You’ve heard all about Montauk and the Hamptons, but how about Fire Island? This 31-mile long, beach bum paradise is comprised of two adjoining islands, several charming hamlets, and absolutely no roads, which means no cars and less noise. Fire Island has instead embraced a more laid-back, welcoming atmosphere. The active nightlife scene, acclaimed restaurants, friendly residents, and impeccable beaches have made Fire Island one of the nation’s most trendy summer destinations.
The Very Best that Fire Island has to Offer
Finding a Place to Stay
Because you can only access the island by ferry, day trips tend to be difficult. Besides, you’re going to need more time than that to get the full Fire Island experience.
Since 1949, Clegg’s Hotel has staked out its spot along the shore of Ocean Beach. With its sprawling views of Long Island’s Great South Bay, Clegg’s is an old-school hotel where you’ll feel right at home in one of their many spacious guest rooms. The hotel also conveniently provides visitors with a Continental breakfast, bicycle rentals, board games, and all of the beach supplies you’ll ever need.
A few other popular lodging spots are The Palms Hotel Fire Island and The Seasons Bed and Breakfast. For alternate accommodations, beachside campsites like Smith Point County Park Campground and Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness are perfect for this time of year.
Discovering the Area
Upon arrival, every new visitor should check out the island’s crown jewel, the Fire Island Lighthouse. You’ll have the opportunity to scale one of the country’s oldest and tallest lighthouses. When you finally reach the top, you are greeted by breathtaking views of Long Island and the Atlantic Ocean.
If nature is more your speed, look no further than Sailor Haven’s Sunken Forest. Walk its Nature Trail, a 1.5 mile boardwalk that winds through dunes, multiple ecosystems, a salt marsh, and the Great South Bay. The forest is mostly shaded, so the moderate temperatures can provide a welcome relief for the dog days of summer.
Spend a day at Watch Hill on the western edge of Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness. There’s a visitor center, guided canoe tours, a marina, a general store/ snack bar, and a nature trail.
Other cool places to check out include the popular village of Ocean Beach, with all of its shops and restaurants, and the historic LGBT–centric community of Cherry Grove.
The Official Fire Island Food & Drink Guide
The beaches aren’t always the biggest draw for visitors. Fire Island is also home to some the area’s most undervalued restaurants and bars. And with most of these spots nudged right up along the beach, it’s really no wonder why people keep coming back for more.
CJ’s Restaurant & Bar at The Palms Hotel has been proudly serving residents and visitors for over 43 years. They have fresh seafood favorites like their house Lobster Roll or Steamed Mussels. This popular island hangout also holds the title as being the “Home of Rocket Fuel.” This must-have signature cocktail is just a pina colada with vodka, tequila, and 151-proof rum mixed in.
Flynn’s of Ocean Bay Park is ideal for your weekend excursions. One of the mainstays of Fire Island’s busy nightlife scene, Flynn’s always packs a crowd for their reasonably priced drinks, bar specials, and nightly DJ performances.
For a different type of atmosphere, check out SandCastle on the Ocean in Cherry Grove. One of only two oceanfront restaurants in Fire Island, SandCastle boasts a wide selection of seafood and cocktails. Where else can you enjoy a chilled Prosecco between bites of seared sea scallops and Littleneck clams? Not to mention, they regularly host singers and musicians to perform in their cozy, intimate piano bar.
What are some of your Fire Island favorites?