Home of the infamous site where the first Pilgrims landed in the new world to escape religious persecution in old Europe, Plymouth is a unique combination of old world history with an excellent and well-equipped waterfront that offers most all services any visiting boater might need. Downtown Plymouth is filled with museums, historic attractions, restaurants and many other activities geared toward the visiting tourist. There are six downtown Marine facilities and an anchorage on the east side of the harbor. Check out our full-size maps for more details on places to stay and other features of the Plymouth area.
Most Americans are familiar with the story of the pilgrims' voyage across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower, and their landing at Plymouth Rock. Today, Plymouth Rock is just one of the sites that tell the story of Plymouth. When you visit Plymouth, you can learn about more than the pilgrim voyage, you will learn about our diverse and unique community.
The Plymouth colony was founded by a group of people commonly known as the "Pilgrims", of which about 40% were English religious separatists. The core group, after separating from the Anglican Church, left England for the Netherlands; then later sailed from the Netherlands to the New World and North America. The Pilgrim colonists obtained a land patent from the London Virginia Company in 1619, but did not use it. They founded the colony in the grant area of the Plymouth Council for New England (which was still in the process of being created before they left), and received a formal land patent in 1621.
The Mayflower left Plymouth (England) for a third time on September 6, 1620 without her sister ship Speedwell, which had ultimately been deemed unseaworthy, and sailed for New England without a land patent prepared. They anchored at Provincetown Harbor on November 21, 1620 (New Style). But having landed without a patent, some settlers wanted to abandon their obligations. Therefore, the first governing document of the colony, the Mayflower Compact, was drafted and ratified by the first group of colonists aboard the ship, as it lay off-shore upon arrival. Their first landfall was near today's Provincetown where they sought firewood and fresh water. After surveying the area, the colonists settled in December on Plymouth, on the western shore of Cape Cod Bay, in southeastern Massachusetts.
Use NOAA Chart 13253.
The first thing you will want to keep in mind when planning an approach to Plymouth Harbor is that you cannot make a straight entry into the inlet toward Plymouth Beach. The entry channel for Plymouth bends far to the north near Saquish Head to avoid thethree-mile long Browns Bank that extends out past the harbor entrance.
From the Atlantic, Plymouth Light shines out into the Atlantic from Gurnet Point. As you approach the area, look for flashing green bell buoy "3," and then follow the string of lighted and unlighted buoys in to the light at Duxbury Pier north of Plymouth Beach.
Flashing green bell buoy "9" starts you on the windy passage south to the city of Plymouth. Make sure you find and honor the Plymouth Harbor Channel Light about half way down Plymouth Beach, as this announces the sharp east turn into the harbor.
Many people visit Plymouth to simply enrich themselves with the wealth of history in the town. With this in mind, the city has numerous museums, historical homes and other history-related activities for the visitor. For a detailed calendar of events, check out the "Helpful Links" section below.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) Plymouth/Kingston rail line provides service to and from Plymouth and also offers connecting service to the MBTA's extensive bus system Farther north. You can also connect through to Boston Logan International Airport, which is about 30 miles northwest of Plymouth. Detailed bus and suttle schedules can be found in the "Helpful Links" section below.