The scattered archipelago off the coast of Branford is named after the thimbleberry, a cousin to the raspberry that grows wild on the islands. They could just as well be named for their diminutive size, however; in addition to 24 populated islands, literally hundreds of pink granite outcroppings poke their peaks out of the waves.
The Thimble Islands are home to a variety of critters, including a winter population of seals—and a summer influx of rich people from New York , who have built elaborate mansions, tiny cottages, and even little gazebos on the rocks.
In addition to being unlike anything else on the Connecticut  (or for that matter New England) coast, the Thimble Islands have spawned dozens of legends, such as an enduring myth that the pirate Captain Kidd buried treasure on so-called Money Island.
The best way to take in the Thimble Islands is at sea level, from the vantage of your very own sea kayak. Owner Christopher Hauge leads expeditions out to the Thimbles with Connecticut Coastal Kayaking (Stony Creek, 860/391-3837, www.ctcoastalkayaking.com , May–Oct., $80–100/2.5 hour tour), giving impromptu seminars on sealife and history with each stroke of the paddle.
If you’d rather let someone else do the paddling, sign up for a cruise with “Captain Mike,” who grew up among the Thimbles and now leads tours aboard the Sea Mist II (Thimble Island Rd., Stony Creek, May–Oct., $10 adults, $9 seniors, $5 children under 12).