Looking for a Great New York Vacation Location? Let’s Talk About Fire Island Vacation Rentals
Is Fire Island a good vacation spot? The answer is YES, of course! Why? read on! This article features a list of the best Fire Island beach towns you ought to visit on your next getaway.
Where is Fire Island?
Fire Island is the large center island that runs parallel to the South Shore of Long Island, New York. The island is famous for its peaceful, pristine beaches, centuries-old forests, laid-back beach vibe in the daytime, and extremely popular night scene.
There is an abundance of rental options on Fire Island, and it’s the perfect place for a relaxing vacation without having to go too far away from home. So let’s explore why it should be your next vacation destination!
The History of Fire Island
The island is made up of two villages and a number of hamlets. Fire Island is believed to have originally carried the Secatogues’ name: “Sitcom Hackey”. This old Secatogues’ name translates to “Land of the Secatogues”.
Originally, the island was inhabited for centuries by the Indigenous peoples before the Europeans arrived. Then, it was owned by William “Tangier” Smith in the 17th century.
The Poosepatuck Indian Reservation still resides on the island. It was originally 175 acres but due to the breaking of treaties over the years, the Reservation is now only 55 acres.
Cherry Grove was built in 1795 by Jeremiah Smith, who, it is believed, used to lure ships to their doom on the island.
The Fire Island Lighthouse was built in 1825 and was replaced in 1858. You can still visit it today!
Fire Island became an infamous “gay village” during the 1970s and was an extremely popular spot. Cherry Grove calls itself “America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town” and it still hosts an iconic LGBTQIA+ scene to this day.
Hurricane Sandy struck the island in 2012, which damaged the island by pulling out 75 feet of the dune coastline and hitting 80% of homes. However, the island scraped by with less damage than a lot of other places in the area. In fact, one of the few staunch rules on the island is that you cannot walk on the dunes in order to protect the island’s beaches.
Fire Island is a popular destination from the late spring to the early fall and residents are sparse during the winter. Most of the houses are stick-built bungalows that are built with a heavy amount of bamboo.
Now that we’ve set the scene and learned some history let’s dive into the details of why Fire Island should be your next vacation.
Davis Park, Fire Island
Davis Park is commonly referred to as the business area of Brookhaven. Along with Ocean Ridge and Leja Beach, these three hamlets make up the easternmost private community on the island. Plus, these three locations are part of the Fire Island National Seashore.
The hamlet of Davis Park is comprised of one of the largest marinas on the Island. It can hold up to 250 boats! During the summer months, every single slip will be occupied.
Right next to the marina is the Casino Café. Surprisingly, this restaurant is one of the few on fire island that offers an ocean view! So if Davis Park is your destination then make sure you grab a bite with a view.
Despite its name, there is no gambling. However, you can enjoy a leisurely dinner, some snacks, and drinks on the deck or some dancing under the summer night sky.
You cannot bring your car to Davis Park, but that’s a common theme you’ll find throughout the island. So, you can arrive by ferry from Patchogue, a private boat, or by a water taxi.
Once you arrive on the island feel free to swim in the ocean or bay, go fishing, or go for a beautiful walk on Watch Hill. It’s a great location for ocean lovers.
Kismet, Fire Island
Switching gears from the relaxing atmosphere of Davis Park on the east side of the island, we are now headed to the party hub on the west side of the island. Kismet is the New York singles scene on Fire Island.
Kismet originated as 3 communities: Seabay Beach, Lighthouse Shores, and Kismet proper. However, it is now just one community that houses about 300 homes.
This party town hosts “never-ending” happy hours, disco dancing, and house parties galore. A large amount of well-seasoned Fire Islanders visit Kismet and it’s a popular place for a group vacation rental.
There are two fantastic places to meet people in Kismet. Head to The Inn and Surf’s Out. These two bayside bars and grills are the social places to be in Kismet.
Just like Davis Park, there is a large marina in Kismet as well but it only fits 100 boats – which means it’s packed during the summer.
Even though Kismet is busy with nightlife it still has a quaint, country atmosphere. Meaning, it’s a getaway paradise to escape from the congested beaches and towns to the east.
Now, you can take the Kismet ferry line out of Bay Shore, NY or you can just park in Field 5, and walk! It’s just a short walk to the east of the lot.
Lonelyville, Fire Island
If you’re looking for more of a quiet getaway, try Lonelyville. This quaint hamlet is perfect for getting away from it all.
Lonelyville offers a laid-back environment, peace and quiet, a wide uncrowded beach, and zero commercial traffic and development. There isn’t a shop or restaurant to be found and there’s no direct ferry service.
The only way to access the town is from the Dunewood ferry. Lonelyville is an introvert’s dream location. However, if you’re more extroverted and just need a break, Lonelyville is a lovely place to do so!
Come to Lonelyville to unplug, relax and enjoy.
Ocean Bay Park, Fire Island
Ocean Bay Park is filled to the brim with share houses and fantastic beach barbecues. It’s a small town with a big personality. It truly is a great vacation spot on Fire Island!
Hit up Flynn’s Schooners or The Inn Between for fantastic dancing and drinks. Ocean Bay Park is extremely laid back and is the perfect spot for vacationers looking to party. However, there are plenty of longtime seasoned residents who enjoy the more simple stay.
