Many of these nine small, rocky islands (eight at high tide) retain earthy names—Hog and Smuttynose to cite but two—given them by 17th-century fishermen. A history of piracy, murder, and ghosts surrounds the archipelago, long populated by an independent lot who, according to one writer, hadn't the sense to winter on the mainland. Celia Thaxter, a native islander, romanticized these islands with her poetry in Among the Isles of Shoals (1873). In the late 19th
century, Appledore Island became an offshore retreat for Thaxter's coterie of writers, musicians, and artists. Star Island contains a small museum, the Rutledge Marine Lab, with interactive family exhibits. From May to late October you can take a narrated history cruise of the Isles of Shoals, a day trip to Star Island, or a walking tour of Star Island with Isles of Shoals Steamship Company.