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Jamaica Pond: Jewel in the Emerald Necklace

Rowing, sailing, fishing, strolling, or just sitting

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For a spur-of-the-moment day in the country, just minutes from BU by bike or car, you can’t do better than Jamaica Pond, one of the brightest jewels in Boston’s meandering park system known as the Emerald Necklace. The pond offers enough diversions to pass a long summer day, with no crowds to battle. Stroll, row, sail, fish, picnic, or just park yourself on a bench here in the heart of Jamaica Plain, one of the nation’s most diverse communities.

First incorporated into renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace in 1892, Jamaica Pond covers about 68 acres, with a broad 1.5-mile paved path tracing its shore. In the late 1800s, many of the grand homes fronting the pond were the summer residences of wealthy Bostonians. A glacier-formed kettle pond, Jamaica Pond is the largest body of fresh water in Boston. A haven for ducks and the occasional double-crested cormorant and great blue heron, the pond is stocked with trout each year by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, which issues fishing permits.

Visitors can rent rowboats, sailboats, and kayaks at the Jamaica Pond Boat House, which is administered by Courageous Sailing, a nonprofit that offers sailing and leadership programs to Boston area youth. Rowboat rentals are $15 per hour ($10 with a Massachusetts fishing license) and kayak and sailboat rentals are $20 per hour. All boats are available Monday and Tuesday from 3 p.m. to sunset, Thursday and Friday from noon to sunset, and Saturday, Sunday, and holidays from 10 a.m. to sunset. During July and August, the boathouse is closed to the public for weekday rentals and lessons until 3:45 p.m. to accommodate educational summer youth programs. Completing a short course ($20) from any of the onsite sailing instructors is required to rent a sailboat; a complimentary hour of free sailing comes with successful fulfillment of the course. Private sailing lessons and cruises are available for $45 per hour and must be scheduled at least a week ahead. All rentals are first come, first served so calling ahead is recommended; the last rental is one hour before sunset.

Street parking is available along Perkins Street on Jamaica Pond’s west side. The park closes at 11:30 p.m. The path around the pond is for pedestrians only. Swimming, wading, and alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Dogs are welcome on leashes; owners must clean up after their pets. Visit Jamaica Pond on Facebook or call 617-522-5061 to check the status of boat rentals during inclement weather.

This story was updated May 31, 2017.

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