Ocean Bay Park was originally a community built for retired New York City Police and Firemen – but that never really took off. Then, WWII hit and gas and international travel restrictions became prevalent, so Ocean Bay Park became the perfect getaway.
Even though Ocean Bay Park is a small town on Fire Island there is an abundance of bars, restaurants, pizza joints, ice cream parlors, a tennis court, a bike shop, and a well-stocked grocery store. They also have a direct ferry line through Fire Island Ferries from Bay Shore.
Out of the other marinas we listed above, Ocean Bay Park’s marina only has space for about 50 boats. Bring your own, hop on a water taxi or ferry, and head down to Ocean Bay Park!
If you’re an adult and you enjoy good drinks make sure you head to OBP for their Happy Hour. It’s not like a normal happy hour! It goes from 4 pm until early the next morning.
Keep in mind that alcohol on the beach is prohibited and there are no public restrooms or lifeguards. So swim at your own risk and go pee first.
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Ocean Beach, Fire Island
The Village of Ocean Beach was established in 1921. It is the heart and soul of Fire Island! Ocean Beach is a barrier island that is just south of Long Island, NY.
This village is the unofficial capital of Fire Island and it is the perfect location for vacationers of all ages. It hosts various restaurants, treasure-laden gift shops, and home-spun galleries.
Ocean Beach has successfully created the casual atmosphere, allure, and safety that a resort has to offer…without the resort! It can be a tranquil resort during the spring, fall, and winter but then it morphs into a bustling hub of life during the summer.
With the opposite energy of Lonelyville, Ocean Beach has beautiful beaches, restaurants, nightlife, movies, concerts, tennis, basketball, baseball, art shows, and even an international film festival.
This village is also home to Memorial Day and July 4th celebrations, dock concerts, taxi services, and a boat marina. Just like the other small towns on Fire Island, there are no cars during the summertime.
You can hop on the ferry from Bay Shore you can hop in a taxi, or on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). Just like all of the other small towns on Fire Island you can use water taxis to travel between islands.
Ocean Beach is the perfect place as it is a stress-free and fun-friendly town. Don’t forget to check out the serene beach, warm ocean currents and the array of water sports to be enjoyed.
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Seaview, Fire Island
Last but definitely not least on our list is Seaview. Seaview is a family-oriented community comprised of about 360 homes. It rests between the Village of Ocean Beach and Ocean Bay Park in the central region of Fire Island.
Most of the homes are occupied during the weekends from April until November, but many retirees choose to reside in Seaview throughout the summer. These summertime and year-round residents have a deep connection with the island and third and fourth generations of Seaview families are becoming commonplace.
Seaview isn’t commercial and it is extremely private. There is a spacious marina that houses 60 boats. There’s also a playground, a wading pool, six tennis courts, a baseball field, a community house, and the Server Memorial Park.
Most local events are held at the Fire Island Synagogue which acts as a community center.
This loyal town is perhaps one of the most convenient locations on Fire Island and they have one of the finest lifeguard-supervised beaches in the community.
Seaview does have a direct ferry line from Bay Shore but during the off-season, it relies heavily on the Ocean Beach Line. Like Lonelyville, Seaview is a great place to relax, unplug and spend some time with your loved ones and family.
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Transportation in Fire Island
We’ve mentioned transportation several times throughout this blog but let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it now.
One of the most common questions in regard to traveling to Fire Island is “can I bring my car?” and the answer is…yes and no.
You can drive to Robert Moses Beach and walk to the Fire Island Lighthouse, which was an important landmark for transatlantic ships coming into New York Harbor at the turn of the 1900s. For many immigrants, this historic lighthouse was the first sight of land in America! Long Island itself has more than 20 lighthouses, but the one on Fire Island is 168 feet tall which makes it the tallest!
You can also drive your car to the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness. Otis Pike Fire is the only federally designated wilderness in New York State. Yes, that means it’s a National Park!
You can drive to the east end of the park to enjoy the wilderness throughout the year.
Now, just because you can drive to these two great spots doesn’t mean you can drive on the entire island. As we’ve discussed above many island communities here do not allow cars. Bikes are the best way to explore the island!
The Ferries to Fire Island are passenger-only and have a limit on how much luggage you can bring on board. Most of the roads on Fire Island are reserved for emergency and state-owned vehicles.
There are three ferries that take about 30 minutes to reach the islands. They depart from Bay Shore, Saville, and Patchogue. These 3 ferries run regularly during the summer and more infrequently during the off-season months. If you’re planning on staying for an extended trip then you can ship some of your belongings over to the island on a freight ferry.
Bring Your Walking Shoes
Since cars are not permitted on most of the island make sure you bring good walking shoes. The Fire Island Beach Walk is a 21-mile trail that starts from Bay Shore to Fire Island and back. You can also walk the entire length of the island on the Robert Moses State Park at the western end of Fire Island until you go through Saltaire, Cherry Grove, and the Pines.
The best way to blaze your trail throughout Fire Island is by bicycle, golf cart, your own feet, or a water taxi (to get from island to island).
The Best Options for Vacationing on Fire Island
Figure out what it is you’re looking for in a vacation spot, and go from there. If you’re looking for a quiet, secluded time away from it all then try Lonelyville. If you’re looking for a party and a good time, then head over to Kismet! Or, if you want a bit of both, stay somewhere like Ocean Beach and just hop on a water taxi or your own boat to enjoy the abundance of activities these small communities have to offer.
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