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Fire Island is a 22.5 square mile barrier island off the South Shore of Long Island. Portions of the towns of Islip, Babylon and Brookhaven are located on Fire Island, which is in Suffolk County. The population of Fire Island varies with the season, with a permanent resident base of just under 300 and a summer population measured in the hundreds of thousands with tourists and summer residents returning to bask in the sun along one of the east coast’s more beautiful shorefronts.
To the south of Fire Island is the expansive Atlantic Ocean, and along the north coast lie a series of interconnected bays beginning with the Great South Bay to the west, followed by Patchogue Bay, Bellport Bay, Narrow Bay and Moriches Bay. The Robert Moses Parkway and the William Floyd Parkway provide access for motor vehicles entering and leaving Fire Island. Otherwise, the island is accessible by ferries, boats and seaplanes.
Imperceptible to the human eye, Fire Island’s geographic features are constantly changing. There was a time when Fire Island was connected to Jones Beach Island, a single island stretching 60 miles from Jones Beach to South Hampton. The Fire Island Inlet naturally formed in 1863, and was later expanded through manpower, once over 9 miles wide before shrinking to its current width. The Fire Island Lighthouse was built immediately to the right of the inlet, but with the shifting sands the lighthouse is a now good six miles, an excellent day’s hike, from the inlet.
A 1931 Nor’easter caused the formation of the Moriches inlet and resulting in the separation of Southampton and Fire Island. Local efforts have protected eastern Fire Island with a series of jetties that have interrupted the longshore drift of sand from east to west which is blamed for the beach erosion.
The etymology of Fire Island continues to provide a thrill to mystery buffs. Historians claim that the name is derived from a corrupted translation of the Dutch word for “five,” the number of islands near the Fire Island Inlet. Yet, others claim that the island was named for the fires built near the water’s edge by pirates attempting to lure unsuspecting close enough to get stranded on the sandbars.
Fire Island National Seashore is operated by the National Parks Service and is adjacent to Robert Moses State Park. This segment of the island, 26 miles, is federally protected. Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, located on eastern Fire Island, is the only federally designated U.S. Wilderness Area in New York State. The Sunken Forest on Fire Island is considered a globally rare Maritime Forest. Several residential communities fall within its perimeter, lending a special air to the local culture.
Fire Island Lighthouse
The first lighthouse built on Fire Island was in 1826 which stood 74 feet tall. However, since the lighthouse was not effective due to its lack of height, the original lighthouse was taken down but the stone was reused to build the present lighthouse.
The Fire Island Lighthouse stood as a landmark particularly for transatlantic ships coming into New York Harbor. The Lighthouse was also the first sight many European immigrants saw upon their arrival to America. It proudly guarded the southern shore since its construction in 1958 but was then put out of commission in the early 1970s. It was not until 1982 when the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed by a group of private citizens who raised enough funds for the restoration and the preservation of the lighthouse. It was built to the right of the inlet, but with the shifting sands the lighthouse is now a good six miles, an excellent day’s hike, from the inlet. Today, the Fire Island Lighthouse stands as Long Island’s tallest lighthouse at an astounding 168 feet with 156 steps to get to the top. Today, it continues to stand as a landmark and a museum for locals to visit.
From one end to the other, Fire Island is not only filled with shorelines and beautiful beaches but also local communities offering a scenic feel to the area.
In the narrowest part of Fire Island, Atlantique consists of 50 homes centered around sand dune guided walkways.
Known for its artistic expression, Cherry Grove is also considered to be the foremost gay friendly summer retreat featuring a range of amenities from restaurants to clubs and bars.
With a small community of about 100 homes, Dunewood lacks much of the nightlife most other parts of Long Island share. The bay and ocean beaches have been kept pristine in this community. It is the perfect place for those looking for some privacy.
Fair Harbor features a more downtown feel for those who are interested in the nightlife activities while also enjoying the beautiful view of the sunset. With an upscale food market, ice cream, bars, restaurants and more, there is plenty to do for a night on the town.
Fire Island Pines
Believed to be named Fire Island Pines due to a shipwreck in which a cargo of evergreen trees came to shore and took root, its boutiques and restaurants offer a lively and social atmosphere.
