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I love where we live – especially in the summer months. Honestly, there isn’t too much of a need to plan big getaways, there is so much to do here on Long Island! But even though I have lived here almost my whole life, there was one place I was really hoping to get to this summer! So a few weekends ago we took a Day Trip to Fire Island.
Photo credit: Vito Fun via VisualHunt / CC BY
Day Trip To Fire Island, New York
Fire Island is a barrier island off the main island that we live on. Along the south shore (where we live) there are a few barrier islands – if you have heard of or been to places like Long Beach, Atlantic Beach, Jones Beach or Robert Moses, you have been to a barrier island! But unlike those others, Fire Island is only accessible by boat.
Okay that’s apparently not 100% true – you can access the eastern and western most parts of Fire Island by parking at either Robert Moses or Smith Point and walking over to Fire Island proper.
We chose instead to take the ferry from Bay Shore to Ocean Beach.
Getting To Fire Island
There are several passenger ferries that operate out of Bay Shore and Sayville. Each ferry services different parts of Fire Island, so you need to have an idea of where you want to head before you board. We chose Ocean Beach because from my research that seemed to be the most built up (stores, restaurants, etc.) and the more family friendly part of the island.
We arrived at the ferry terminal around 11am one Saturday morning in July. We bought our tickets ($19 round trip for adults, $9 round trip for kids) and then I dropped off my family and our beach cart at the ferry building.
At that time of day, the official Ferry parking lots were all full, so I had to drive into Bay Shore and park in town. I found a street with 8 hour parking until 6pm. This was by far the worst part of the trip, and it wasn’t that bad because I didn’t mind the 10-15 minute walk back to the ferry. In Bay Shore, most streets are two hour parking and the municipal lots have very few spots that are 12 hours. Most are 4 hours.
The other parking option is to park at Touro College and take a free shuttle bus back to the ferry terminal.
At the ferry dock, once our boat arrived, it was a bit of a cattle call to get all of the passengers on the boat. We checked our beach cart ($5 one-way charge) and found some seats upstairs. The ride over to Fire Island took about 20 minutes, with nice bay breezes and beautiful views. I felt like we were on an exciting adventure and the kids loved it.
We arrived in Ocean Beach around 12:30 and disembarked in town. There is a strip of stores, restaurants and bars with the bay to your north and the beach to your south. Since there are no vehicles, you can push your cart or wagon and walk in the pedestrian streets.
When we arrived, we checked out the lunch options. You CANNOT eat on the beach (and I saw police walking around giving tickets to enforce this rule) so we had planned to eat lunch in a restaurant before heading to the ocean.
We checked out the restaurant options and decided to head into Rachel’s Bakery. I had read about Rachel’s online and this place did not disappoint! Hubby had a delicious sandwich and I had an amazing fried goat cheese salad. Our server was so friendly and our kids loved that the table was covered in butcher paper and they gave us crayons to draw.
After eating, our server offered to give us waters to take to the beach and she pointed us in the right direction.
We then took about a 10-minute walk south through the lovely neighborhood. The houses are all so unique and carefully decorated. It was awesome to just be able to stroll through the streets with no cars!
When we got to the beach we found there is no charge, but there is a big staircase that takes you up and over the dune. Since we had our Tommy Bahama Beach cart, we had to unload it a bit, and carry it up the stairs (and then bop it down with the big wheels). Not something I would want to do 10x a day, but it was fine for our day trip. I did notice other people left their wagons on the north side of the dune, but locked them up.
Once we got on the beach, it was similar to other Ocean beaches in our area. It was very clean (maybe because of the no eating policy) and on the day of our visit it was hot, with awesome waves. We swam most of the day!
I did also notice there was no bathroom at this beach. There were restrooms at the restaurant, which we used. There were also public restrooms at the ferry dock in town. This is definitely something important to know before you go!
After a few hours in the sand, we walked back over the dune and into town. We finished the day with ice cream from Beaches and Cream. Before our ferry home we walked in and out of the souvenir shops. Since it was Saturday night, the bars were packed and live music was playing. Very fun atmosphere for sure!
We hopped on the 6:00 ferry back to Bay Shore (this time they did not charge for the hand luggage) and we were home soon after. We had a ton of fun on our day trip to Fire Island. It felt like a far getaway, even though we were only in the next county over!
I would love to return to the island and check out some of the other neighborhoods. We had planned to walk to Ocean Bay Park but ran out of time. I also want to visit the lighthouse (which you can drive to).
Have you been to Fire Island? What are you best day-trip tips?
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