Rye is a beautiful, seaside bedroom community stretching between the Hamptons and Portsmouth, perhaps best known for its sandy beaches and for Rye Harbor, a lovely, protected basin for recreational and commercial fishing boats, the twice-daily whale-watching cruises and ferries to the Isles of Shoals.  The harbor itself is locally popular for its lobster rolls, probably the best on the New Hampshire Seacoast, made daily with lobsters freshly harvested by Rye Harbor-based lobster fishermen.

Getting to Rye

If arriving by sea:  Pick up the Rye Harbor (RH) entrance buoy (Morse A buoy) on approach, then follow the green buoys inside the protected breakwaters.

If arriving by land.  From Manchester and points North and West, exit Route 101 then bear right in Stratham onto Atlantic Avenue (Route 111 east) and follow it to the end.  Turn left onto Ocean Boulevard, and follow it, with the North Atlantic visible to the right, to Rye Harbor, 3.5 miles ahead.   From Boston, exit onto Route 101 East toward Hampton Beach, take the spur to the end, then turn left on Ocean Boulevard.

Rye Harbor is six miles from downtown Portsmouth and eight miles along Ocean Boulevard from the Hampton Beach Bandshell at the center of the Hampton Beach State Park. The GPS address, 1730 Ocean Blvd, will get you close.

In short, Rye Harbor is a friendly place to charter a sailboat, or a “six-pack” fishing boat (licensed for six passengers), or to take a scheduled, four- to five-hour whale-watch cruise or a six-mile ferry ride to Star Island, or to come for lunch or dinner of clam chowder and fresh lobster rolls made from locally harvested lobster while watching the sailboats and commercial and recreational fishing boats come and go. 

There is an 80-car parking lot for visitors, which fills up occasionally on busy summer and holiday weekends, outside winter and summer storage for trailered boats, and a fine launch ramp.

All-day vehicle parking is $5.  Overnight vehicle parking is $10 per night and $5 per day. 

The boat-launch and daytime trailer parking fee is $10.

Rye harbor sits in roughly the middle of Rye, New Hampshire’s eight-mile coastline, bookended between two State of New Hampshire beaches, and immediately adjacent to Rye Harbor State Park.

One of the most picturesque locations along New Hampshire’s 18-mile coastline, Rye Harbor is known, not just by mariners, but also as a lunch and dinner venue for local residents and visitors who come by land for fresh lobster rolls and chowders purveyed by the Rye Harborside snack bar and the Rye Harbor Lobster Pound.  Rye Harbor was first visited by Samuel de Champlain in 1603, and is the setting for The Last Run, Stephen Clarkson’s fine novel about rum-running between Canada and New England in the 1920s.

Rye Harbor is, of course, also the home port for the M/V Granite State, a 100-passenger, 65-foot, naturalist-led Whale Watching excursion boat, the 49-passenger M/V Uncle Oscar that makes twice daily, five-mile ferry runs to the Isles of Shoals, and the 36-foot sailing vessel, “Persistence”, operated by Captain Rick Philbrick, offering half-day, full-day, overnight and multi-day charters, as well as group and individual sailing lessons.  

Editors’ Note: Visitors who have the time, are encouraged not to miss an opportunity to visit Star Island (pictured on Page 3) on the Uncle Oscar (or the Persistence).  Depart on the Uncle Oscar in the morning and return in the afternoon, or make a quick, morning or afternoon turn-around with a one-hour stay on the island, or charter the Persistence for a half-day sail.   Both the Star Island ferry and the Whale Watch cruises do sell out, so make your reservations early.)

Rye Harbor also hosts a half-dozen “six-pack” fishing charter boats (listed below), licensed by the US Coast Guard to carry up to six passengers on blue-water fishing excursions.  And, last but not least, Rye Harbor is also the home of Wicked Tuna star Tyler McLaughlin’s 35-foot F/V Pin Wheel.  

Where to Eat

Rye Harborside, next to the Harbor office (the editors’ choice, for its waterside location, the freshness of its lobster products, and its prices), might be the lesser-known of the two, but serves fresh (and less expensive) lobster rolls, prepared with obvious care with locally harvested lobster, as well as hot dogs, sandwiches, very good clam chowder, ice cream bars, and soft drinks, for consumption at its own water’s- edge picnic tables.

Rye Lobster Pound, perhaps the better known of the two “lobster shacks”, because of its aggressive marketing and its hard-to-miss location on the main access road, serves repackaged, commercial-grade “fluffy chowder“, other soups, as well as more expensive lobster rolls made with frozen lobster imported from Canada.

Must Do recommendations from the VNH editors

You absolutely, positively HAVE to go to Petey’s, at 1323 Ocean Boulevard, near Wallis Sands Beach. Petey's owners harvest their own lobsters, and their legendary clam chowder is smooth and creamy, and rich with clams (not just potatoes).

Fishing Charters

Six Pack Charter Operators

Adam Baker

F/V  Valhalla  


(603) 686-6606

Bob Weathersby


(603) 394-5807



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Butch Tuttle   



Ted Alex 

F/V Alexandra


(603) 235-3960

Peter Aikens 



Patrick Dennehy


(603) 235-3960


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