Fire Island is a popular destination for day-trippers and vacationers. Across the Great South Bay, the hot spot welcomes young singles, the LGBTQ+ community and families who come to relax on beaches and roam car-free communities. There are restaurants, nightspots, shops and natural wonders to explore.
"It's a little vacation on Long Island," says Arianna Zee, 31, of Hicksville, who frequents Flynn's in Ocean Bay Park.
And while its communities are bustling come summer, locals say the season is slowly expanding, with explorers visiting into September.
“People come out to celebrate the holidays. Everything is still pretty much open on weekends,” says Steven Annicharico, who owns Ocean Beach Hardware, known for its bike and wagon rentals. Annicharico, who lives in Ocean Beach seasonally, has spent summers in the area since he was 12 years old.
“It’s an awesome place to go for a bike ride, go for ice cream, sit by the dock; that’s my memories,” he says.
Here is a guide to what Fire Island has to offer.
Get to Fire Island communities from ferry terminals in Bay Shore, Sayville or Patchogue. A tip for those in a hurry: The Fire Island mTickets app will help you secure your ticket before you leave the house.
Fire Island Ferries
Fire Island Ferries in Bay Shore serves Kismet, Saltaire, Dunewood, Atlantique, Fair Harbor, Ocean Beach, Seaview and Ocean Bay Park. Drive and park in nearby paid lots. The closest Long Island Rail Road stop is Bay Shore. Round-trip ferry fares are $25 ($13 ages 2 to 11). (99 Maple Ave., Bay Shore, 631-665-3600, fireislandferries.com)
Those going to Cherry Grove, Fire Island Pines or Sailors Haven take the Sayville Ferry. Park in nearby paid lots or take the LIRR to Sayville. Round-trip fares to Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines are $20 ($11 ages 2-11); round-trip fares to Sailors Haven are $18 ($10 ages 2-11) and $3 for leashed dogs. (41 River Rd., 631-589-0810, sayvilleferry.com)
Davis Park Ferry
Visitors to Davis Park or Watch Hill take the Davis Park Ferry in Patchogue, where they can drive to a paid parking lot. Round-trip fares are $20 ($13 ages 2-11) and $6.75 for leashed dogs. (80 Brightwood St., 631-475-1665, davisparkferry.com)
Fire Island Water Taxi
There are two ways to use the water taxi: laterally, going from town-to-town between 17 Fire Island communities, and cross-bay, from Bay Shore (Maple Avenue) to points between Kismet and Point O’ Woods. Rates start at $10 for a one-way ticket. Pricing for the latter varies. Before 9 p.m., expect to pay $200 for up to six people; after 9 p.m., rates reach $235 for up to six people. Each additional person is $17.50. (631-665-8885, fireislandwatertaxi.com)
Ocean Beach is a popular destination for day-trippers who come to hit the beach or roam the shops and restaurants. The area has a strict village code, with rules against eating on the beach. No coolers or picnics are permitted. Visitors may bring a transparent plastic water bottle or drink from the public water fountain in the village.
THINGS TO DO IN OCEAN BEACH
The main square is dotted with shops to browse and restaurants to grab a bite.
The store motto at Kline's is "everything for the beach and you." Here, you'll find Fire Island-branded apparel, beach essentials (toys, towels, Boogie boards) and souvenirs. (167 Bay Walk, 631-583-5333)
Hanalei and Kula's
For beachy dresses, sterling silver and shell jewelry, try Hanalei and Kula's. The shop features an eclectic mix of merchandise — clothing, specialty perfumes, jewelry, spa products and gift items. (472 Dehnhoff Walk, 631-583-8302; hanaleiandkulas.com)
Ocean Beach Hardware
This shop rents out bikes for the day (starting at $35) or the week ($125) for those looking to explore the area. Wagon rentals ($35 per day) and beach chairs ($22) are also available. (482 Bayberry Walk, 631-583-5826; oceanbeachhardware.com)
For dessert, Scoops is a choice spot for Hershey's ice cream. Popular flavors include mint chip, cappuccino crunch with coffee, fudge and toffee pieces, and moose tracks, with vanilla, fudge chunks and peanut butter cups. Customers can also get milkshakes and ice cream floats, discounted from $9 to $5.50 each on Wednesdays. (310 Bay Walk, 631-583-8218, scoopsob.com)
The Ice Castle Sweet Shoppe
Candy is plentiful here, but there's also fudge, acai bowls, ice cream and ices, DIY ice cream cookie sandwiches, bubble waffles, milkshakes and more. (319 Bay Walk, 631-583-0225, icecastlefireislan.wixsite.com)
WHERE TO EAT IN OCEAN BEACH
Here are some of the area's places to eat for those looking for sit-down dining or a grab-and-go snack.
