Explore Appledore Island Walking Tour

Travel out to Appledore on the University of New Hampshire's research vessel, the R/V Gulf Challenger, with UNH Marine Docent tour guides. Investigate the intriguing intertidal creatures and zooplankton collected from the ocean at informal science stations prior to departure.

On Appledore, explore the natural history of the island with the Docents. Look down to magnificent rock formations of eons past and up to a sky filled with birds that live on the island today. Learn about the plants that withstood the salty sea air to provide colonial settlers with remedies and today supply nutrition for the long voyages of migrating birds.

Discover the important role the Shoals played in the fishing economy of the 17th century. Find out about the amazing resort hotels on the Shoals in the 19th century and the people who flocked to the Isles for the healthy sea air. Visit the recreated garden of famous poet and essayist Celia Thaxter, who once lived on Appledore, and learn of her family's life on the Shoals.

Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy while looking from the Isles to the coast or gazing at the long line of the horizon where the sea meets the sky. Taking an Appledore Island Walking Tour with the Docents is a voyage you'll never forget!


Open to members of the public on a first come, first served basis

Who: Adults & youth, minimum of 10 years of age and older and must be accompanied by an adult

Cost: $65 for adults (ages 18+), and $40 for youth (minimum age of 10 through 17)

Click on the cruise date below to register. 


View of horizon with wood building and foliage in the foreground
sign up for cruise notifications

Sold out cruises:

Each cruise has a waiting list. The system will automatically invite the first person on the waiting list to register when a space is available. You will have 12 hours to  register before the system invites the next person on the list, and so on.

Departure Location: UNH Pier next to the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Fort Point in New Castle, NH (Address: 29 Wentworth Rd, New Castle, NH)

8:00-8:30 a.m. Mandatory check-in and orientation at the dock
9:00 a.m. Departure
3:00 p.m. Return to the dock

Parking: Parking at the UNH Pier is limited, so please attempt to carpool if you are cruising with a family or large group. Parking is located in front of the entrance to Fort Constitution, along the left side of the access road to the U.S. Coast Guard Station. 

Please Note

  • Cruise guests must remain with Marine Docent tour guides at all times while on Appledore Island. Independent exploring is not permitted.
  • All cruise guests must be able to walk several miles. Terrain of the island requires moderate hiking exertion over uneven ground. 
  • Dress for variable New England weather conditions! Please review the 'What To Bring' information below for more details and recommendations.

Important Information

Attire: To ensure your comfort on the tour, plan to dress for variable weather and to be exposed to the elements. Shade is limited during the cruise and island tour. Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunblock, and warm outer layer (sweater, light jacket, etc.). All passengers should wear comfortable, sturdy shoes (close-toed footwear is preferred) for walking/hiking and standing on the dock and boat deck.

Lunch: Bring a brown-bag lunch to enjoy at midday on Appledore Island. There is NOT a snack bar on the vessel or food available to purchase on the island. We recommend bringing additional light snacks and a refillable water bottle. Shoals Marine Laboratory has a water bottle filling station. It is important to stay hydrated while exploring the island!

Required Waivers: Each passenger is required to have a signed wavier in order to participate. Bring the signed waiver with you on the day of your Appledore Island Walking Tour. Click here to download the required waivers.

Expectations & Attitude: Tours are best experienced with an attitude for adventure and learning, sure to ignite your curiosity and provide an unforgettable experience!


  • All cruise guests must be able to walk several miles. Terrain of the island requires moderate hiking exertion over uneven ground.
  • Cruise guests must remain with Marine Docent tour guides at all times while on Appledore Island. Independent exploring is not permitted.

Island Environment: Appledore Island is a rugged landscape with uneven, slightly steep and rocky paths. Access on/off the island is via a floating dock, a steep ramp, two sets stairs, and ledge. Participants must be in good physical condition and should be prepared to spend a majority of the day walking (approximately 1-2 miles). Toilet facilities are available on Appledore Island.

About the Vessel: This program is approximately six hours in duration with transportation out to Appledore Island taking place aboard UNH's research vessel Gulf Challenger. This is a working research vessel (NOT a standard passenger vessel), which provides insight on how marine research is conducted and therefore does not provide amenities one might find on a passenger vessel. Participants must be prepared to stand for 45-60 minutes each way (out to and returning from Appledore Island) and will have limited protection from sun, rain, or spray. There is limited seating available below deck and it is only accessible via a steep set of stairs. Toilet facilities on the vessel are accessed by using a steep set of stairs. Participants are encouraged to use the toilet facilities located at the Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex before departure.

About the UNH Pier: The R/V Gulf Challenger departs from UNH's Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex. This is a working research pier. Access to the vessel is via a steep floating ramp. The slope of the ramp varies with the tide.

Restrooms: There are toilet facilities at the UNH Pier facility, aboard the R/V Gulf Challenger, and on Appledore Island at the Shoals Marine Laboratory.

Seasickness: Passengers will transit six miles into the Gulf of Maine en route to Appledore Island. Sea conditions vary depending on wind and tidal action in the Gulf of Maine. If you or a member of your group have concerns about seasickness, please consult a medical professional to learn more about seasickness preventatives (Dramamine, Bonine, wristbands/pressure cuffs, ginger snacks or beverages, etc.).

Special Accommodations: Participants requiring special accommodations, such as the use of an American Sign Language interpreter or assistive listening device, should contact Dari Christenson at dari.christenson@unh.edu at least two weeks prior to cruise date

More information about Safety at Shoals

  • Each passenger is required to have a signed wavier in order to participate.
  • Bring the signed waiver with you on the day of your Appledore Island Walking Tour.
  • Docents will have extra blank waivers to sign at the dock as well.

Click here to download the required waivers

If participants cancel their own reservation, you will receive the following refund: 

  • 14 days or more prior to cruise date - 100% refund
  • Less than 14 days prior to cruise date - 0% refund

Registrant must log into the reservation system and cancel your reservation or you may also call Michelle Lemos at (603) 862-6702.

Cruises will take place rain or shine and will only rarely get canceled due to dangerous marine/sea conditions, severe weather, or inadequate reservations. Cancellations by the Gulf Challenger Captain are usually decided by noon the day before the cruise in case of severe weather or dangerous sea conditions. Registrants will be notified via e-mail or phone call as soon as possible - generally the day before the cruise or at the latest or early in the morning the day of the cruise at the latest. If your cruise is canceled due to inclement weather, dangerous sea conditions, or inadequate reservations, you will receive a full refund.



Yankee Magazine Cover

Read the Yankee Magazine article, The Mysterious Siren Call of Appledore Island 


Celia Thaxter's Garden

You can also visit Appledore Island with Celia Thaxter's Garden Tours. These tours are managed by the Shoals Marine Laboratory and led by our UNH Marine Docents.