Star Island is many things to many people: A source of spiritual renewal, home to enriching experiences, filled with educational programming — and a great place for some good ol’ summer fun.
Make the most of your island experience, whether as a week-long guest or just stopping by for the day, with fun activities for the whole family. Rent a rowboat and paddle to a neighboring island or around the harbor, then come back ashore for an exciting game of tennis or boccie ball. Take a refreshing plunge off the float and follow it up with a relaxing massage.
There’s lots to do on Star Island. Just ask the friendly staff at the front desk of the Oceanic for information and reservations.
Row around Gosport Harbor in one of Star Island’s classic wooden rowboats. Each boat comfortably sits three adults, or one adult and 3-4 youth. Life jackets are required and are available at the boathouse at the end of pier. Lifeguards on the dock will assist with sending you off on an afternoon outing and tying up when docking. Many people enjoy rowing to Smuttynose Island across the harbor, or floating in between the moored sailboats and motor yachts. Rowboats are permitted to travel only within Gosport Harbor and may be unavailable during unsafe sea conditions.
Rowboat reservations may be made at the Oceanic Hotel’s front desk and may be rented for $5 per hour.
Each week guests and staff play each other in an all-island softball game. People of all ages and skill populate the batting order, while others cheer from the front porch and along the foul lines. Guests often volunteer to announce the games or play music during inning changes. When softball is on the schedule, everyone’s attention is focused on the action taking place on the front lawn.
Star Island softball has several unique qualities like a position to play in the graveyard which takes over a portion of outfield. There are no strikes, ever. And a dirt road marks the boundary between infield and outfield.
Softball equipment is located underneath the front porch to the right of the front porch steps. Anyone is welcome to practice with the equipment and low-flight softballs.
Star Island’s charismatic courts are available to anyone for a game of tennis. Many of the week-long family programs organize a tennis tournament. Friends and family gather on the board walk in front of Cottage B to sit in rocking chairs and cheer on players.
Tennis racquets and balls can be found in the sports closet on the back porch of the Oceanic Hotel. The Front Desk can also show you where to find equipment. If you are serious about tennis, we suggest bringing your own equipment.
Frisbee And Frisbee Golf
The expansive front lawn provides ample space for an afternoon of frisbee. Visit the sports closet off the back porch of the Oceanic Hotel for discs, or visit the Front Desk for assistance. Please be mindful of other guests while playing.
Star Island’s beautiful terrain and structures create challenging obstacles for individuals and teams for a round of frisbee golf. Teams use landmarks as goals such as the flag pole, a wall, or rock outcropping.
The perimeter road’s varying terrain provides a moderately challenging course for runners. Whether you take an early morning jog as the sun rises, or an afternoon run through front lawn games, the perimeter road engages you beyond just the physical. Terrain can be rocky, and sometimes muddy in parts during June, so please only run with proper gear and precaution.
How long is the perimeter road?
- Perimeter Rd: 2590 feet (.49 miles)
- w/ summer house path: 2720 feet (.51 miles)
- w/ pier: 3218 feet (.59 miles)
- w/ both: 3348 feet (.63 miles)
The Isles of Shoals were once known for the tremendous schools of fish, especially cod, that drew many sailors to the region and supported Gosport Village. While the fish stocks are not what they used to be, fishing on Star Island is still an option. Bring your own saltwater fishing gear, or visit the Marine Lab during open hours for spare rods and tackle. We encourage guests to fish off the pier when boat traffic allows.
The State of New Hampshire requires anglers to have a saltwater fishing license, which can be purchased online. Click here for more information.
Fish commonly caught in Gosport Harbor include bluefish, mackerel, flounder, and cod. Guests are encouraged to catch and release, or provide a fish or two to the Marine Lab for others to view.
The salty Atlantic Ocean provides brisk water for swimming. Anyone is welcome to dip their toes in the water along the pier between the dock and the shore. Lifeguards are on duty when swimming is allowed, which is generally 9 am to 5 pm for most of the summer, and with shorter hours in September (when the water is often rather cold). Swimming on Star Island also includes Polar Bear Dips before breakfast for those brave souls.
Vaughn Cottage Museum & Library
Guests are welcomed and encouraged to explore the Vaughn Cottage Museum and Library. Exhibits in the museum focus on life at the Isles of Shoals from early history to the Grand Hotel Era and up to the modern use as a religious and educational retreat center. Artifacts often displayed include the pottery and works of Celia Thaxter, photographs of the islands throughout time, maps, and ephemera from the original Oceanic Hotel. The library contains a small collection of books both historical and contemporary, and provides a quiet space for people to relax.
Open 12-3 pm every day during the summer.
For the most up to date information on Vaughn Cottage please visit our Facebook page!
Check out our online exhibits page and museum blog for lots of great archived information about Vaughn Cottage.
Rutledge Marine Laboratory
The Rutledge Marine Laboratory provides a home for a portly spider crab (Libinia emarginata), yellow sea slug (Cadlina laevis), and a school of Mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus). There are also the usual visitors, of course, including blue mussels (Mytilus edulis), green crabs (Carcinus maenas), frilled sea anenomes (Metridium senile), rock crabs (Cancer irroratus), jonah’s crabs (Cancer borealis), northern sea stars (Asterias spp.), hermit crabs (Pagurus spp.) and plenty of barnacles (Semibalanus balanoides) and periwinikles (Littorina spp.).
The lab works with other organizations like the Blue Ocean Society, the Seacoast Science Center and the Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island to enlarge its collection and explore educational opportunities for the summer. For example, the lab recently recreated several traditional marine science experiments including testing the photosensitivity and behavior of hermit crabs, examining the composition of the benthic community at the Isles of Shoals utilizing fouling plates, and implementing several transect surveys to measure the diversity of intertidal zone ecosystems on Star Island.
The lab offers science education experiences for all ages from the unique perspective of an island community that looks reflectively and critically at our culture and the future it is choosing. As a part of this mission and in line with Star Island’s sustainability initiative, the lab will host several discussions on sustainable living throughout the summer.
Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day during the summer.
Guests can enjoy a massage from a professional massage therapist during their stay on Star. Interested guests may request a 1-hour session through the front desk. The massage fee can be added to individual room & board bills.
A large portion of the massage program proceeds go directly to Star Island.
If you are a licensed New Hampshire massage therapist and would like to participate in the program, please email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Massages cost $80 for an hour. Reservations are made at front desk.
Located on the first floor of Cottage D, the Business Center provides space for people who need to connect with the mainland via computer. Star Island provides a few computers for use, and cords or wireless access for those who brought their own laptop. Printing is also available, but we ask people to be mindful of our environment and only print if absolutely necessary.
Held generally on Wednesday nights throughout June, July and August (with varying days in September), Lobster Night is a favorite tradition of many longtime guests. Order your ticket for this special meal at the Front Desk, and then show up for dinner at 6:15 PM. Many guests wear lobster themed clothing for the meal, but it will taste the same even if you’re not donning a claw shaped hat.