Just off the southern coast of Long Island, New York, a summertime haven exists for all those looking to escape reality and to find themselves on the beach with the city lost long behind them.
Widely unknown outside of New York, Fire Island attracts a diverse crowd of people: from children and families to the tan-hungry spawn of the Jersey Shore.
Fire Island Facts
- Largest Towns: Ocean Beach, Cherry Grove
- Language: English (Long Island or Jersey accent)
- Currency: Dollar / $ / USD
- Population: 292
- Time Zone: UTC-5
- Calling Code: +1
- Drives On: Sand
- Drinking Age: 21
- Drinking In Public: Tolerated, but illegal
- Drinking Tap Water: Safe
- Flushing Toilet Paper: Okay (but limit use)
- Vaccinations Required: None
- Credit Cards: Widely accepted
- Tipping: 15-20% expected at bars and restaurants
- Emergency Number: 911
Fire Island Basics
- ACCOMMODATION | Accommodation on Fire Island is absurdly overpriced. Many people opt to rent houses for a week or weekend (which can (and will) cost thousands of dollars). The hotels on the island offer up rooms usually starting at around $250 during the summer tourist season. Camping is not allowed on Fire Island or its beaches.
- FOOD | If you are into bar food, burgers, sub-par seafood, and anything fried then you will find yourself at home on Fire Island. Don’t expect to find any cheap eats (dishes are usually $15-$20) or fine dining on the island. Bring as much food from the mainland as you can and cook for yourself.
- TRANSPORTATION | Since there are no cars allowed on the Island during the summer walking is often your best option for getting around. Bikes are often included if you rent a house, but many towns lack paved roads between one another. For lazy bastards or those going many towns over the water taxi service ($10-$30 round trip) stops in each town about once an hour.
- ACTIVITIES | The primary draw of Fire Island is the beach and you would be hard-pressed to spend a day without spending some time there. Other attractions include the Fire Island Lighthouse, the Sunken Forest, the exploration of other towns, and the watching of drunken roid monkeys and spray-tanned princesses slobber over one another.
- WHEN TO GO | Officially the Fire Island season lasts from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. A handful of businesses will be open the weeks before and after these dates, but if you find yourself on the island outside this window, then you will also find yourself very alone (except for the deer).
WHAT TO DO
- THE BEACH | Go to the beach! If it wasn’t for the beach, then this place would hardly be worth mentioning in the annals of history. Grab your suit and spikeball set and get out in the sun to begin your long night of drinking early.
- THE SUNKEN FOREST | Head to the Sunken Forest in the middle of the island. The dense concentration of trees zig-zagged by a maze of boardwalks provides the illusion of being below sea level and has become one of the essential Fire Island activities for visitors to the island.
- THE FIRE ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE | Fire Island’s lighthouse is the only thing other than the beach and the sunken forest worth seeing on the island. The good news? You can see the lighthouse on your ferry ride over! But if lighthouses are your thing, then you can stroll down the island’s northern shore to the one and only landmark on the island.
- MAKE BAD DECISIONS | Most of the visitors to Fire Island are young partygoers whose sole mission is to get belligerently blackout drunk and make terrible decisions. Whether it’s paying $15 for a rocket fuel, throwing up inside a restaurant (at lunch), or assaulting a police officer, Fire Island has something for everyone.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- DEER | As exciting as it may be to see deer strolling casually through the towns stay away from them. They are riddled with Lyme disease harboring ticks.
- DRINKING | Although drinking in public is officially illegal, it is tolerated on the beaches (however, NOT in Ocean Beach). DO NOT carry drinks around inside the towns or you will be cited. The police are somewhat tolerant, but use discretion when deciding to drink in public.
- FERRIES | Make sure to read the ferry schedule very carefully, and be sure you are looking at the correct town’s schedule. This may sound simple, but I saw a surprising number of people stuck on the island overnight after misreading the ferry schedule.