On the Island

What Can I Do on Star Island?

If you’re new to Star Island, you probably have some questions. Sure, you can look up pictures of Star Island on Facebook or Instagram, but you want to know more. You want to know what you’ll be doing.

Located about an hour’s boat ride from Portsmouth, NH, Star Island is not your typical summer vacation. And that’s exactly the way it’s meant to be. We are without traffic lights, department stores, and fast food joints. The commute you’ll be most worried about each morning is if there’s a line to get coffee on the front porch. And even if there is a wait, you’ll be waiting on the front porch of a historic hotel on an island surrounded by ocean views.

So let’s clear some things up and answer this important question: what do I do on Star Island? Here are our suggestions.


Attend Your Program

Most likely, if you’re coming to Star Island, you’re attending one of the summer programs. For the most part, these programs have activities for everyone throughout the day and into the evening. Program leaders fill out schedules on chalkboards in the lobby, often with meticulous handwriting and/or beautiful drawings. The activities listed on these chalkboards, except for orientations, are optional. So you can pick and choose which activities you want to take part in. For example, there might be a photography workshop at the same time as a history tour. Ask yourself which one you’d rather do and go for it.


Your time on Star Island will be as invovled as you make it. So attend those morning theme talks, engage with the theme speaker, and soak in all that you are learning. Bring that knowledge with you to lunch and dinner, and have a conversation over grilled cheese and tomato soup.

If you have children and are attending one of the multi-generational programs, your kids are going to be just as busy as you. With youth programming, they’ll probably be rowing over to Smuttynose Island one morning and running around Star Island to complete a scavenger hunt in the afternoon. Your kids can sit with you or new friends at each meal. You might even find yourself and your older child enjoying some independence from each other knowing that you are both nearby.

In the evening, your options might include things like a talent show in the lobby, musical performances in Newton, or card games in the Snack Bar alcove. No matter what, wholesome and entertaining activities are never far away.

Scenes from a talent show


Choose Your Own Adventure


You might be wondering, what if I don’t want to attend that photography workshop? Or, what if I want to sleep in one morning? Hey, that’s fine with us. You choose how involved you are with the program you sign up for. Besides orientations, you are free to attend as much or as little of the scheduled activities you would like. If you want to take a rowboat out one afternoon, go ahead. If you want to drink coffee on the front porch while reading a novel, do it. Not full after an ice cream social? Order your own sundae at the Snack Bar. There are so many activities you can take part in on Star Island, that you might find yourself just as busy even not attending scheduled events.

And while we promote our welcoming community atmosphere, we also recognize that many people come to Star Island to find a peaceful location to focus on projects like writing and painting. So if your mission in coming to Star is using our beautiful vistas for inspiration, please know you’re welcome. We also know, you’ll have to come in for a meal sometime, so we look forward to greeting you in our historic dining hall with a hearty meal.

Visit the Chapel


Hey, you know we have a chapel. Nice research. Our chapel is used most often by our summer programs for morning and evening services. Evening services are held by candlelight creating some of the most beautiful and soulful experiences you’ll have in a spiritual setting. Services are typically non-denominational, and are generally led by a person attending a summer program or a Minister of the Week. Ministers generally come from congregations affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association or United Church of Christ.

And what if you’re not UU or UCC? Very good question. We welcome people of all faiths, and those without, too. People talk about the spiritual aspect of Star Island, and that spiritual part can be an uppercase or lowercase “s” for you. Just like your involvement in the program activities, we leave how you renew spiritually up to you.

What About the Mainland?

We get it. You’re coming to Star Island for the first time, and you want to know what to expect. Have it in your mind that you’re swiping left on the mainland for a bit. It will be there when the boat brings you back. We strongly suggest you try to leave your mainland worries behind. Or, try to focus on activities on Star Island that will make your life better, more informed, reinvigorated on the mainland.

Your cellphone will, in our experience, work. But you’re not coming to Star Island for a typical experience, so we encourage you to use the phone as little as possible. The west end of the front porch, the side closest to the mainland, will get you the best reception if needed. There’s also wi-fi available on island, with computers to use in our business center as well. We’re hoping when you’re talking about facetime on the island, it isn’t a feature of your phone or tablet though.

In Conclusion

Simply put: Star Island looks forward to your arrival, and we want your experience to be great. You can take part in as much or as little as you want on island. Let us know if you have any questions by emailing office@starisland.org.

Have you Registered yet?

Now that you know what you can do on Star Island, click here to register.

And click here to explore a list of activities popular on Star.