Kismet is known for its party lifestyle where many seasonal visitors enjoy nights of dancing and happy hours. It is one of the most popular seasonal getaways. The area also features bar and grills
Just as it sounds, Lonelyville is a secluded community that can truly let you get away from it all.
As the unofficial capital of Fire Island, Ocean Beach has the greatest concentrations of bars, restaurants, stores and countless amounts of things to do.
Point O’ Woods
Point O’ Woods is the oldest community on Fire Island with a strong emphasis on family living. As a gated community, this town offers privacy to visitors and residents. The Point O’ Woods ferry line is the last remaining ferry line in Bay Shore that has not been consumed by the conglomerate, Fire Island Ferries Inc.
For families seeking to get a little rest and relaxation, Saltaire is a village filled with recreational activities from basketball to tennis and even a Yacht Club. Saltaire is located between the communities of Kismet and Fair Harbor.
Seaview is one of the most kid friendly communities featuring playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts and swimming for families who are looking to get away but also stay active.
This small and private beach community consists of about 50 homes making Water Island an exclusive Fire Island community.
Watch Hill is located in the middle of Fire Island and is accessible only through private boat or seasonal ferry service out of Patchogue.
Beaches & Parks
With miles worth of sandy beaches, Fire Island is one of the most popular beach resorts for residents to visit. Whether you like to sit and soak up some rays, swim in the sound, or take a walk along the shore, there is an open spot for you to experience the sound of waves washing up on the shore and the smell of the cool ocean breeze. Enjoy some outdoor fun and get close with nature or take a swim in the ocean beaches in one of the several parks on Fire Island.
Robert Moses State Park
Originally known as Fire Island State Park, this park is one of the first State Parks on Long Island. It is the perfect destination for those who are looking for an escape from the city life where thousands of residents can relax while also working on a tan.
Davis Park is part of the Town of Brookhaven and is located roughly in the center of Fire Island. It is one of the younger communities in the region formed after 1945. It has become a true boater’s community with a 250-boat marina.The local Casino Cafe acts as an important community hub. Davis Park can only be reached by ferry or private boat.
Smith Point County Park - William Floyd Parkway, Shirley 11967
This oceanfront park is at one of the most easterly points of Fire Island accessible by the Smith Point Bridge and William Floyd Parkway. It is one of the parks that offers the most spacious area for camping with 270 campsites for tents and trailers. Smith Point also is also known for its waves perfect for surfing. After a long day of fun, get a bite to eat at the Smith Point Beach Hut.
The Barrett Beach/Talisman area is located near the center of Fire Island National Seashore, across the Great South Bay from Bayport and Sayville. It is only accessible by private boat and foot, and by charter ferry service from Patchogue or Sayville. Barrett Beach/Talisman also offers a dock for boaters to load and unload only, a boardwalk trail leading across the island to the ocean beach, restrooms, and a picnic area.
Dining & Nightlife
Seafood lovers are sure to love the collection of clam shacks, oyster bars, and other restaurants that can be found on Fire Island. Of course, those who are not in the mood for some fish have the option to dine at one of the plenty of restaurants found within the communities of Fire Island.
Smith Point Beach Hut - William Floyd Pkwy, Shirley, NY 11967
The Smith Point Beach Hut is perfect for those seafood lovers who are looking to get a bite to eat. The menu includes a large selection of seafood items, tropical drinks and live music every day from 5pm to sunset.
Flynn’s - Ocean Bay Park, Fire Island, NY 11770
Flynn’s features beautiful waterfront dining with incredible views of Long Island where everyone is welcomed. Whether you’re heading for a nice dinner or a night on the town, this venue is the perfect place to socialize and meet new people. DJs liven up the dance floors each weekend.
Surf’s Out - Bay Walk, Kismet, NY 11706
The Surf’s Out Restaurant in Kismet is Fire Island’s premier waterfront restaurant and club serving Italian specialties, fresh seafood, and a spectacular sushi menu. It features a fabulous sunset dining deck with the most majestic view of the water. It also features live music, happy hours, DJ’s and dancing entertainment.
The Casino Cafe - Dune Walk, Fire Island, NY 11772
The Casino Café and Bar is the place to see and be seen in Davis Park as it is the only bar and grill in town offering great views of both the ocean and the bay.
