Plum Island Parking Details and Tips for Visitors and Residents

By Caitlin Dowling, Newburyport.com Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
Plum Island Parking, Center Lot, Newbury, MA

A day trip to the island offers great eats, adventures and beaches—but before you hop in the car it’s important to learn the details on Plum Island parking. Because the island is made up of two municipalities, a national wildlife refuge and a state reservation, knowing the rules and choosing the best place to park your wheels can feel overwhelming. Street parking is off-limits for non-residents, so lots are the way to go—and there are a variety of options depending on how and where you plan on spending your day.

Plum Island Point Parking Lot:

This lot is located at the very end of Northern Blvd, holds 121 cars and directly next to the beach playground and public restrooms. The address is 278 Northern Boulevard, Newburyport, MA.  It’s the perfect spot to park if you’re planning on hitting North Point Beach or visiting the Plum Island Light House. The parking cost for non-residents and Newburyport residents without a North Point lot sticker is $15 on weekdays and $20 on holidays and weekends. Because this Plum Island parking lot is technically located in Newburyport, those residents score a discount. But it’s important to note that Newburyport residents MUST get a free parking sticker at the Harbor Master Office, 27 Rear Water Street, in order to be eligible for the discount. Parking for residents with stickers is $10 on weekdays and $12 on holidays and weekends.

If you happen to show up at the Plum Island North Point lot when there isn’t a parking attendant it’s ok to park, but this doesn’t mean you get in for free. You will most likely find an envelope on your windshield when you get back with a bill you can pay choose to pay when exiting or mail in later.

Plum Island Center Parking Lots: 

Plum Island parking options for the center of the island are the town of Newbury’s territory.  The privately owned lots located directly across the street from the main beach are the ideal spot for visitors hoping to walk to restaurants, the local convenience store, and an ice cream shops. Pricing for these private lots is set by owners and varies depending on weekdays vs. weekends with an average cost of $20 per day. Free parking with a three hour limit is available along Sunset Drive but make sure to carefully read signs and adhere to Town of Newbury guidelines. Newbury residents with a valid permit can park in the resident spaces at the Plum Island Center parking lot, along Northern Blvd on the east/beach side of the street and the Town Ramp on High Road at the Parker River Bridge. Newbury residents can apply to purchase a parking permit for $25 per year, per vehicle online or in person by completing the application. Proof of residency is required. Make sure you don’t park even briefly in the beach front Plum Island center parking unless you have a valid Newbury parking sticker. You will get ticketed or towed. Portable restrooms are located on the edge of the beach front parking lot.

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Parking:

The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge gate house serves as the entrance for the Refuge is the national refuge and for Sandy Point State Reservation at the very far southern point of Plum Island. The refuge boasts a total of seven parking lots with an additional bonus lot at Sandy Point. Restrooms are located at lots 1 and 4 and portable restrooms are available for use at other lots. The beach is accessible from the following lots: 1,2,3,6 and 7 but some lots are closed at certain points to protect the Piping Plovers.

To park on the refuge costs $5 per vehicle, per day. Plan on visiting often? Purchase an annual pass for $20 which can be done right at the entry guard shack when an attendant is on duty or at the refugee headquarters. If you prefer to visit the refuge on a bike or by foot, there is a daily cost of $2 per walker or biker at the refuge entrance.

Sandy Point State Park Parking:

Sandy Point State Reservation is a state park but you still need to pay to get on the reservation. Parking is the same $5 day, with no additional charge to access the Sandy Point lot. Be warned—this beach is extremely popular, so if you are planning to visit during peak months you need to get there early. Cars often form a line to get in, with a one in/one out policy.

Special Events:

During large events such as Plumfest, there is an additional option for Plum Island Parking. The Plum Island Airport opens up its airfield as an additional option. While the airport is slightly farther from the center of Plum Island, shuttle services make it easy.