It took a long time for us to finally make it to Fire Island after hearing so many stories from friends who adore it. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, there are no cars on the island and things run at a much slower pace. About 2.5 hours from New York, the island is 50 kilometres long and around 400 meters at its widest point. There’s a string of tiny communities along the way, each with their own personality.
Most visitors take the ferry to reach Fire Island, so we took the L train, followed by the LIRR to Bayshore. From there we boarded an early morning ferry to Kismet before disembarking on the island. The locals had trolleys parked at the pier for transporting their luggage and groceries, miles away from the yellow cabs in Manhattan. We had lunch at Surf’s Out before spending our day lazily wandering from Kismet down towards Ocean Beach; reading, napping and paddling at Saltaire and Dunewood Beaches along the way.
One end of the island is home to Robert Moses State Park with it’s iconic black and white striped lighthouse. At the top it was both windy and wonderful, with incredible views over the island. The white sand, long grasses and pastel skies are littered with boardwalks, American flags, cottages and shacks. Friendly deer wander the island and sand flies abound; while visitors picnic, play tennis and sunbathe.
Further along, Ocean Beach is the largest township, with a smattering of stores, hotels and restaurants. It also has a lot more people, so we preferred the quiet stretches of beach we had to ourselves in-between. As we waited for our ferry home, we sat at Maguire’s Bayfront Restaurant just as the sun was setting. Hard to believe this peaceful escape is such a short commute from the city!