For breakfast, stop in for a slice of Rachel’s famous crumb cake and a cappuccino. The spot serves lunch and dinner in an airy dining room. (325 Bay Walk, 631-583-9552; rachelsfireisland.com)
Along with a prime bay view, Island Mermaid serves up creative versions of fish house classics. Crab cakes come with jasmine rice and beurre blanc. Pan-roasted scallops are served with potatoes and truffled creamed corn. (780 Bay Walk, 631-583-8088; islandmermaid.com)
Maguire's Bayfront Restaurant
The restaurant offers its signature "Lobsterpalooza" (three-course dinner with either a 1 1/4-pound lobster or prime rib main with sides for $34) every Thursday. (1 Bungalow Walk, 631-583-8800, maguiresbayfrontrestaurant.com)
The Sand Bar
Look up and you'll see a ceiling covered with tiny wagons and colorful flip-flops at this bar offering live music and theme parties like Christmas and St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the summer months. Menu items include burgers, wraps, nachos, salads and wings. (470 Bay Walk, 631-583-0388)
The menu includes agave margaritas, birria tacos and Mexican street corn. (310 Bay Walk, 631-583-5700, tacobeach.com)
Castaway Bar and Grill
Castaway’s dining room has a teal and tan color scheme and makes a chic-for-OB statement, with hanging beehive wicker lamps and surfboards on the wall. It has a seafood-leaning menu. (927 Evergreen Walk, 631-583-0330, castawaybarandgrill.com)
In business for more than 50 years, the casual CJ's, dubbed "home of the rocket fuel," has a menu of starters, like nachos, wings and tacos; lobster rolls (hot and chilled); sandwiches (pulled pork sliders, shrimp po'boy, burgers) and salads. (479 Bay Walk, 631-583-9890, cjsfireisland.com)
If you're looking for a quick bite, this spot has pizza at the ready by the slice or whole pies, from the basics like regular or Sicilian to the more adventurous like the "everything," featuring meatballs, sausage and mushrooms. Also find panini, rolls, pasta, chicken dishes and hero sandwiches. (786 Evergreen Walk, 631-583-0387, beacheriaob.com)
WHERE TO STAY IN OCEAN BEACH
Visitors looking to spend the night can book a stay at a hotel within a short walk to the beach.
The Palms Hotel Fire Island
The hotel lobby, tavern and 14 guest rooms have been renovated this season. Guests at the hotel receive a “Palms Passport,” to be used for discounts at food establishments within the ownership group on Fire Island (The Landing, Castaway, Taco Beach and Baywalk Café). Rates start at $404 a night for full bed Mondays to Thursdays and $525 Fridays to Sundays. (168 Cottage Walk, 631-583-8870, palmshotelfireisland.com)
Decorated in nautical navy and white to evoke a sailor’s rooming house, this hotel offers rooms with shared baths as well as suites that can accommodate a family of four. A continental breakfast is included in the rate (Sundays to Thursdays: $229 a night; Fridays and Saturdays: $650 with two-night minimum) and bicycles, beach chairs and umbrellas are also provided. (478 Bayberry Walk, 631-583-9292, cleggshotel.com)
Blue Waters Hotel
The boutique hotel features 20 rooms and access to bikes and chairs for the beach. Weekday room rates start at $250; weekends start at $600, with a two-night minimum. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary breakfast served daily (coffee, pancakes, French toast, fruit salad, cereal) on the roof deck. (642 Bayberry Walk, 631-583-8295, bluewatershoteloceanbeachfireisland.com)
Ocean Bay Park is a magnet for people looking for a good time with water sports during the day and restaurants hosting live entertainment at night. Use caution when swimming; there are no lifeguards on duty at Ocean Bay Park's beach.
