Fire Island 411
July 12, 2012 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I live in NYC and would like to take my family for a day trip to Fire Island, but have been kind of frustrated by the googling I've done (lots of info, some of it conflicting). Any Fire Island residents/visitors care to help me out?

I'm trying to figure out which beach(es) would be most easily accessible from the Bay Shore ferry (I have small children, and we have beach stuff to haul along, so a long walk is not ideal). Ocean Beach seems to be a commonly recommended destination, but I've read that food and drink are prohibited on the beach. Is that possible? You're not allowed to pack sandwiches/bottled water? Seems weird.

I don't need to know about accommodations or nightlife or other entertainment options... basically I'm just looking for a beach that is easy to get to and allows sandwiches. :) If no such place exists on FI, we'll just stick with Robert Moses, which would be fine too.

Thanks very much for any help.
posted by torticat to Travel & Transportation around Fire Island, NY (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There are taxis out there, you just can't bring your own car so I wouldn't worry about the walk. There should also be plenty of eating establishments so I wouldn't be concerned about that. It is absolutely gorgeous out there and would be a great day trip - it's been ages since I've been, but why not just go (and maybe start with Ocean Beach?) and have fun?
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:40 PM on July 12, 2012

Best answer: Have you seen this? It's got a pretty accurate rundown of the different towns on Fire Island. I am very familiar with FI, and for a day trip with little kids, I'd head to Robert Moses instead, like, definitely. The family-friendly (not all of them are ...) FI beaches aren't a snap to get to (as I'm sure you know, no cars allowed) and if you're hauling stuff ... It's just a lot to deal with on a day trip!
posted by thinkpiece at 6:05 PM on July 12, 2012

Best answer: Watch Hill is spacious and gorgeous. Long-ish walk from the ferry to the beach but there is a sandwich shack and tiki bar.

posted by vrakatar at 6:24 PM on July 12, 2012

Response by poster: The family-friendly (not all of them are ...) FI beaches aren't a snap to get to

Okay, that's pretty much what I needed to know. Sigh! I've wanted for a long time to check out Fire Island, and I thought the ferry would be fun and all... but I guess I'll just wait a few more years until the hike is a bit more feasible.

Is a day trip to FI beaches not really something people do, then? You pretty much want to plan on spending a few days there?

posted by torticat at 7:53 PM on July 12, 2012

I'd head to Robert Moses instead, like, definitely.

You can get to Robert Moses by bus and LIRR. Now, when you get to R.M., facing the water make a left and walk up the beach that way. Adjacent up there is a beach called Gilgo beach. Walk over there, you'll know you're there when the crowd thins out. This used to be a designated nude beach, don't know about now, but it certainly has a different vibe from R.M. It has little dunes and scrub brush.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:44 PM on July 12, 2012

Altantique is family friendly. Further up is Kismet (maybe different ferry). Sailor's haven (I think that's the name) is also family friendly. (Maybe the most family friendly- it has a ranger station and tiny visitor center). In general, you are not really supposed to eat on the beach but most towns are very cute with benchs and picnic areas you can eat at. In fact it may only be Ocean Beach that has that rule, I'm not sure.

You can buy round trip tickets from the LIRR, there is a day package that includes the ferry tickets. It's a long haul, but it's actually the carlessness and remoteness that makes it so cute, nice and peaceful feeling. (And less crowded of course). You can walk everywhere when you get off the ferry, it is literally (sorry) 5 min from the marina side to the beach side in some places, like Atlantique for example.

I love it but it's a bit of a big day trip and I've never done it with kids.
posted by bquarters at 8:47 PM on July 12, 2012

I'm not sure what "family friendly" means in this context. I grew up on FI and my family still has a house there so if you're more specific I can help, although I am most familiar with the Sayville ferry destinations.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:27 AM on July 13, 2012

We day trip to Watch Hill often enough, but we have no kids and a truck.
posted by vrakatar at 6:40 AM on July 13, 2012

Response by poster: DarlingBri, I was looking for a shortish walk from the ferry to the beach and for us to be able to pack lunch (don't want to haul sandy kids to a restaurant). Also public restrooms are good. Ocean Beach seems really restrictive (all the no food, frisbee-throwing, etc).

Watch Hill looks beautiful.... thanks again all.
posted by torticat at 7:52 AM on July 13, 2012

Response by poster: I am updating for the sake of anyone who looks at this question in the future.... We decided to check out Watch Hill, and I very much recommend it. The ferry ride is beautiful and fun for kids. The walk from the ferry to the beach is pretty easy since it's all boardwalk, and takes maybe 5-7 minutes.

The beach is SO much less crowded than Jones or Robert Moses; plenty of space in the lifeguarded section, and the stretches outside of the green flags were practically empty--and this was on a beautiful Saturday in July. Also, the lifeguards were more laid back than at the other beaches; people were swimming outside the green flags and using floaty tubes in the surf and so on. I don't think I heard the lifeguards whistle at anyone once all day. That may not be a selling point for everyone, but I like the more relaxed atmosphere.

I've probably said "thanks" enough in this thread but one more time--vrakatar, thanks much for the recommendation!
posted by torticat at 10:21 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

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