Schooners - Ocean Bay Blvd, Fire Island, NY 11770
Overlooking the Ocean Bay Park marina, Schooners offers a spacious and vibrant bar to hang at while you set your worries a sail giving a neighborhood feel.
Bocce Beach - Evergreen Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770
Bocce is famous for it’s rib, steak, and veal entrees. It is also a little roomier than most. Ocean Beach bars. While most bars in Ocean Beach are crowded by folks in their 20’s, Bocce consistently draws all ages.
Castaway - Bay Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770
Re-opened in 2007, Castaway is one of two bars open all year round and provides a different scene to Ocean Beach. For those looking for a low-key lunch, dinner or drinks, Castaway is a warm and welcoming bar.
Maguire’s - Bay View Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770
Maguire’s is the place to be if you’re looking to go out with a big group, celebrate a birthday, or meet other people. Located near the west edge of town, Maguire’s is the site to enjoy the sunset over the bay. Whether dining on the deck or the cabin inside, there are countless dishes to try on the menu.
Matthew’s Seafood - Bay Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770
This cozy bar and restaurant has a home-like feel with exposed wood beams, rustic tables, and candle-lit deck surroundings. It offers numerous seafood dishes including baked clams, seafood bisque and coconut shrimp. Matthews also has a fish market in front for the best take-out lunches – fried chicken, and lobster rolls with chips, packaged in carrying cases for the beach or home.
Rachel’s - Bay Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770
Rachel’s is where you will find the comfort food on the island with melt-in-your-mouth pastries served to go from dawn to dusk. Rachel’s also serves up a packed house for a marathon brunch that unravels into all-day eating.
The Sandbar - Bay Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770
Designed to resemble the Fire Island Ferry, this fresh faced bar is the spot for live music and theme nights. The menu offers an array of wraps, sandwiches, and burgers. Much of the locals are drawn to this bar for its entertainment, board games, live music, and theme nights. There’s always something going on.
Boating is an integral part of the Fire Island lifestyle. From motorboats to sailboats to kayaks, there is a variety of boating opportunities for families to enjoy. Fire Island offers numerous marinas for visitors to dock their boats for the day as well as dock for the night. While boating can be fun and entertaining, it is important to always remember boat safety.
Atlantique Marina Park - Atlantique, Fire Island, NY 11706
Atlantique has a lot to offer boaters and ferry visitors with over 150 marina boat slips. Boaters will enjoy Atlantique's wide boat slips, electrical service, fresh water hookup and free pump out station. This makes Atlantique Beach a great choice for day trippers or weekend boaters.
Seaview Marina - Evergreen Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770
This boat basin can currently accommodate 60 boats of various sizes. Most of the slips are rented on a seasonal basis to Seaview homeowners and renters. A limited number of slips are also available for overnight docking.
Fire Island Pines Marina - 1 Harbor Park, Fire Island Pines, NY 11782
The Pines Marina is owned and operated by the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association (FIPPOA). The marina can accommodate a wide variety of boat sizes and provides water and electric service for each slip.
Davis Park Marina - Davis Park, NY 11772
The Davis Park Marina is one of the largest marinas on Fire Island. With over 200 slips, Davis Park Marina is truly is a boaters paradise. The marina boasts electric and water hookups, bathroom facilities with showers, the Harbor Store, snack bar, regular ferry service to and from Long Island and more!
Smith Point County Marina - William Floyd Parkway, Shirley 11967
This marina offers a boat ramp for visitors looking to spend a day on the water. The boat ramp features a freshwater washdown and 50 parking spots for trailers. Yearly or daily permits are required.
Most visitors travel to Fire Island for its fishing grounds who are looking to reel in some bluefish and bass. Whether it’s for sport or just recreational purposes, no permit is required. A no-fee New York State recreational marine fishing registry is now required, and New York State recreational saltwater fishing seasons, size and possession limits apply. Commercial fishing is not allowed within the boundaries of Fire Island National Seashore. While some fishermen can cast right from the shoreline, there is also the option of taking a private boat into the bays for deep-sea offshore fishing which can yield the best results.
Many charter fishing boats are offered such as nearby Captree State Park and north of the Fire Island Inlet. Boat ramps are available for private vessels at Captree and several other nearby state parks as well as Smith Point County Marina. Fishing is not permitted in Fire Island National Seashore's marinas, nor at designated, life guarded swimming beaches.
