All nine islands have a distinct history and character. Below is some information about several of the islands. On our expertly narrated island tour, we will tell you all about each of these nine islands in depth!
Join us for a relaxing sunset cruise to the beautiful Isles of Shoals. We offer a complete narrated tour of all nine islands focusing on both current day activities and history of the area. Learn about buried treasure, Shoals Marine Lab, the ghost of Smuttynose and White Island Lighthouse. View the abundant wildlife that make their home on the islands. The Island tour is followed by a leisurely cruise to Hampton Beach for a viewing of the spectacular fireworks display. You’ll have the best view on the beach!
2022 Islands and Fireworks Trip
July 4th 7:00 PM
Duck Island is the northernmost of the nine island group. Duck is simply an uninhabited rock pile. In the 1950’s and 60’s Duck was used as a bombing target practice range. Bombers stationed at nearby Pease Air Force Base would fly over the island and drop small smoke bombs. The purpose of the bombings was to check the bomb release mechanisms of the planes and also for the aircrew to check the accuracy of their bomb sights. The bombing was discontinued some 20 years ago, and Duck Island is making an excellent recovery as a wildlife nesting area.
Appledore Island is the largest of the nine, approximately 95 acres in area. Ninety five percent of the island is owned by the Star Island corporation, which in turn leases it to the Shoals Marine Laboratory. Shoals Lab is a highly regarded research and educational institute operated jointly by the University of New Hampshire and Cornell University. At the turn of the 20th century Appledore was home to one of the largest resorts in New England. Well known 19th century literary figure Celia Thaxter, daughter of the hotel’s owner entertained guests on the island, and her presence in turn attracted many other famous people of the time.
Smuttynose has much lore and legend of the islands associated with it, including a ghost story, a murder story, and a buried treasure story. The ghost story and the buried treasure story both have to do with Blackbeard the pirate, who was rumored to have visited the islands in his travels. The murder story is about Louis Wagner, who rowed his dory ten miles out to the islands from Portsmouth. His subsequent failed robbery and murder of two women are still a topic of conversation today, both locally, and nationally in books and movies.
Cedar Island is privately owned by a family of fisherman who spend the summer months catching lobsters. Cedar is also distinct in that it is the southernmost island in the state of Maine.
Star is the second largest of the nine, approximately 46 acres in area. It is, however, the busiest island. Star is home to the Star Island Conference Center which offers non-denominational summer religious conferences. These conferences are quite popular and are usually filled from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Lunging was the first island to be settled at the Isles of Shoals. In 1614 the London Trading Company moved a trading post to Lunging from their colony in Jamestown, Virginia. This trading post served as a base of operations for the shipment of dried fish to Europe. Today Lunging is owned by a Massachusetts family who spend the summer on the island.
White is home to one of the most picturesque lighthouses on the New England coast. This light was completed in 1865 and stands an elevation of 82 feet above sea level. Until 1986, this lighthouse was manned by several coast guard lighthouse keepers. However, in 1986 the lighthouse was completely automated and the keepers were no longer needed. The light, however, after years of abuse by the New England winters, with waves sometimes crashing clear over it, has begun to crack at it’s base. For info on the effort to save the lighthouse: www.lighthousekids.com