Day Trip to Fire Island from New York City
[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 8/30/2009 - www.Littleviews.com ]
>> The Fire Island National Seashore is committed to protecting its environment and the happiness of its residents.
I so anticipated seeing Fire Island that when I broke my left wrist while walking to the Bay Shore ferry dock, I decided to skip seeing a doctor and, holding my arm close to my chest, continued with the trip. The following day, X-rays confirmed the break and now, almost a month later, I am writing this article single-handedly with my wrist in a cast.
The ferry building at Bay Shore features ticketing windows, places to sit, and a tiny shop that serves creamy homemade ice cream, moist fudge, and a few necessities. Make a point of sampling its goodies before or after your trip.
Next to the boarding platform are numerous benches, which, under peak conditions, quickly fill up. To get the best seat on the ferry, however, its good to foresake the benches and line up early. On warm sunny days, the first ones in get their choice of top-side seats, and on rainy days, interior seats.
The entire trip from the mainland to Fire Island takes about 45 minutes (including boarding). As you leave the pier, you'll see the wide expanse of water and to the west, the Robert Moses Causeway.
On Friday's, many people head to Fire Island for the weekend or longer stay. Luckily, we lined up and boarded early. Soon thereafter, all upper deck seats filled up.
The harbor at Ocean Beach is exciting to approach. To the east, you'll see the Island Mermaid (631 583-9724), where you can get reasonably priced lunches, dinners, and drinks. Make a point of stopping there, or at one of the few other shorefront restaurants.
To the west of the harbor is the dock. Because no cars and only a few motor vehicles are allowed on the island, private carts (formal dollies to kids' wagons) are used to carry goods. Hundreds of these private wagons are stored next to the ferry dock.
As passengers debark, many head straight for their wagons. Soon, the community's Central Walk fills up with people pushing or tugging carts as they trudge toward their housing.
Central Walk is Ocean Beach's main street. It is here where you'll find its shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and bars, along with special events like craft fairs.
At maximum, the island is only a half-mile deep. While some homes are built along the shore, most are located along walkways that span the island's width. Here you'll see residents pulling wagons, riding bikes, or just strolling to and from the beach.
The picture above shows a small cottage with an imaginative front yard.
For those of you who seek small-yard landscaping ideas, you'll definitely find them on Fire Island!
A pastime enjoyed by Fire Island children is shell painting. We saw several examples of painted shells placed next to the road that served as signs. I understand that children often sell their work, although I don't know where.
When pedestrian traffic is low, it is easy to see from one side of the island to the other.
At the end of several walkways on the Atlantic Ocean side are stairs that lead to a bridge over the dunes. On the bridge, you will find a chart containing information about the ocean (tide tables, temperature, winds, etc.) and beach rules.
As I've seen on residential area beaches in other communities, people often leave their shoes and flipflops by the stairs.
The beach itself is extremely clean and considering its expanse, not particularly packed. Day trippers who are not Fire Island guests, however, usually do not join the locals for a dip as there are no bathhouses or public restrooms.
Larger homes border the beach, all of which had nice yards.
Getting to Ocean Beach on Fire Island
There are five ports on Fire Island, each one serving a small village and its surrounds. Ferries to these ports leave from Bay Shore and Sayville, Long Island. Bay Shore's ferries go specifically to Ocean Beach and its western neighbor, Saltaire.
Questions? Ask Karen at Karen@littleviews.com
Article by Karen Little. Photos by Philip Little. First published on 8/30/2009. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.