Fishtale Charters - 3500 E. Ocean Parkway Babylon, NY 11702
With Fishtale Charters, enjoy private fishing or a simple cruise for up to 87 people. The charter offers two bathrooms, an upper sun deck and all fishing gear is supplied. Bring home some fluke, stripers, seabass and more!
Fire Island offers three designated camping areas. From sleeping under the stars and enjoying the cool evening air to experiencing the indigenous wildlife, camping on Fire Island will be a memorable experience.
Watch Hill Campground
As the most popular of all Fire Island camping with 26 campsites, this spot is great for families, groups and boaters. Each campground site allows for five adults with either two 2-man tents or one 5-man tent.
Smith Point County Park
Smith Point camping lacks the all of the amenities that Watch Hill has but makes up for in beauty and the convenience of the Smith Point Bridge and William Floyd Parkway from the mainland. It is also a popular fishing destination.
Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness
At 1,380 acres, this federally protected area is one of the smallest wilderness areas managed by the National Park Service. You must have a Park ranger issue a permit to camp here and it’s completely first come first serve.
Fun For Kids
With miles and miles of coastline filled with sand and water, there are endless possibilities for kids, children and even adults to enjoy the freedom and the fresh air. With a little bit of imagination, kids will find something to do with no problem!
Make sand castles
Look for seashells
In the 1950s, Fire Island became an emerging summer retreat and the real estate boomed. Newly established beach bungalows lit up with creative New Yorkers. Over the next ten years, the landscape became a collage of rooftops where the rich and famous were able to escape the busy streets of New York City and soak in the sun. It remains popular among artists, actors, and musicians. The car-free, pastoral, beach getaway is a truly unique summer destination.
For those who are planning on staying a while to kick back and relax, be sure to choose the right hotel for you. For those who are looking to stay for the whole summer, rent out your own vacation house for some privacy and your own personal oceanfront views.
The Palms Hotel - 168 Cottage Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770
The Palms Hotel offers luxurious accommodations in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.
Belvedere Guest House - Bayview Walk, Brookhaven 11782
The Belvedere Guest House is the finest gay hotel in the Cherry Grove community offering luxurious rooms. It is also the closest hotel to the Great South Bay and clothing optional beach.
Grove Hotel - 1 Main Walk, Cherry Grove 11782
Located in the very heart of Cherry Grove, the Hotel is central to the best that Fire Island has to offer. It is only steps away from the beach, restaurants, shops, dance clubs and bars.
The Madison Fire Island Pines - 22 Atlantic Walk, Fire Island Pines 11782
Situated in the heart of Fire Island’s most gay resort community, the Madison Fire Island Pines are seconds away from the ferry and beautiful beaches.
Pines Bluff Overlook - 362 Ocean Walk, Brookhaven 11782
Pines Bluff Overlook is just one row off the beach with unlimited views of the ocean and bay. All rooms are recently renovated, have private baths, air-conditioning, TV/DVD, bar refrigerators, and private access to the outside deck.
Kismet Inn & Marina -1 Oak St, Kismet 11706
This colonial style inn is considered a Fire Island landmark and boasts expansive views of the bay and marina.
Fire Island Hotel and Resort -25 Cayuga Walk, Ocean Bay Park 11770
This secluded spot at the end of Cayuga Walk offers a great location as it sits on the sand dune overlooking the ocean.
Sea Shore Condo Motel - Ocean Bay Park, Fire Island 11770
This motel is located in the center of town, steps from the dining and nightlife Ocean Bay Park is famous for.
Clegg’s Hotel - 478 Bayberry Walk, Ocean Beach 11770
Clegg’s Hotel is in the heart of Ocean Beach built to resemble a sailor’s rooming house. The accommodations are modest and styled after a European boarding house.
Housers Hotel On The Bay - 785 Evergreen Walk, Ocean Beach 11770
Housers Hotel is the perfect place for guests looking to enjoy a simple way of life with rooms furnished in a simple country style and overlooking the Great South Bay.
The Seasons Bed & Breakfast - 482 Bayberry Walk, Ocean Beach 11770
This cozy and romantic country home by the sea offers a bed and breakfast for guests who are looking to simply relax. Rooms are clean and comfortable and tempered with that northeast beach flavor.