Named for the beach plums that grew across its sand dunes, records of Plum Island date back to the early 17th century. It was first used as pasture land for livestock by the surrounding colonial towns, who argued for many years for control of the island. The northern tip of the island later served as the building site for a lighthouse in 1787, guiding ships up the mouth of the Merrimack River on their way to Newburyport harbor. It is now controlled largely by the townships of Newbury and Newburyport, the later of which connects to the island by the one bridge across the Plum Island River. Today instead of privateers and fishing ships, the main visitors are nature lovers, bird watchers and vacationers drawn to the unique wildlife and beautiful beaches found on Plum Island.
P.I. Outdoors & Wildlife
The nature and wildlife found on Plum Island is among the most prosperous and beautiful in New England. The island is home to incredibly vibrant natural habitats found in the area, such as Joppa Flats and Plum Island Sound. Most are protected by the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, which occupies the southern half of the island and is a bird watchers paradise. A large number of migrating species use the island as a stopover and it is a breeding and nesting ground for many shorebirds. The public beaches can be found up and down the island, with the beach at Sandy Point Sate Reservation occupying the southern tip. The Merrimack River to the north of Plum Island the ocean to the east create a plentiful fishing experience for any fan. Fishing can be done from a charter boat or directly from the beach surf. Parking is available at the State Reservation, the Refuge, and private lots around the island for varying charges.