Technically this wasn’t my first trip to Fire Island—a long, stretchy island off the the coast of Long Island (everything is appropriately named in Long Island. Except the ‘fire’ part. No fire was spotted on Fire Island. Unless you count the tiki torches in beach bars where people get to work on those drinks as early as 3pm. Or is that already too late?) But technically I wasn’t anywhere near real Fire Island when I visited it in the past. Let me explain.
I’ve been to Robert Moses State Park and it’s a gorgeous little park that’s mostly all beach and very little park and it’s located on Fire Island. You can get to this ‘park’ by driving over picturesque bridges. This is a important because you can drive to Robert Moses, but you cannot actually drive anywhere on Fire Island proper. It’s like this magical place with villages and people living there and functioning without cars. Yeah, surreal. But also heavenly. The only way to get to the villages on Fire Island is to take a ferry from one of the two locations in Long Island. Or walk from Robert Moses State Park which is theoretically possible, but completely impractical considering the two mile trek through sand that would entail.
I like Robert Moses State Park well enough, but this summer we decided to be adventurous and actually take the ferry to one of the villages on Fire Island. We chose the main village, Ocean Beach, because it seemed like a good starting point and set off in the middle of the week for a day trip. Day trips in the middle of the week are really the best because it always feels a little bit like cheating when you get to a really nice place and there are no crowds.
We were greeted by this Fire Island dog as soon as we embarked off the ferry ;).
The center square of Ocean Beach with shops and cafes and bars. We had very decent lunch at Castaway Bar & Grill at some point that included baked oysters and fish & chips, all of which did not last long enough to have their picture taken. I always get this feral hunger every time I come back from the beach.
How cozy and beautiful are these streets? The island is literally two blocks wide. Like you walk two blocks and you’re on the other end of the island. I think I was pretty much screaming quietly into my hand (because wow, don’t want to disturb all that tranquility) from delight the whole time I was walking. Be right back, packing my stuff and moving to an island that has a speed limit of 5 mph.
The beach itself was really wonderful as well. Look at that pristine, blue water! It was almost like we weren’t on the East Coast anymore.
The waves were really strong and I *almost* chickened out from going into the water. But you know, I took a ferry and all to get there. I HAD to go in for a quick swim. Girlfriend was too busy napping to go with me. I get double achievement points for going in all alone, right? Never mind that there were ten kids around me, fearlessly going in and out like the ocean with its enormous, crashing waves was nothing more than a plastic pool.
Don’t mind me! My hair is a mess. I’m incapable of not looking like a mess while on the beach.
Hey, we don’t need cars but gorgeous, white churches are indispensable.
There isn’t actually all that much to do in Ocean Beach except be on the beach. Or at a bar. But we chose the former because the beach is magnificent. At some point we got to see a pack of dolphins swim by which reminded me of our time at Acadia National Park when we also saw dolphins. They’re technically not dolphins, but porpoises which are actually toothed whales who look like dolphins. I’m just as confused as you’re probably, but the point here I think is that they are incredible and it’s incredible to spot them in the wild, just swimming peacefully in that endless void of menacing water.
We took the very last ferry back home with the explicit purpose of catching a sunset and it worked out perfectly. Until next time Fire Island, and maybe we’ll visit Cherry Grove instead for that gay bar scene.