It’s hard to imagine that just outside the non-stop hustle and bustle of New York City is a beachfront vacation spot so quiet and serene, even automobiles are not allowed in most areas as there are no paved roads.
Fire Island, the 32-mile long barrier beach just off Long Island’s South Shore is primarily accessed via ferry. Ferries disembark passengers directly at town or park centers so that very little walking is actually required. The island is only a half-mile wide at its widest point.
The primary mode of transportation on Fire Island is hike, bike, water taxi or pull cart.
Leave your car at any of the terminals on Long Island (parking fee applies) and walk aboard a ferry to be transported to a different state of mind, one that is tranquil and unhurried.
City dwellers will welcome the silence of no honking horns because there are no cars, taxis or buses once you get to Fire Island.
Fire Island also consists of 17 communities, each with its own unique personality and attractions, from the nightlife hotspots of Ocean Beach and Ocean Bay to the tranquil pace of Kismet or Saltaire. Fire Island is also home to the predominantly same sex lifestyle community of Cherry Grove. The communities were built before Fire Island was designated a National Seashore in 1964. Access via ferry from Bayshore, Sayville and Patchogue.
Many of the communities feature lodging and dining, with the greatest number of options in Ocean Beach and Cherry Grove. There are also quaint shops and ice cream parlors, but don’t expect to see any high rise hotels, big box retailers or massive shopping complexes here. Development is very limited.
Sunken Forest and Watch Hill
Fire Island also has two undeveloped National Seashore parks, Sunken Forest and Watch Hill, although both have food, shower and bathroom facilities and camping is permitted at Watch Hill.
The Sunken Forest in the Sailor’s Haven portion of the Fire island National Seashore Park is a spectacular environmental wonder to experience. The Sunken Forest, just behind the dunes of Fire Island’s spectacular beaches, offers visitors the opportunity to feel like a giant in a forest that won’t grow any higher than the sand dunes that protect it from the ocean’s salty wind. Tours along the boardwalk through the forest are offered weekends. Accessible via ferry from Sayville.
At Watch Hill visitors will find boardwalk trails that wind along the bay side of the island. Here you’ll see a range of wild life, from rare species of birds to an abundance of friendly, but timid deer. Accessible via ferry from Patchogue.
For day visitors to Fire Island, there is bridge access at either end of Fire Island at Robert Moses State Park and at Smith Point State Park. Both have paved parking fields, but these are the only paved areas on the entire island. There are no paved roads connecting the communities or the parks.