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Plum Island Beach: A walking tour

Plum Island is a spectacular place to live the beach life. It’s a destination for serene beaches, wildlife (seals and snow owls, anyone?), swimming areas and trails. And it’s only minutes from downtown Newburyport restaurant and shops.

This weekend I visited Plum Island for a walking tour with island expert Bill Sargent. As the author of two books on the topic, Bill knows a thing or two about the island and its history.

Bill showed us fossilized artifacts found on the island, including a mastodon tooth. How is it possible to find a tooth for an elephantine mammal that went extinct 10,000 years ago when the island is only 4,000 years old?

Bill explains the history in his book, “Plum Island: 4000 years on a Barrier Beach.” All I’ll say is that, Mother Nature is a powerful force. Storms, wind, waves and rain constantly chisel and shape the sand dunes on Plum Island.

Preserving the dunes

Erosion problems are nothing new to Plum Island. Piles of sand (“berms”) have been manually put on the island to reduce dune corrosion. Dune grass can be implemented and covered with up to 4 ft of sand to help stabilize the dune.

Stone jetties at the mouth of the Merrimack River protect the coastal dunes on Plum Island, prevent beach erosion, help maintain navigability in the river and ensure public safety.

North and South jetties at the mouth of the Merrimac River

Kids discover the island

During our walk, I happened to meet Jenn Bogard, the author of a children’s book, “The ABCs of Plum Island Massachusetts.

Jenn’s family has a long history on the island. She combines her background in teaching with her her love for the island in a way that’s easy for kids to enjoy. Ordering my copy shortly.

Speaking of kids, here is me with mine during this chilly February morning walk:

On the South jetty

She had fun on the beach playground and finding shells.

If you haven’t been to Plum Island, it’s time to get on it. Have breakfast at Mad Martha’s Cafe, visit The Plum Island Soap Company to shop for hand poured bars of soap, and enjoy boating, kyaking or fishing on the beach.

Walking Tour Info

For information on future walking tours, visit Plum Island Outdoors.  

The 60-minute walking tours start at Newburyport Plum Island Beach to the south jetty and back, rain or shine. Price is $10.

Jeni Lu

Jeni Lu

I'm Jeni Lu, a neighborhood guide and Realtor® at Bentley's The RE/MAX Collection. I've spent years finding the best restaurants, shopping, outdoor spots and events so you can enjoy the neighborhood. I look forward to showing you around the Boston North shore and Southern New Hampshire area. If you live in the area or you're thinking of moving here, you've come to the right place!


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