A long weekend or a daycation -- this extension of Long Island is a beach lovers' paradise. Fire Island is a short ferry ride summer destination. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Steve and Barbara Maieli packed up a wagon with a beach blanket, boogie boards, and kids' shovels one recent Tuesday and took a ferry from Sayville to Fire Island’s Sailor’s Haven for a daycation escape with their three sons, ages 7, 5, and 3.

“We decided to just come out and have a relaxing day,” says Steve Maieli, 44, who lives in Sayville and works for the state Department of Labor. “You don’t have to worry about traffic, you just park in Sayville and take the ferry. It’s perfect for families.”

There’s still time to explore Fire Island before kids head back to school around Labor Day weekend. Here are a few ways families can make the most of a day on the barrier island:

SAILORS HAVEN/SUNKEN FOREST (Sayville Ferry Service, 41 River Rd., 631-589-0810, sayvilleferry.com)

The ferry to Sailors Haven lets visitors off at the Visitor Center (631-597-6183, nps.gov/fiis), General Store (631-597-6014, lovefins.com), and snack bar that sells hamburgers, chicken nuggets, ice cream and other family-oriented fare. Unlike some other Fire Island destinations, Sailors Haven is not a town community; it doesn’t offer multiple shops, restaurants or houses.

What it does offer is the Sunken Forest, a 1.6-mile, snaking, boardwalk trail from bayfront to ocean beach and back. It’s not actually sunken; it’s called the Sunken Forest because its trees only grow as high as the nearby dunes due to the ocean’s salt spray that naturally prunes them, says Nick Clemons, chief of interpretation, education and volunteers for the Fire Island National Seashore. See American Holly, Sassafras, Juneberry, oaks and black cherry, all trees that have a thicker coating that can withstand the salt spray, Clemons says. Rangers give free guided tours on weekdays and weekends, check the website for times.

Kids can complete the National Park Service Junior Ranger Program and earn a badge by picking up a booklet at the Visitor Center and completing the activities, Clemons says.

The beach area itself offers restrooms and a dozen outdoor showers to rinse off the sand.

OCEAN BEACH (Fire Island Ferries, 99 Maple Ave., Bay Shore, 631-665-3600, fireislandferries.com)

Ocean Beach is a go-to destination because it has everything families might need — oceanfront and bayfront with lifeguards, restaurants, beach tchotchke and T-shirt shops and ice cream stores, public bathrooms and frequent ferries. Because of all it offers, Ocean Beach can get chaotic on weekends; families might want to plan their trip for a weekday.

Beach amenities include the ability to rent chairs and umbrellas for the day at the lifeguard station at Bayberry starting at about 10 a.m.; chairs are $10 per day and umbrellas are $20, says lifeguard Kali Maroney. Lifeguards will set them up and then collect them at 4:30 p.m.

For sports entertainment, a Trangleball court is set up on the beach at Surf View with balls and QR codes on the stairs to the beach explain how to play the game, or visit trangleball.com to learn more. Otherwise, Ocean Beach is nicknamed "The Land of No" — because there's no ball playing, food, beverages (except water), alcohol, music or pets allowed on the beach. Ocean Beach police officers do patrol the beach to ensure compliance.

If parents want a date-night dinner, kids ages 12 and up can drop in to the new, free “Teenswept” supervised program at the Ocean Beach Youth Group “Windswept” building from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays to play Ping-Pong, foosball, air hockey and video games. The rec program also puts out basketball nets and balls on the tennis courts by the ferry dock starting at 6 p.m. daily and rents kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on weekends on the bay in the back of Windswept.

Have a family member who uses a wheelchair? Ocean Beach offers the ability to help them onto the beach. The lifeguard stand at Bungalow Walk has a beach wheelchair. Roll your wheelchair to the bottom of the wood ramp to the sand, have someone in your party alert the lifeguards that you’ve arrived, and they will bring a beach wheelchair to take your family member out on the sand for a day at the ocean. Ocean Beach also offers a free golf cart to help senior citizens who need assistance to the beach; go into the police station next to the ferry to sign it out.

FAIR HARBOR (Fire Island Ferries, 99 Maple Ave., 631-665-3600, fireislandferries.com)

If you want a quiet beach day, try Fair Harbor. Corliss Bike & Supply (62 Bay Walk, 631-583-5769, corlissbikeandsupply.com), which was purchased and remodeled by Nick Newman in 2020, now offers daily bike rentals for $25 and one-person kayaks or stand-up paddleboard rentals for $35 for two hours. A to-go pizza place called Le Pizza offers slices; the Pioneer Market grocery store (21 Broadway, 631-583-8435, pioneermarket.net) makes deli sandwiches in the back of the store. And then there’s Unfriendly’s — the window adjacent to Pioneer Market that sells egg sandwiches, hot or iced coffee, and fast-foods such as hamburgers, grilled cheese or acai bowls. And, of course, offers ice cream cones. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Le Dock (631-583-5200, ledockrestaurant.com), the only sit-down restaurant, offers pricier indoor and outdoor dining opposite the ferry dock with sunset views. On Wednesday nights in August, there’s a free cartoon and movie night for children at the nearby firehouse starting at 6:30 p.m., so parents could dine while children who are old enough can go to the movies. Restaurant reservations are encouraged to ensure a seat.