WHAT TO DO IN OCEAN BAY PARK
Fire Island Parasail
Cruise along the Great South Bay via parasail, tube or charter boat. The parasailing excursion is one hour, with 12 minutes of airtime. Takeoff and landing are from the boat, so getting wet is optional. One parasail can hold up to three people; $89 a person. Tubing (up to four people) and boating, both an hour, cost $95 and $55, respectively. For those who want to observe these experiences from the boat, which holds up to 10 people, the cost is $25. All activities are offered daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations required. (1 Cayuga St., 631-988-8445, fireislandparasail.com)
The Moon Chaser
An alternative to a day trip is taking the Moon Chaser cruise to Flynn's for dinner. Meet at the Bait and Tackle Shop on the far east end of Captree State Park Tuesday through Thursday at 7 p.m. for departure to the restaurant. The 45-minute cruise costs $17 round-trip. Dinner is an additional $53 and reservations must be made in advance. (3500 Ocean Pkwy., Babylon, 631-265-1848, themoonchaser.com)
OBP Bike Shop
Rent a bike to explore for $35 for the day; $150 for the week. (1 Champlain Walk, 631-583-5111, obpbikes.com)
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN OCEAN BAY PARK
Flynn’s remains the center of Ocean Bay Park nightlife and the spot also offers a boisterous daytime scene. Sunday Funday features DJs and live music. Returning events this season include family-friendly weekday happy hour (Monday through Friday 5 to 8 p.m.) where kids eat free, plus half-price appetizers and drinks, Saturday DJ dance parties and Sunday Funday parties. (1 Cayuga St., 631-583-5000, flynnsfireislandny.com)
The Schooner Inn
The eatery has its own beach, a pizzeria and two bars. The restaurant, with outdoor seating, serves fried calamari, Buffalo wings and linguine with clam sauce. (57 Bay View Walk, 631-583-8498; schoonerinnfireisland.com)
Dino's on the Bay
For those wanting something in the grab-and-go vein, Dino's menu is packed with quick bites like pizza, sandwiches, burgers, salads, quesadillas, chicken nuggets and wings. Breakfast items include omelets and bagels. Outside seating only. (44 E. Bayview Walk, 631-583-7916)
WHERE TO STAY IN OCEAN BAY PARK
Fire Island Beach House
Guests can take a dip in the pool at this 38-room Fire Island retreat. The hotel also has lawn games like cornhole, lounge areas and live music/DJs on weekends. Events held for guests include movie nights, lobster bakes and BBQ nights on select dates. Guests and visitors can grab cocktails and bites at the hotel restaurant, Canes. Queen rooms start at $425. (25 Cayuga Walk, 631-583-8000, thefibh.com)
Cherry Grove has a long history as a Bohemian summer retreat. Vacationers of all stripes love the Grove for its colorful drag shows, lively nightlife and down-to-earth vibe.
