Fire Island
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:99 Maple Avenue, Bay Shore, NY (ferry departure)
Hours:Ferry hours vary. Call ahead for details.
Fee: Parking fees and ferry ticket prices vary. Visit for more information.
Contact:; 631-687-4750; Sailors Haven Visitor Center, 631-597-6183

Bathrooms: Ferry dock
Water/Snacks: Grocery stores are at Fair Harbor and Ocean Beach

USGS Long Island East; USGS Long Island West;

Hike along boardwalks, take a bike ride, explore the Sunken Forest, or swim, paddle, or sail the Atlantic.

Panoramic views from the lighthouse include miles of Fire Island's pristine coastline.
Photo by: istock

Fire Island is wild. Only service and emergency vehicles are allowed on the island, so the sand and cement paths and boardwalks must be navigated on foot or by bicycle. This gives the hamlets and villages on Fire Island a rustic, frontier feel. Thirty-two miles long with more than 100 miles of coastline, the island is mostly protected land that will remain undeveloped, and the options for outdoor adventure are numerous. You can swim, sail, paddle, or surf the waters, bike along boardwalks, or hike through salt marshes and forest, all within a short trek of the ferry.

Start with a visit to the Sunken Forest, a maritime woodland located on the western side of the island just past the Sailors Haven Visitor Center. This rare habitat covers 40 acres and is a magnet for hikers and bird-watchers. The holly, bayberry, shadblow, blueberry, and sassafras trees here are more than 200 years old. You can join a guided tour during summer.

Other opportunities for outdoor recreation include fishing and birdwatching. You can view egrets, herons, red-winged blackbirds, and waterfowl at the Tidal Marsh at Great South Bay, and migrating warblers and eastern towhees at Sunken Forest. From September to mid-November, hawk migration is monitored from the Fire Island Lighthouse, and the William Floyd Estate provides good opportunities for catching sight of other birds. Remember: The Watch Hill campground is a half-mile from the Davis Park Ferry. The 26 sites each include a picnic table and a grill. Leashed dogs are allowed. Appalachian Mountain Club members and their guests can stay at the Fire Island Cabin in Atlantique. The cabin features two 12-person bunkrooms and a communal kitchen. Sailboats, kayaks, and canoes are available for guests, as well as boogie boards and other types of flotation devices for kids.

Plan B:

Visit Fair Harbor, somewhat larger and more developed than Ocean Beach, or the historic Fire Island Lighthouse, which is now an observatory and museum.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Several restaurants are in Ocean Beach and Fair Harbor.


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