Fair Harbor doesn’t get many day trippers for this reason: extremely limited options for bathrooms open to the public. When lifeguards are on duty on the ocean side, there are two bathrooms open on the central walk. They are up an unmarked ramp surrounded by lush greenery that looks like private property; it’s the only ramp on the bay side of the street between Elm and Fifth walks. When lifeguards are on duty on Fair Harbor’s bay, the bathrooms should be open at the firehouse opposite the bay. The bathrooms are around the side of the firehouse.

FIRE ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE/KISMET (Park at Robert Moses State Park Field 5)

No need to take a ferry for a trip to the Fire Island Lighthouse. Park at Robert Moses Field 5 to enjoy the beach, and then take a nearly 1 mile, easy stroll along a boardwalk path starting at the eastern tip of the parking lot to arrive at the Fire Island Lighthouse (631-583-5901, fireislandlighthouse.com). The tower is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and it's $10 per adult and $5 child 12 and younger (children must be 42 inches tall). Climb the 182 steps for a panoramic view of Kismet and other Fire Island communities. A interactive museum explains the history of the lighthouse and an adjacent building houses a Fresnel lens. Kids — and grown-ups — who make the climb get a certificate that celebrates their accomplishment.

If you’re game to walk to Kismet, continue another 30 minutes on the Burma Road and turn left when you reach Kismet to walk into “town” — which consists of a couple of sit-down restaurants, a pizza place and a store that also sells sandwiches and ice cream cones. Kids may be delighted to pass a deer along the way.

Family too tired to walk back? Fire Island Pedicab offers rides pulled by an e-bike rider (516-402-4175) back and forth from Robert Moses along the Burma Road to the lighthouse for $5 per person each way, or back and forth to Kismet for $10 per person each way, says Pedicab cashier Dina Gottlieb. Visit the Fire Island Pedicab booth at Field 5 or call or text for a ride back.

Steve and Barbara Maieli packed up a wagon with a beach blanket, boogie boards, and kids' shovels one recent Tuesday and took a ferry from Sayville to Fire Island’s Sailor’s Haven for a daycation escape with their three sons, ages 7, 5, and 3.

“We decided to just come out and have a relaxing day,” says Steve Maieli, 44, who lives in Sayville and works for the state Department of Labor. “You don’t have to worry about traffic, you just park in Sayville and take the ferry. It’s perfect for families.”

Daylan Gentry, 2, plays in the water at Ocean Beach alongside...

Daylan Gentry, 2, plays in the water at Ocean Beach alongside his father Darnel, and godfather Chris Arnett. Credit: Johnny Milano/JOHNNY MILANO

There’s still time to explore Fire Island before kids head back to school around Labor Day weekend. Here are a few ways families can make the most of a day on the barrier island:

SAILORS HAVEN/SUNKEN FOREST (Sayville Ferry Service, 41 River Rd., 631-589-0810, sayvilleferry.com)

The ferry to Sailors Haven lets visitors off at the Visitor Center (631-597-6183, nps.gov/fiis), General Store (631-597-6014, lovefins.com), and snack bar that sells hamburgers, chicken nuggets, ice cream and other family-oriented fare. Unlike some other Fire Island destinations, Sailors Haven is not a town community; it doesn’t offer multiple shops, restaurants or houses.

What it does offer is the Sunken Forest, a 1.6-mile, snaking, boardwalk trail from bayfront to ocean beach and back. It’s not actually sunken; it’s called the Sunken Forest because its trees only grow as high as the nearby dunes due to the ocean’s salt spray that naturally prunes them, says Nick Clemons, chief of interpretation, education and volunteers for the Fire Island National Seashore. See American Holly, Sassafras, Juneberry, oaks and black cherry, all trees that have a thicker coating that can withstand the salt spray, Clemons says. Rangers give free guided tours on weekdays and weekends, check the website for times.

Kids can complete the National Park Service Junior Ranger Program and earn a badge by picking up a booklet at the Visitor Center and completing the activities, Clemons says.

The beach area itself offers restrooms and a dozen outdoor showers to rinse off the sand.

OCEAN BEACH (Fire Island Ferries, 99 Maple Ave., Bay Shore, 631-665-3600, fireislandferries.com)

Ocean Beach is a go-to destination because it has everything families might need — oceanfront and bayfront with lifeguards, restaurants, beach tchotchke and T-shirt shops and ice cream stores, public bathrooms and frequent ferries. Because of all it offers, Ocean Beach can get chaotic on weekends; families might want to plan their trip for a weekday.

