It's hard to believe a wild, beach oasis like Plum Island can exist in such close proximity to the bustling metropolis of Boston. Plum Island is an 11-mile barrier island that separates the mouth of the Merrimack River from the Gulf of Maine. Our boutique hotel Blue—Inn on the Beach is one of the few places to stay on this peaceful island preserve, just a short trip from Boston. With all the shipping traffic that once made Newburyport a busy New England port, you can expect to find a historic lighthouse on Plum Island. In fact, the Newbury Harbor Light, also called Plum Island Light, is just under two miles north of Blue—Inn on the Beach, making it a nice walk to tour the historic Newburyport lighthouse and its grounds.
The Newburyport lighthouse was constructed in 1788, to help guide ships into Newburyport Harbor. The sand dunes and wetlands that make up Plum Island are constantly in flux, meaning finding the entrance to the harbor without running aground wasn't easy. Businessmen, tired of losing their valuable goods to shipwrecks, pooled funds to pay for the construction of the lighthouse. President George Washington appointed a lighthouse keeper after the light was built, and it was staffed until 1951. The light is now electric and still used for navigational purposes. Its Fresnel lens is still in place in the tower, a rarity for historic lighthouses.
Tours are offered by the Friends of Plum Island Light on Open House days throughout the summer and fall. You will climb 35-feet to the top of the tower and have a great view of Newburyport, the Isle of Shoals, Cape Ann, and the coast of Maine. If you find the lighthouse closed, you can still tour the grounds and admire this historic Newburyport lighthouse. The Newburyport lighthouse is a must-see for any fans of nautical history!