to both islands is by ramp only. 

Thacher Island has 3 guest moorings adjacent to the 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. Moorings are free on a first come, first served basis. 

Straitsmouth Island has no moorings, but normally allows dinghies to land on the ramp. Boaters must move their dinghies off the ramp to the adjacent shoreline once they land.

A $5 donation per person is suggested. The islands close to the public at 5pm.

The Thacher Island boat launches operate trips to Thacher Island on Wednesdays and Saturdays and limited Tuesdays from June through August, along with trips to Straitsmouth Island on Tuesdays. Reservations are required for all passengers, and links to reserve your tickets are posted under Launch Reservation Information.

Note: Each trip is limited to 6 passengers so we suggest you make reservations early. Launch trips to the islands cannot carry children under 3 years of age due to our U.S. Coast Guard restrictions. Both islands are wildlife refuges and are off-limits to pets.

Departure location: All launches leave from Rockport Granite Pier at the end of Wharf Road off of Granite Street. Parking is available on the upper deck of Granite Pier.

COVID precautions:  Masks are suggested for all enclosed spaces including the museum and lighthouse.

Climbing Thacher Island Twin Towers

The Thacher Island towers are identical and were completed in 1861. They are each 124 feet high, with 156 steps to the top, and stand about 164 feet above the waterline. Each tower is 22 feet in diameter at the base and narrows to 13 feet at the lantern room. They are constructed of solid granite on the outside with a two-foot thick inner wall of brick. Each block of granite weighs over 10 tons.

From the tower one is able to see the skyline of Boston to the south, and the mountains of Maine to the northwest. Looking down to the southeast about a half mile offshore you may see an iron pole jutting out from the water. This marks an area called the “Londoner” so named because of the reef just below the surface which has claimed hundreds of vessels, most bound to Boston from London in the early 1700s. This reef was one of the reasons the original twin towers were built by the British of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1771. The other reason was to be able to differentiate Cape Ann Light Station from Boston Light to the south and Portsmouth Light to the north.

Walking Thacher Island


Anne's Way Walk

Thacher Island has 3 miles of groomed walking trails of varying difficulty. This picture shows Anne's Way which leads to the south end of the island. Don't forget to wear sneakers and bring water with you.

Camping on Thacher Island - Closed for the Season

We were delighted to announce that the Thacher Island campground was open through the end of August 2023!  There are no camping facilities on Straitsmouth Island. Plan to join us next summer for camping on Thacher Island.

Please know that camping on Thacher Island is basic: there is no water, firepit or electricity. Open fires are prohibited and campers must bring their own water. This is a carry-in, carry-out island and you must take out everything that you bring with you. The site has an environmentally-friendly solar-powered composting toilet and picnic tables, as well as a large covered pavilion to provide campers with sun and rain protection. No pets are allowed.  Fees are $5 per person, per day, and reservations can be made during the summer by calling the Thacher Island Keeper at 508-284-0144.

A group of tents in the grass near trees.
A large wooden structure with picnic tables underneath it.
A small house with a wooden door and a ramp.

Rockport, Massachusetts