Gooseberry Neck

About this Location

Gooseberry Island draws an eclectic mix of families, boaters, dog walkers, birders, and outdoor enthusiasts. With strong, salty sea breezes and a stunning panoramic view of Buzzards Bay, the island is a destination for anyone who loves exploring the coast. Gooseberry Island is also home to a concrete observation tower that was built during World War II as part of the coastal defense system to watch for German submarines.

The island is connected to the mainland by the short Thomas E. Pettey Memorial Causeway, which begins on East Beach Road, just past the Horseneck Point Life-Saving Station. On the west side of the island, waves crash against the rocky shoreline. On the east side, Buzzards Bay laps gently along a sandy beach. There’s an unimproved shoreline boat ramp here, which is best for kayakers, windsurfers, small skiffs, and other small watercraft because it’s very shallow and surrounded by rocks.

The wide, sandy path at Gooseberry Island runs for about a half-mile down the length of the island. We recommend allowing about an hour to explore here because there’s a lot to enjoy!

Beginning from the parking area, walk down a long, flat path that runs through the middle of the island. As you approach the towers, the path splits in two. Turn right to explore the towers up close; turn left to head toward the island’s gentler eastern shore. You can also loop around the tip of the island by walking along the beach.

Because of its location near the mouth of Buzzards Bay, Gooseberry Island is well known as a birding hotspot. It’s a thoroughfare for migratory birds as they travel up and down the Atlantic flyway. Hundreds of species have been recorded here, from warblers and swallows to geese, ducks, and seabirds. Rare piping plovers nest on the beach, so please stay away from any marked nesting areas.

One of my favorite places to walk in the South Coast area is Gooseberry Island in Westport. Gooseberry Island is the town of Westport’s southernmost point and is part of the Horseneck Beach State Reservation. Located between the east and west beach of Westport, it is an excellent place to go for a nature walk. Parking is free, and dogs are allowed- those two criteria make it a winner in my book.

The walk around the island takes about an hour depending on how much beachcombing, ball throwing, picnicking, or fishing is taking place. The beach is either very rocky or very quicksandy, but the walk is well worth the effort, and the terrain is easily traversed with a solid pair of sneakers. There is always something interesting to find along the walk, whether it be stone art left by a previous perambulator or egg cases from the area’s array of shellfish and sharks. Occasionally a ripe rotting ocean specimen can be washed up by the tide, and in times like these, I have been grateful to have a leash for my dog. There are also some roped-off areas designated as shorebird nesting sites- we steer clear of these with our furry friends as well. There is plenty of beautiful beach for everyone to share.

Notable Trails

The AllTrails website has a description and map of a hike at Gooseberry Neck.

Content from Gooseberry Island wepage and The Secret History of Gooseberry Island

Last updated May 17, 2023