On Monday morning Mr M and I took action to escape New York City’s 4th heatwave of the summer, taking our very generous overnight bag and slightly cumbersome eski (aka ‘cooler’) on the 1, and then the 2 train down to Penn Station. Another two trains, one van ride and a ferry trip later we arrived in Kismet, the western-most community on Fire Island, a narrow barrier island (or is it just a sand-bar?) along the southern side of Long Island.
Although we had travelled about three hours into the future, somehow we had ended up in the past, in a time period somewhere between Harry S Truman and John F Kennedy (making that the 1950s if your American history needs refreshing!). Bather-clad people pedal bicycles, belongings are carted to and from the dock in wagons, little girls sell painted sea-shells by the sea-shore, and no-one locks the house (well, at least we didn’t).
And there are no cars.
Over the next few days we rode bikes with pedal-brakes, swam (and got dumped), climbed to the top of the lighthouse, read trashy magazines, ate, sipped wine and were generally merry. We smelt of sunscreen, bugspray and salt.
So you want to go to Fire Island?
- Take the Long Island Railroad to Bayshore Long Island (approx $23 return as at July 2012)
- From here you can either walk to the ferry (Head down 4th Avenue/Maple Avenue towards the bay, this is just over a mile), or take the van that is waiting at the station ($5 July 2012)
- Make sure you get the right ferry: The ferry service has a couple of ports - which take you to different parts of Fire Island. An adult round trip is $17.
- Check schedule and ticketing information for the ferry here
- Check schedule and ticketing information for Long Island Railroad here
Other things to consider
- Think about taking food/drink with you. There are a few shops/restaurants on the island, but they are priced accordingly.
- Not all communities are created equal. My experience is mainly Kismet/Fair Harbor/Saltaire, and a quick trip to Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach, a bigger community than Kismet/Fair Harbor/Saltaire, is not quite as laid back and was described to me as the 'Land of No'. And it is....No eating or drinking past this point, no riding bicycles on weekends or holidays, no frisbee on the beach, no this, no that.
- And visit this website for more information about visiting Fire Island including accommodation.