The New Hampshire Coast

Picture of White Island Light - Isle of Shoals, NH

White Island Light – Isle of Shoals

At a mere 13 miles, the coastline of New Hampshire is the shortest of any state bordering an ocean. The Seacoast Region is located in the southeast corner of the New Hampshire and stretches north from Salisbury, Massachusetts to the Piscataqua River and neighboring Kittery, Maine. The Isles of Shoals, technically part of Rye, are also considered to be part of the Seacoast Region, and they collectively contribute an additional five miles of coastline. Located ten miles from the shore in the Gulf of Maine in the Atlantic Ocean, the Isles are divided between the states of Maine and New Hampshire.

Seven cities and towns comprise the New Hampshire Coast. From south to north they are:

  • Seabrook – Named after the Seabrook River, the town was settled in 1638 and incorporated in 1768. The town features two miles of coastline and Seabrook Beach, a relatively quiet spot along Route 1A. Seabrook Park features poker and simulcast greyhound and harness racing.
  • Hampton Falls – Primarily a residential community, Hampton Falls village features antique shops and is committed to preserving its rural character. At one time, the falls on the Taylor River powered a number of mills. Located off Route 1, the Marsh Lane Conservation Preserve includes a handicapped- accessible trail.
  • Picture of Hampton Beach in Hampton, NH

    Hampton Beach in Hampton, NH

    Hampton – Known primarily for Hampton Beach located on Route 1A, the town was incorporated in 1638 and named for Hampton, England. While the railroads and trolley lines that made the resort town a key attraction in the mid- to late-19th century are long gone, Hampton remains a popular resort with lots of shops and amusements. Now in its third century of operation, the Hampton Beach Casino Ball Room features concerts with nationally known entertainers. Hampton State Park offers RV camping with full-hook ups.
  • North Hampton – Originally part of Hampton, North Hampton was granted its own township in 1742. Located on a seaside promontory, the Little Boar’s Head area was once a fashionable summer resort. Fine examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture can be found here. North Hampton State Beach is a quieter, two-acre alternative to Hampton Beach also located along 1A.
  • Rye – Rye originally was part of Sandy Beach an area of Portsmouth. Once a New Castle parish, the town was incorporated as Rye in 1726 and named after the borough of Rye, England. Rye’s eight miles of coastline are filled with beaches and feature Rye Harbor and Odiorne State Park.With lovely views of the Atlantic Ocean, Rye Harbor State Park is a great spot for fishing and picnicking. Odiorne State Park is located on the Atlantic Ocean along the least developed stretch of the Rye coastline. Open year-round, the park features a paved bicycle path, picnic tables, a boat launch and nature walks. Cross-country skiing is a popular winter activity. Fort Dearborn is a reminder of Odiorne Point’s importance during World War II when the site was used as protection for Portsmouth Harbor and the Naval Shipyard. The fort was sold to the state for $91,000 in 1961 and is now part of the state park.Jenness Beach on Route 1A and Wallis Beach on Route 1 are Rye’s state beaches, and Foss Beach, Rye Beach and Rye North Beach are all located along Route 1A.
  • New Castle – New Castle is home to a number of historic sites, most notably Fort Constitution, which overlooks both the Atlantic Ocean and the Piscataqua River. Several fortifications were built at the site to protect Portsmouth beginning in 1632. The fort was expanded during the War of 1812, and it was rebuilt as a granite fortress during the Civil War. The fort is now open to the public.Another key New Castle attraction is Wentworth by the Sea Hotel & Spa. Restored to its former glory as one of New Hampshire’s grand hotels, it was originally built in 1874 as the Wentworth Hotel. This Victorian treasure was the site of peace talks that ended the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.Scenic Sandy Beach is located on Route 1A. The beach abuts US Coast Guard station is at one end, and New England Castle Common, a large park, at the other.
  • PortsmouthPortsmouth is home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and is well known for its fine dining, casual outdoor cafes, boutiques, galleries and jazz clubs. There are numerous beaches both in New Hampshire and Maine that are close to Portsmouth.
    Picture of Portsmouth Harbor Light

    Portsmouth Harbor Light

Interesting New Hampshire Coastal Facts

  • There are five lighthouses on the New Hampshire Coast.
  • Scotty Lago, 2010 Olympic bronze medallist in snowboarding, hails from Seabrook.
  • Hampton Falls features one of the oldest working apple orchards in the country.
  • Goody Cole of Hampton was the only NH woman convicted of with craft.
  • Poet Ogden Nashua was a resident of North Hampton and is buried there.
  • Rye was the site of the first NH settlement.
  • New Castle is the smallest town in New Hampshire and the only one located completely on islands. The town is also the wealthiest in the state in terms of median per capita income.

Getting to the New Hampshire Coast

The scenic NH coast is located on Routes 1 and 1A. I-95 is a major point of access from Massachusetts and Maine. Portsmouth is a hub for bus routes, transportation, the Amtrak Downeaster, and Portsmouth International Airport at Pease.

New Hampshire Coastal Weather

Temperatures along the coast are typically milder in the winter and cooler in the summer than they are inland. Daytime temperatures generally range in the high-70s to low-80s in the summer months and to the mid- to high-30s in the winter months.

Photo credits: The picture of Hampton Beach is from the Wikimedia Commons.. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License. The picture of Portsmouth Harbor Light was taken by Ross Tracy and is is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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