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Why Do People Visit Fire Island?

Why Do People Visit Fire Island?

Fire Island brings up visions of tropical drinks and gently flowing volcanoes like in Hawaii.

But, islands aren’t just in the tropics. In fact, there’s an island not far off the coast of Long Island, New York, that just might surprise you.

Let’s discover why Fire Island might be worth putting on your travel bucket list. 

What Is Fire Island, and Where Is It? 

Fire Island is just a short trip from New York City. The island runs parallel to the south shore of Long Island. The 31-mile stretch refers to a series of islands separated over time during hurricanes such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

It spans 9.6 square miles and is only two to three blocks wide, making it very easy to navigate. 

What Fire Island Is Known for and Why People Visit It

Fire Island is known for its beautiful, clean beaches that are great for both families and couples. There’s a laid-back atmosphere that lends itself well to getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll find 18 distinct communities as you explore.

Each offers its own perspective, making this island an excellent fit for everyone. A well-known LGBTQ+ resort, Cherry Grove, also exists on the island.

Many visit the island solely for the resort.

Fire Island beach and lighthouse.
Relax on the beautiful, clean beaches of Fire Island.

Why Is It Called Fire Island?

The name “Fire Island” dates back to a deed in 1789. Some say the name came from a misinterpretation of a Dutch word meaning five, referring to the number of islands in the area.  

Another theory is that the island’s name came from the fires set by pirates to lure in unsuspecting ships. Perhaps the name comes from how the island looks during autumn from afar. Still, others believe the name comes from the red rash caused by poison ivy found on the island. 

Pro Tip: Spending the night in New York City? Before you pitch your tent, read up on Is Camping in Central Park Okay?

Can You Drive to Fire Island?

Yes, you can drive onto Fire Island. In fact, two roads access it from Long Island. The Robert Moses Causeway lies on the western end, while the William Floyd Parkway lies on the eastern end.

Visitors may also access the island via boat, ferry, and seaplane. 

Woman walking dog by the Fire Island lighthouse.
Take in the NYC skyline from the top of the Fire Island Lighthouse.

What to Do on Fire Island

Those looking to visit Fire Island won’t find any lack of things to do. The island is a complete destination all on its own. Here are a few of the most loved activities on Fire Island. 

This 875-acre state park sits in Suffolk County on the western end of Fire Island. The park is most known for having a five-mile beach along the Atlantic Ocean.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to spend the night camping on the beach, make sure to not do one of The Don’ts of Beach Camping.

Robert Moses State Park

Robert Moses state park has a beautiful beachfront that attracts nearly 3.8 million visitors each year. It’s easily accessible by car or the Babylon train station and a bus connection.

Here at the park, you can swim, boogie board, surf, and enjoy some surf-fishing. If you’re looking for somewhere to cool off on a hot summer day, Robert Moses State Park is a great place to do it. 

Fire Island Lighthouse

If you love checking out lighthouses, you’ll love Fire Island Lighthouse. This structure is visible on the Great South Bay and sits within Fire Island National Seashore. It’s just to the east of Robert Moses State Park and open year-round.

If you’re traveling with anyone who enjoys history, nature, climbing lighthouses, or the beach, the Fire Island Lighthouse is for you. Long Island is home to more than 20 lighthouses. At 168 feet, the Fire Island Lighthouse is the tallest of all the lighthouses on the island.

For $10, you can climb to the top of the lighthouse and have a unique view of the New York City skyline.

However, the $10 tour fee will seem like nothing compared to the 182 steps to the top.

Sunken Forest

This forest is open from May to October and requires a ferry trip from Sayville to Sailors Haven. The New York Natural Heritage Program rates the Sunken Forest “globally rare,” which means there are few other occurrences of an ecological phenomenon like it. Certainly, this makes for an excellent stop.

The forest is about 0.25 miles wide and 1.5 miles long.

It takes about 45 minutes to follow the path through the forest and take in the various plants, trees, shrubs, American Holly, and catbrier.

Sailors Haven

You can chain together a visit to the Sunken Forest and Sailors Haven. To get here, you’ll have to take a ferry or private boat, or you can walk. There are often ranger-guided tours; you can walk through the Sunken Forest, fish, swim, or search the beach for seashells.

The National Park Service has a visitor center where they’ll stamp your passport.

Or you can pick up a souvenir and check out the fish tanks and other exhibits to learn more about the island.

Best Time to Visit Fire Island

As the island lies in the northeast, the best time to visit is during the summer months. If you want to make the best use of the long, hot summer days, plan your visit for June-August. 

Those hoping to enjoy lower crowds will still find an enjoyable experience in both the spring and fall months. Spring flowers and beautiful autumn leaves are good reasons to enjoy this island at off-peak times. 

Welcome to Fire Island

While Fire Island does provide an escape for the residents of Long Island and Manhattan, it’s an equally great travel destination for travelers from around the country.

This easy-to-navigate island has the perfect blend of parks, great dining, nightlife, and tranquil beaches.

Have you had the opportunity to explore this northern island vacation destination?

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

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  1. Edwin E Christensen says:

    I’m from Yardley,PA which is a central part of our countries ‘turning point’ of revolutionary history. However your Fire Island visit showed me a great weekend visit with some exercise involved, thank you. I’m 79 years young, no longer a camper, however always enjoyed another adventure.