WHAT TO DO IN CHERRY GROVE
Cherry's on the Bay
Known for its live entertainment, Cherry's serves lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends. The eatery also hosts Bingo and trivia nights, DJ parties and drag shows. No cover charge. (158 Bayview Walk, 631-597-7859, cherrysonthebay.com)
The Ice Palace
The nightclub has long been a destination for partiers, but expect a different experience this summer as a new ownership group has revamped the venue and its adjoining Grove Hotel. Now called Ice Palace 23, the structure, décor, lighting and sound have all been upgraded. This long-running LGBTQ+ nightspot has entertainment all summer season. There are events most nights plus a dog-friendly “Yappy Hour” Tuesdays and Thursdays (4 to 6 p.m.) where pooches can play in a kiddie pool while their dog parents try signature espresso-inspired cocktails. (1 Main Walk, 631-597-6600, icepalace.club)
The Cherry Grove Community House and Theater
The Cherry Grove Community House and Theater is on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can catch a comedy show in August by Jonathan Tolins with Jack Bartholet called “Buyer & Cellar," a Matt Baney production called "75 and Counting" and more. (180 Bayview Walk, artsprojectcg.org)
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN CHERRY GROVE
Sand Castle On The Ocean
There aren’t many spots closer to the Atlantic Ocean than The Sand Castle On The Ocean, as the destination is only footsteps from the shoreline. The venue is getting guests even closer to the water this season with a new tent on the beach. Guests can dine on the sand and enjoy live music on the weekends. Reservations are encouraged; the kitchen is closed Wednesdays, but the bar is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (106 Lewis Walk, 631-597-4174, fireislandsandcastle.com)
Top of the Bay Bistro
The bistro is a New American spot, serving roasted eggplant and braised short ribs, accompanied by spectacular sunsets. (1 Dock Walk, 631-597-6028, topofthebaycherrygrove.com)
WHERE TO STAY IN CHERRY GROVE
The Grove Hotel
The Grove Hotel, a town fixture since 1957, now has more spacious guest rooms and a familiar lineup of entertainment in its nightclub, the Ice Palace. Weekday rooms start at $200; weekends at $500. (1 Ocean Walk, 631-597-6600, grovehotel.com)
Belvedere Guest House for Men
The most architecturally distinctive lodging on Fire Island may be the Venetian-inspired Belvedere Guest House for Men. Rooms in the palatial structure range from economy (four to a room with a shared bath) to luxury (water views, king bed, private bath). Rooms start at $245 Mondays to Thursdays; $449 Fridays and Saturdays; and $265 Sundays. (33 Bayview Walk, 631-597-6448, belvederefireisland.com)
Dune Point, an adult-only oceanfront guesthouse, has rooms and suites with kitchenettes. Book a room Sunday to Thursday starting at $299 a night and Friday or Saturday for $450 a night. (134 Lewis Walk, 631-597-6261, dunepoint.com)
A little quieter than Cherry Grove, it still offers plenty of opportunities for socializing by the sea.
WHAT TO DO IN THE PINES
The Pavilion nightclub is the community’s primary night (and day) spot, and includes indoor and outdoor bars, terraces and a dance floor. There's a $10-$25 cover charge (drag shows, DJ, etc.); no cover on Tuesdays and Fridays. (36 Fire Island Blvd., 631-597-6500, pinesfi.com/pavilion)
The adjacent Sip-n-Twirl lounge and club has a dance floor, breezy outdoor deck and no cover charge. The venue hosts a weekly Latin party called "Baila Conmigo," at 10 p.m. on Fridays. (36 Fire Island Blvd., 631-597-3599, pinesfi.com/sipntwirl)
Shop at Tola for beach-inspired things for the home and clothes and accessories for men, women and children. (Harbor Walk, 631-597-5525, tolanewyork.com)
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN THE PINES
Canteen is a casual spot a few steps above Harbor Walk, great for a light breakfast, lunch or dinner with a side of people-watching. (Harbor Walk, 631-597-6500, pinesfi.com/canteen)
Pines Bistro & Martini Bar
Pines Bistro & Martini Bar is an elegant Italian place on the second floor of a Fire Island Boulevard building and above the crowds. (36 Fire Island Blvd., 631-597-6862, pinesfi.com/pinesbistro)
The Blue Whale
People visiting this hamlet will find The Taco Truck serving tacos and empanadas (open daily 4 to 8 p.m.) at the Blue Whale. (Harbor Walk; 631-597-6500, pinesfi.com/bluewhale)
The westernmost community on Fire Island is a nature lover’s paradise.
