Whether it’s escaping your hectic work or home life, or just seeking a new destination to check out, Fire Island is the perfect place to visit, relax, enjoy activities, and see the natural and man-made sights. The laid-back beach environment will send a soothing wave of calmness over your body as soon as you step off the ferry.
But maybe you don’t have time to spend more than a day here. No problem! Day trips to Fire Island from NYC or northern New Jersey are less than 2 hours away. You can easily pack a full day’s worth of fun in the sun within a short distance of your home.
Preparation & Getting Here
When visiting a beach community, you want to be sure you dress accordingly and bring appropriate items along with you. Be sure to check the weather before arriving and bring a change of clothes, sunscreen, money, swimsuit, towel, camera, and any other items you can fit in a backpack that will help you throughout your day.
Don’t forget to check the ferry schedule so you can plan accordingly and make sure you don’t miss the boat from Bay Shore, Sayville, or Patchogue. And be sure to note that the ferries only accept cash payments!
Taking the Ferry from Bay Shore?
Once docked on Fire Island, you’ll be in the community of Kismet. If you’re hungry, you can choose from The Inn, Pizza Shack, or Surf’s Out for food which are all a short walk from the ferry. Head down to the beach after for some fun in the sun. Just to the west is the Fire Island Lighthouse. You can explore the natural trails on the bay and beach side by the lighthouse, or take a tour inside and all the way to the top.
There’s also Robert Moses State Park to explore. To the east are the communities of Saltaire, Fair Harbor, Dunewood, Lonelyville, Atlantique, and Ocean Beach.
Taking the Ferry from Sayville?
Upon your arrival to the Island, you’ll be in the community of Fire Island Pines, one of the more LGBT-friendly areas available. Food options include The Blue Whale, Canteen, and High Tea Deck. There’s also a few shopping options right here too.
To the west are the communities of Cherry Grove (another mostly LGBT community), and Point O’ Woods. Water Island and Sailors Haven are to the west.
Taking the Ferry from Patchogue?
The Davis Park Ferry brings you to the areas of Davis Park and Watch Hill on Fire Island. Relax by the beach at the Casino Cafe, a seasonal beachside bar and eatery. You’ll almost be at the eastern edge of Fire Island, so look west for more tourist options.
Bigger is Better
Ocean Beach is a 600-home community with the greatest concentration of bars, restaurants, stores, and shopping on the entire island. It’s also the island’s unofficial capital.
Overflowing with small-town charm reminiscent of a simpler time, main street walks are lined with ice cream shops, mom and pop markets, and “beach chic” boutiques. Local children sell painted shell souvenirs out of red Radio-Flyer wagons.
One of the top ten things to do on Fire Island is to go parasailing in Ocean Beach. Get a bird’s eye view of Fire Island on this fun-but also safe-excursion. You will have amazing view of the sky over the water. Ocean Beach is a fun place to experience parasailing, boat tours, and sunset cruises.
Dining and Lodging
Some of the popular spots for hotels and lodging are:
The Palm’s Hotel in Ocean Beach – This luxury hotel also has the popular CJ’s Restaurant and Bar attached to it. Enjoy a view of the ocean with amenities including: wifi, refrigerator, flat-screen TV, free use of bicycles, a coffee shop, and an outdoor area where you can lounge on a beach chair in the sand.
The Grove Hotel in Cherry Grove – If you want to be located in an LGBT friendly party atmosphere, this is the hotel for you! Within a short distance to the Ice Palace and downtown area, the dormitory-style hotel is the perfect location to enjoy a fun-filled vacation. You are just steps away from the hotel pool, the beach, shopping, restaurants, bars, and dance clubs, and you will be surrounded by entertainment and nightlife during your stay—and while you are there, enjoy the world-famous Miss Fire Island contest!
Fire Island Hotel – This casual hotel in Ocean Beach is 5 miles from the Fire Island Lighthouse and 9 miles from Captree State Park. With amenities like a flat-screen TV, iPod docs, private outdoor terraces, outdoor showers, and full kitchens-this is the ideal hotel for families.
With an outdoor pool, surfboard rentals, grill and tiki bar, coffee shop and free wifi-there is something for everyone to enjoy at the Fire Island Hotel!
Popular Restaurants and Bars
We have both fine and casual dining.
For fine dining, we have The Hideaway restaurant in Great South Bay which has French cuisine and delicious seafood. The Pine Bistro and Martini Bar in Ocean Beach is an intimate premiere Italian restaurant. Finally, the Top of the Bay in Cherry Grove is great for a sunset dinner with a drink in hand.
For casual dining, we have Flynn’s Fire Island on Ocean beach for an afternoon drink or late night partying. CJ’s Restaurant and Bar in Ocean Beach has live music, seafood, and great drinks. Rachel’s Bakery and Restaurant makes their signature pancakes and coffee-it’s the best place for breakfast or dessert. Michael’s Ristorante & Pizzeria is an Italian eatery that makes their signature pizza—and nutella crepes for dessert.
Activities on Fire Island:
There are many things for everyone to do and enjoy on Fire Island—from family activities to competitive sports and nightlife.
Boating – Fire Island is one of the top destinations for boating enthusiasts. With 101 miles of coastline to sail (that’s a long stretch), you can take off and sail all day. Point O’ Woods, Summer Club, Saltaire, and Dunewood all have clubs that enjoy sailing as a hobby.
Sports – In nearly every Fire Island community, there is a tennis court. If you are looking for a break from the beach, make an early reservation by 9 am to use the courts as they book up quickly. Fire Island is also great for biking. Since it is such an eco-friendly community, people bike everywhere, and there are many trails to use. For swimming and cooling off after the hot sun, many of the beaches have lifeguards-but some are swim at your own risk. Please take caution when bringing your children near water. Waterskiing, tubing, and surfing are all fun water activities favored by Fire Island locals.
Fishing and Hiking – Another great activity on Fire Island is fishing. Fishermen are attracted from all over to catch the bass and bluefish from Fire Island shores. Fishing does not require a permit, and you can even use a charter boat for deep-sea offshore fishing to catch shark, marlin, and tuna. Finally, hiking is one of the favored activity of tourists to see the wildlife and feel the ocean breeze along the boardwalk. There are shorter 2-mile trails at Watch Hill and Sailors Haven, and there are longer 5-mile trails that go from the beach, salt marsh, and forest terrain of Otis Pike.
What Else Ya Got?
Now that you have a basic idea of where you’ll be landing on the island, let’s see what types of activities are best suited for day trippers.
- Beach – There are beaches all around NY and NJ, but very few are as quaint, quiet, and unquestionably beautiful as those on Fire Island. Simply get off the ferry and walk south.
- Biking – Using a rental, or your own wheels, you can bike all around the island. And don’t worry about cars in the communities—there are none!
- Fishing – You don’t need a fishing license, and there are charter boats available to take you offshore.
- Hiking – Miles and miles of nature trails await you. Take your pick as there are several parks on the island. Check out The Sunken Forest in Sailor’s Haven, covering over 40 acres.
- Shopping – While a lot of the communities have at least some shops to peruse through, Ocean Beach is the area with the most shopping options.