Coming to Star Island is like coming to an entirely self-sufficient town that is surrounded by the ocean. There are three separate water systems on the island—drinking water, cistern water for washing, and sea water for sanitary use. The island has its own septic treatment plant, one of the few capable of handling salt water, and a reverse osmosis water purification system for converting sea water to drinking water. The island is staffed by a crew of 90 young adults, mostly college students, termed “Pelicans”, who live on Star Island for the summer and do everything from transporting luggage to washing dishes, painting buildings, weeding, and making beds.
Transportation to Star Island is handled by the steamship-replica Thomas Laighton. On Star Island there are multiple hotel buildings, the largest of which is the Oceanic Hotel. Others are named for YPRU (Young People’s Religious Union), James Caswell, and Leland Baker. There is a marine lab, a floating dock often used by swimmers, two tennis courts, two playgrounds,the “Kiddie Barn” where childcare services are given, an old stone chapel, a scenic gazebo termed the Summerhouse, Vaughn Cottage where the historical records are kept, and beautiful scenery all around. The sunsets are breathtaking; those viewed from the Summerhouse and from the Oceanic’s front porch are famous.
The Star Island conference center is owned and operated by the Star Island Corporation, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 membership organization incorporated in the state of Massachusetts. The corporation also is charged with preserving the Isles of Shoals for future generations. It is affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and The United Church of Christ.