For the last several years during the summer, I have traveled to Fire Island, off the coast of New York, about 2 hours outside New York City. And usually when I tell people where I’m going, they ask, “Where is that?” Well, here’s a map.
Fire Island has several communities, but the ones my friends and I frequent the most are the Pines and Cherry Grove, both extremely gay friendly. Fire Island is also a nationally protected seashore. Getting to the Pines or Cherry Grove is a bit of a challenge. Once landing in NYC, you go to Jamaica Station and catch the LIRR (Long Island Railroad) to Sayville. The LIRR will run you $10.25-$14 each way depending on the time of day you travel. At the train station in Sayville, you can catch a shuttle bus for $7 that takes you to the Sayville Ferry. The Sayville Ferry to Fire Island Pines or Cherry Grove will cost you $8.25 one-way or $16 roundtrip. The ferry takes 20 minutes to travel from Sayville to Fire Island Pines or Cherry Grove. And then, finally, you have arrived in paradise.
You’ll notice on the ferry that many people are bringing a plethora of food and drink. Typically people rent a house for a week or a season and although Fire Island Pines has a grocery store, it should be used for must need or forgotten items since the store can be quite pricey. The one thing you need on Fire Island is a great pair of shoes because there are no cars. You must walk everywhere you go, although there is a water taxi that can take you between communities. However, they stop running late at night and if you miss your water taxi, you’re in for a long walk along the beach.
Of course, once you arrive on Fire Island. You’ll pick up your keys and seek out the house you have rented. Fire Island Pines has a series of wooden walks like you see below. There are no streets. None. A few dirt roads, but for the most part, everyone travels Fire Island by foot and on these wooden walkways scattered all over the island.
We rented a beautiful place on the bay side, versus the beach side. 524 Snapper Walk. Definitely the best house we have ever had. Check out the link to see more pics. Each bedroom boasted a beautiful view along with our own private pool, a hot tub, and a small private beach in front of the house.
A house on the bay affords sunsets like this. I think we watched the sun set every night. It was simply gorgeous. People gather around and take in its beauty, with a glass of wine, of course. We even had some young students near us come out with a ukulele and sing as they watched the sun set.
I have to say the sun rises were just as beautiful, although you had to be awake around 5am to enjoy them. It’s a great time for some solitude on the beach. When I took this photo, it was only me and a couple on the beach. The couple left before the sunrise, so I had that section of beach to myself and enjoyed one of the most stunning views one can see.
Sun rises bring me to the beach, and oh what a beautiful beach it is on Fire Island Pines. But I should warn you, if you have an aversion to nudity, the beach on Fire Island Pines may not be for you. While Fire Island Pines is not a nude beach, nudity is common and police turn a blind eye. So if your are less inhibited, let it all hang out. If you are more inhibited, Cherry Grove may be for you. It’s more family oriented.
But as with any great vacation, it eventually comes to an end and you must return to the real word. Be sure to get to the boat dock early because as you can see below, people start lining up their luggage to reserve their place in the boarding line to catch the ferry back to Sayville. The ferries run constantly, usually hourly, so you can take your time returning home.
I hope you enjoy stay at Fire Island Pines as much as I have over the years.
All photos by David Shankbone licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.
All other photos are by Hank Mendheim. All Rights Reserved. (C)2015 Hank Mendheim