Beach amenities include the ability to rent chairs and umbrellas for the day at the lifeguard station at Bayberry starting at about 10 a.m.; chairs are $10 per day and umbrellas are $20, says lifeguard Kali Maroney. Lifeguards will set them up and then collect them at 4:30 p.m.

For sports entertainment, a Trangleball court is set up on the beach at Surf View with balls and QR codes on the stairs to the beach explain how to play the game, or visit trangleball.com to learn more. Otherwise, Ocean Beach is nicknamed "The Land of No" — because there's no ball playing, food, beverages (except water), alcohol, music or pets allowed on the beach. Ocean Beach police officers do patrol the beach to ensure compliance.

If parents want a date-night dinner, kids ages 12 and up can drop in to the new, free “Teenswept” supervised program at the Ocean Beach Youth Group “Windswept” building from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays to play Ping-Pong, foosball, air hockey and video games. The rec program also puts out basketball nets and balls on the tennis courts by the ferry dock starting at 6 p.m. daily and rents kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on weekends on the bay in the back of Windswept.

Have a family member who uses a wheelchair? Ocean Beach offers the ability to help them onto the beach. The lifeguard stand at Bungalow Walk has a beach wheelchair. Roll your wheelchair to the bottom of the wood ramp to the sand, have someone in your party alert the lifeguards that you’ve arrived, and they will bring a beach wheelchair to take your family member out on the sand for a day at the ocean. Ocean Beach also offers a free golf cart to help senior citizens who need assistance to the beach; go into the police station next to the ferry to sign it out.

FAIR HARBOR (Fire Island Ferries, 99 Maple Ave., 631-665-3600, fireislandferries.com)

If you want a quiet beach day, try Fair Harbor. Corliss Bike & Supply (62 Bay Walk, 631-583-5769, corlissbikeandsupply.com), which was purchased and remodeled by Nick Newman in 2020, now offers daily bike rentals for $25 and one-person kayaks or stand-up paddleboard rentals for $35 for two hours. A to-go pizza place called Le Pizza offers slices; the Pioneer Market grocery store (21 Broadway, 631-583-8435, pioneermarket.net) makes deli sandwiches in the back of the store. And then there’s Unfriendly’s — the window adjacent to Pioneer Market that sells egg sandwiches, hot or iced coffee, and fast-foods such as hamburgers, grilled cheese or acai bowls. And, of course, offers ice cream cones. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Le Dock (631-583-5200, ledockrestaurant.com), the only sit-down restaurant, offers pricier indoor and outdoor dining opposite the ferry dock with sunset views. On Wednesday nights in August, there’s a free cartoon and movie night for children at the nearby firehouse starting at 6:30 p.m., so parents could dine while children who are old enough can go to the movies. Restaurant reservations are encouraged to ensure a seat.

Fair Harbor doesn’t get many day trippers for this reason: extremely limited options for bathrooms open to the public. When lifeguards are on duty on the ocean side, there are two bathrooms open on the central walk. They are up an unmarked ramp surrounded by lush greenery that looks like private property; it’s the only ramp on the bay side of the street between Elm and Fifth walks. When lifeguards are on duty on Fair Harbor’s bay, the bathrooms should be open at the firehouse opposite the bay. The bathrooms are around the side of the firehouse.

FIRE ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE/KISMET (Park at Robert Moses State Park Field 5)

No need to take a ferry for a trip to the Fire Island Lighthouse. Park at Robert Moses Field 5 to enjoy the beach, and then take a nearly 1 mile, easy stroll along a boardwalk path starting at the eastern tip of the parking lot to arrive at the Fire Island Lighthouse (631-583-5901, fireislandlighthouse.com). The tower is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and it's $10 per adult and $5 child 12 and younger (children must be 42 inches tall). Climb the 182 steps for a panoramic view of Kismet and other Fire Island communities. A interactive museum explains the history of the lighthouse and an adjacent building houses a Fresnel lens. Kids — and grown-ups — who make the climb get a certificate that celebrates their accomplishment.

If you’re game to walk to Kismet, continue another 30 minutes on the Burma Road and turn left when you reach Kismet to walk into “town” — which consists of a couple of sit-down restaurants, a pizza place and a store that also sells sandwiches and ice cream cones. Kids may be delighted to pass a deer along the way.

Family too tired to walk back? Fire Island Pedicab offers rides pulled by an e-bike rider (516-402-4175) back and forth from Robert Moses along the Burma Road to the lighthouse for $5 per person each way, or back and forth to Kismet for $10 per person each way, says Pedicab cashier Dina Gottlieb. Visit the Fire Island Pedicab booth at Field 5 or call or text for a ride back.