Misery Islands

Misery Islands offer coastal views, rolling rocky terrain, diverse wildlife habitats, and interesting ruins that recall the Islands’ past as an exclusive resort and summer colony. A system of trails provides access to most parts of Great Misery Island, including spectacular overlooks, stony beaches, and grassy fields. Little Misery Island is accessible from Great Misery Island by wading across a narrow, shallow channel at very low tide. On the beach of Little Misery can be seen the remains of the steamship, The City of Rockland, wrecked off the coast of Maine and scuttled here many years ago. The Misery Island Syndicate bought the Islands in 1900. They built the Misery Island Club, which featured a pier, a club house, 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 a year after opening. Subsequent business ventures failed, but individual lots sold and a summer colony of more than twenty-five cottages took hold. In 1926, however, a devastating brush fire destroyed many homes, and summer families eventually lost interest in the islands. Before its last three acres were acquired in 1997, several threats to Misery Islands had been fended off, including a 1935 plan for a twelve-million-gallon oil storage facility and a 1988 plan for a secondary sewage treatment plant. The name Misery Islands arose from the ordeal of shipbuilder Robert Moulton. Harvesting timber on the islands in the 1620s, Moulton became stranded for three miserable days during a December storm.


Salem Sound Salem, MA 1970

Driving Directions

Notes & Advisories

Misery Islands are situated between the harbors of Marblehead and Manchester-by-the-Sea, 0.5 mi. off West Beach in Beverly Farms (Note: West Beach is a private beach, and no launching is available from it). Access by dinghy, canoe, or kayak at any of three rocky beaches nearby.


  • Beaches
  • Historic Resources
  • Natural Resources
  • Swimming & Boating


  • Appropriate for all ages
  • Restrooms Available