Are you ready for a day at the beach now that summer is finally here? If a little adventure and sand between your toes sounds like a sweet escape, trade the concrete jungle for the beaches of Fire Island. One of Long Island’s most unique destinations is a doable day trip for the whole family that, with a little planning, might just become one of your annual summer traditions. With gorgeous beaches, a small town feel and national park access, Fire Island truly embodies the idea of “getting away from it all.” Read our guide to learn the ins and outs of going to this beachy island.
So Close, but So Far Away
Those visiting Fire Island for the first time are often left dazed for a few minutes, as it’s hard to believe such peaceful tranquility can be found so close to New York City. Yet there it is, located on Long Island’s south shore, a tiny stretch of land which only measures 32 miles long and about a half mile at its widest point. Small in size does not mean short on personality, however, and Fire Island, even for just a day, will not disappoint.
Insider tip: Bring plenty of cash with you. There are few ATMs on the island, and water taxis and many businesses are strictly cash-only.
MTA all the way, baby. Simplify the planning process by purchasing a special one-day pass, which includes a roundtrip ticket on the LIRR, ferry passes and water taxi rides. Running daily from May 26th through September 3rd, the package will cost you at most $36 (children under age 5 are free of charge, $15.50 for ages 5-11) depending on which beach you’ll be throwing down your towel. Small strollers are allowed on water taxis, just don’t try and use it as a luggage cart (passengers may also carry 2 pieces of hand luggage – up to 25 lbs – free of charge). In a nutshell, travel as lightly as possible. Once you’ve arrived (the ride is approximately 1.5-2 hours), transportation gets a little tricky, as cars are not allowed on the island (with the exception of emergency vehicles). The best way to get around is on foot, bike or water taxi (see list of resources below). A pretty swell map of the island can be found here.
Best of the Best
Get close to nature in the Sunken Forest, a well-developed secondary dune system and rare maritime holly forest, located in the Sailors’ Haven section of Fire Island. Considered by most to be the “crown jewel” of the island, you can explore the area by walking the one and half mile long boardwalk, or take a guided tour by a ranger from the National Park Service. A variety of programs take place for children throughout the summer months.
So what are you waiting for? If time is of the essence and a quick getaway to a slower pace filled with salt air and a view of the Atlantic sounds tempting, Fire Island is closer than you think. We’re already packing our beach towels…