Following our recent article on the Hamptons, BARNES New York takes you this week to Fire Island, located in Long Island, New York. This small, car-banned island offers white sandy beaches, a friendly, family-friendly atmosphere, but also a lively atmosphere, a historic haven for the LGBT community, just a few hours from the ongoing bustle of Manhattan. Fire Island is the perfect escape from the bustle of the city for a getaway…
Fire Island is a long strip of land that runs along southern Long Island. Located 96 km from Manhattan, it is a popular resting destination for New Yorkers who love the sun and the sand. The 17 “beach communities” that make up Fire Island range from crowded beaches (Ocean Beach, Cherry Grove) to unspoiled beaches (Saltaire, where an island population discourages foreigners). Cars are not permitted on the island; residents must get around on foot, by bike, or by boat …
During the year, Fire Island has just over 300 residents… During the summer, that number increases to 20,000. Since its main attraction is the pristine white beach, the season for Fire Island begins in May during Memorial Day weekend and ends on Labor Day, early September. The main activities on the island consist of picnics, boat tours, surfing, fishing, hiking, and bird watching… The area also hosts a raucous party culture, amplified by Rocket Fuel cocktails, a local specialty. ..
If you want to stay on the island, you have a choice of several rental houses and a few hotels. BARNES recommends that you stay in areas like The Grove, and Ocean Beach. Find below the BARNES New York guide to make the most of your stay on Fire Island.
How do I get to Fire Island?
If you are traveling from Manhattan to Fire Island, allow 1.5 to 2 hours for the trip. Most visitors access the island via train (LIRR) and ferry. The LIRR departs from Penn Station. Depending on where you want to go on the island, you can stop at different ferry departure locations: Bay Shore, Sayville, or Patchogue. From there you will have to walk or take a car to get to the ferry. Alternatively, you can drive to Bay Shore, Sayville, or Patchogue and take the ferry from there.
From Bay Shore, you’ll take Fire Island Ferries to popular central Fire Island destinations such as Ocean Beach, Kismet, and Ocean Bay Park (round trip for $ 19 for adults). If you are going to Sayville, take the Sayville ferry to Fire Island Pines, Cherry Grove, and Sailors Haven ($ 16). The Davis Park Ferry in Patchogue will take you to Watch Hill and Davis Park ($ 17).
The island of Fire Island is famous for not accommodating a car (which makes the small villages even more charming and pleasant). However, both ends of the island have parking facilities for visitors to use. You can park at the Fire Island Lighthouse to the west or to the east at the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness.
Keep in mind that although the island is 250m wide, it is 32km long! This means that if you plan on keeping yourself at one end of the island and want to walk to the Grove, it can take almost half a day. Once the car is parked, you can walk, take a bicycle or a water taxi to get to your destination. Water taxis cost between $ 10 and $ 30, and stop about once an hour in each of Fire Island’s 17 communities.
Fire Island Pines
Fire Island Pines, or “The Pines,” represents the community east of The Grove. Since the mid-20th century, The Pines has welcomed owners and tenants, as well as a large community of boaters. Like everywhere on Fire Island, the best activities can be found on the waterfront. Gay bars at The Pines are well known on the island: Sip N Twirl, Blue Whale, and Pavilion.
Cherry Grove, or “The Grove”, represents the oldest and most well-known LGBTQ community on Fire Island. Before the modern gay rights movement began in the late 1960s, The Grove was home to an open and proud community of gay residents. Its “Community House” and theater are today considered national historic monuments.
The Grove’s most popular attractions are obviously sunbathing and other beach activities. Here you will find bars such as Cherry’s On The Bay and the Ice Palace Night Club where you can party day and night. For spectacular views and dining, visit The Sandcastle at The Ocean, one of the best restaurants on the island. Only steps from Cherry Grove is Sunken Forest, a natural wonder in Sailors Haven Bay. This rare grove grows from seawater and is home to rare wildlife species …
Certainly the most popular destination on Fire Island is Ocean Beach. On an island as residential as it is lightly commercial, Ocean Beach remains the somewhat lively downtown of the island … In addition to a very popular beach, Ocean Beach is full of restaurants, bars, shops, and galleries to visit when you have need a break from the beach. Must-sees in the area are Scoops Ice Cream Shop, Rachel’s Bakery, and Houser’s Bar. For dinner, Hideaway Restaurant is known for its famous lobster risotto. In addition to local house rentals, the Palms Hotel Fire Island offers upscale accommodation. Ocean Drive is also the island’s most family-friendly community with children.
Fire Island National Seashore
The parks of Fire Island are collectively known as the “Fire Island National Seashore”. The Sunken Forest and Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness are wilderness areas designated by the local government. They are part of the “National Seashore”. The beaches at Sailors Haven and Watch Hill also offer campgrounds. The historic Fire Island Lighthouse, built in 1858, is located in the west of the island and can be visited as well.