A ferry carrying tourists to visit New York's iconic Statue of Liberty made a hard landing on Tuesday, lightly injuring three passengers, the coastguard said.

The boat, carrying 497 passengers and nine crew members, made "a hard landing" upon arrival at Liberty Island, coastguard spokesman Charles Rowe told AFP.

He said three people had reported "minor injuries, but all the passengers were able to leave the vessel under their own power."

It was not yet known what caused the accident, which also caused minor damage to the pier and the ferry, the Miss New Jersey.

The Statue of Liberty, one of New York's most-visited attractions, re-opened on July 4 after eight months, following damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.