Boating in Quincy, Massachusetts

Quincy’s Town River is home to three marinas. Photo Eric Brust

The city of Quincy, Massachusetts, is well known for its history, but its boating scene deserves equal billing. Its 27 miles of coastline comprises beaches, rivers, islands and protected coves that are ideal for watersports, fishing, swimming, picnics and whiling away a summer afternoon. Perhaps best of all, Quincy’s location puts mariners within easy striking distance of the fabulous Boston Harbor Islands National Park and its many historic sites and diversions.

View of the Neponset River from Squantum Point. Photo/Tom Richardson.

The birthplace of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Quincy is proudly called “The City of Presidents.” It was also home to the country’s first commercial railroad, constructed in 1826 and known as the “Granite Railway.” Blocks of rock hewn from Quincy quarries were transported via rail to the harbor and shipped to different parts of the coast, including nearby Charlestown, where Quincy granite was used in the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument.

Quincy’s second major industry was shipbuilding. Thomas Watson of telephone fame established the famous Fore River Shipyard, which launched the U.S.S. Lexington aircraft carrier, the battleships Massachusetts and Nevada, and several submarines.

While ships are no longer built on the Fore River, Quincy still sees plenty of maritime traffic, albeit mostly of the recreational kind. And boaters who call on Quincy won’t lack for things to do once they dock. The city itself has numerous waterfront restaurants, shops, historic sites, museums and other attractions, all of it on the doorstep of one of the busiest harbors on the East Coast.

As the largest full-service marine facility in New England, Safe Harbor Marina Bay is the focal point of Quincy’s waterfront scene, drawing sailors, anglers and cruisers from all along the Eastern seaboard. Located on Dorchester Bay, just east of Neponset River and the former Squantum Naval Air Station (now a scenic park), the 686-slip marina is only seven miles south of downtown Boston and minutes from Boston Harbor, making it a convenient stop for local boaters and transients who want to sample urban boating at its best.

Marina Bay is home to several restaurants. Photo Josh Kuchinsky

The wooden boardwalk surrounding the well-protected dock basin provides a perfect pathway for exploring the many businesses that occupy the Safe Harbor Marina Bay complex. There are three on-site restaurants, eight indoor/outdoor bars and a nightclub, plus a convenience store, a gift shop, a dry-cleaning service, an ice-cream stop, a deli and more. Most establishments offer dockage, so you can be enjoying dinner and drinks under the stars just moments after tying up.

Among the many restaurants at Marina Bay are the WaterClub, Siros, and Reelhouse, and Port 305, many offering spectacular views of the Boston skyline. After dinner, diners can head over to Cream & Sugar for an ice cream.

The clock tower at Marina Bay serves as a convenient landmark for boaters. Photo Tom Richardson

You don’t even need to own a boat to enjoy the water at Marina Bay. The marina is home to a Freedom Boat Club franchise, which offers members the use of several different models.

The other half of the Quincy boating equation lies east of Houghs Neck, on the protected Town River. At the mouth of the river is the full-service Bay Pointe Marina, which offers 300 slips and a fuel dock. It’s also home to the Bay Pointe Waterfront Restaurant and lounge, making this one of the Boston area’s few dock-and-dine options.

Quincy is minutes from the Boston Harbor Islands National Park. Photo Tom Richardson

Just upriver is the smaller Town River Marina, a family-owned facility with slips, mooring rentals and a launch ramp. Next to that is Captain’s Cove Marina, with slips that can accommodate deep-draft vessels up to 80 feet. Each slip has water and shore power, while the grounds feature a shaded picnic area, grills, showers, bathrooms and WiFi access. It’s also pet-friendly.

If you’re a trailer-boater, Quincy’s Houghs Neck Maritime Center on Sea Street has a free, double-lane launch ramp with excellent tie-up floats and parking for 20 rigs. The location gives boaters and paddlers direct access to the southern part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

Bay Pointe Marina welcomes boaters on the Town River. Photo Eric Brust

The BHINRA itself represents a vast, aquatic playground for local boaters. Peddocks, Lovells, Bumpkin and Grape Islands all offer camping, and have sturdy docks for the loading and unloading of passengers and their gear. Boaters can drop anchor or grab one of the free moorings then wade, swim, dinghy, or kayak to the beaches on almost all of the islands. Some of the larger islands even provide dinghies.

Approximately 25 public moorings have been installed throughout the islands, including 12 off Spectacle, that can be reserved for a fee via Dockwa. Spectacle even features a public marina with slips, plus a visitor’s center and walking trails. The views of Boston from here are spectacular, especially at dusk.

The Town River Yacht Club. Photo Eric Brust

If you’re interested in visiting historic Boston Light on Little Brewster, private-boaters can drop off and pick up passengers from the ferry dock (sea conditions permitting). The lighthouse staff will let you know if this is possible.

Aside from the Harbor Islands, Quincy boaters also have ready access to the neighboring towns of Hingham and Hull, not to mention downtown Boston. If you have a larger vessel, trips to Provincetown, as well as towns on the North Shore and South Shore, are within easy daytrip range. And if you like to fish, the harbor offers outstanding action with winter flounder, striped bass and bluefish.

So whether you want to wet a line, take a walk through history, picnic on an island beach, relax at a harborside restaurant or tour the great city of Boston, Quincy makes the perfect destination.

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