The ancient Fort Independence finds its home on this impressive harbor peninsula, a beautiful place to walk and relax along the waterfront.
With 22 acres of parkland and a rare stretch of sandy beach, Castle Island is both a monument to the defense of Boston Harbor and a remarkably peaceful place to unwind by the water. Explore the history of the great Fort Independence or simply lie back and enjoy the scenery. Either way, relish a moment of calm on Boston’s storied waterfront.
Castle Island was first fortified in 1632, and three cannons were later installed to defend Boston from sea attacks. The island was later home to a strong brick fort called “Castle William,” named after English King William III of Orange. When the 1773 Boston Tea Party took place, many British loyalists retreated to Castle William for safety. The victorious rebels eventually took over the island and dedicated a new fort which would be named, according to the spirit of the times, “Fort Independence.”
Admire the impressive granite complex that you see upon arrival on Castle Island. It was conceived in the 19th century, when the fortification was radically expanded and strengthened by use of local Cape Ann granite. View the structure from the outside or head inside to explore. Free tours are available on weekends during the year’s warmer months: Call ahead for details.
Castle Island is not actually an island. In the 1930s, it was connected to the mainland so that bathers could more easily get to the beach on Pleasure Bay. That charming beach is still in use, with surprisingly high water quality. Linger there for a fine afternoon of swimming, fishing or picnicking.
Walk the path leading around the bay from Fort Independence for sensational views of the city skyline, Boston’s iconic harbor and planes taking off at nearby Logan Airport. This lovely trail is a favorite for local joggers, cyclists and rollerbladers. Continue along the South Boston shore and you will pass popular Carson Beach before reaching the John F. Kennedy Library on Columbia Point.
Castle Island is accessible by bus or car. Bring a picnic or stop by the popular take-out restaurant, Sullivan’s. Conditions can be windy on the peninsula, so dress appropriately.