WHAT TO DO IN KISMET
Robert Moses State Park and the Fire Island Lighthouse
Day-trippers who want to explore Kismet can park at Field 5 of Robert Moses State Park for $10 (631-669-0449, parks.ny.gov), enjoy the beach, and then stroll the boardwalk nature trail that leads from Field 5 to the iconic Fire Island Lighthouse (631-321-7028, fireislandlighthouse.com).
Too tired to walk back? Fire Island Pedicab offers rides pulled by a bike rider (516-402-4175) back and forth from Robert Moses along the Burma Road to the lighthouse for $5 a person each way, or back and forth to Kismet for $10 a person each way. Visit the Fire Island Pedicab booth at Field 5 or call/text for a ride back.
WHERE TO EAT IN KISMET
The Kismet Inn has been a community gathering place for decades. Serving a crowd-pleasing menu that includes everything from seafood and burgers to chili dogs, it overlooks the bay and marina and is open seven days for lunch and dinner in the summer. (1 Oak St., 631-583-5592; thekismetinn.swamponline.com)
The mustard and teal dining room at this eatery evokes a retro '70s So-Cal vibe. Formally the location of Surf's Out, which closed in 2021, Dive is a beach bar serving up everything from sushi to tacos. Menu items to try include frozen drinks like the strawberry daiquiri, Miami Vice and Rocket Fuel. If you're coming for food, try the sushi, lobster roll with hot-shallot herb butter or cold-tarragon aioli, the vegan big mac or spicy Korean mussels with sweet and spicy gochujang. (1 Bay Walk; 631-583-7400, divekismet.com)
WHERE TO STAY IN KISMET
Spend the day into the night in Kismet and book an overnight stay where you can rent a bike and explore the area throughout your visit.
Overlooking the Great South Bay, this hotel features 11 rooms (10 waterfront, one in the garden) starting at $495 (weekdays) and $575 (weekends) with a three-night minimum. Bike rentals are $30 a day. Nearby activities include access to a tennis court, parasailing and wine tasting. (110 E. Lighthouse Walk, 833-342-6283, fireislandbeachrentals.com)
This community is comprised of one of the largest marinas on Fire Island, holding up to 250 boats.
WHAT TO DO IN DAVIS PARK
Davis Park Marina
Leja Beach has lifeguards throughout the season. If you have a boat, the Davis Park Marina is a place to dock. No fee to visit the beach. (Dune Walk, 631-597-9090; davisparkmarina.com)
The Harbor Store
The shop supplies groceries, snacks, beer and wine. Deli sandwiches on the menu include Bronx Bomber, with ham, melted American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and onions on a toasted hero and The New Yorker, with hot pastrami, melted Swiss, lettuce, tomatoes and onions with mustard on a toasted hero. (5 Trustees Walk, 631-597-6956; theharborstore.com)
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN DAVIS PARK
Davis Park's sole restaurant, this spot serves dinner starting at 4:30 p.m. daily. The Casino Bar, sibling of the Café, features indoor and outdoor bars and weekly entertainment. (1 Dune Walk, 631-597-6150; casinocafefireisland.com)
WHERE TO STAY IN DAVIS PARK
With so few homes, rentals are scarce. Your best bet is to browse short-term rental sites early in the season.
This small incorporated village doesn't have hotels, has very little shopping and one restaurant, at the members-only Saltaire Yacht Club. For those lucky enough to rent a house there early in the season, the area offers basketball courts and tennis for residents. Most of Saltaire is built on wetlands, so there are no concrete sidewalks, only wooden boardwalks, making it a particularly picturesque place for walking.
WHAT TO DO IN SALTAIRE
The Saltaire Library in Village Hall hosts frequent children’s story hours and other events, like adult author talks and readings. (103 Broadway, 631-583-5566, saltairecamp.com/library)
West of Saltaire, visitors can take a 15-minute walk to Kismet Beach to soak up the sun. Head the opposite direction to hang at Fair Harbor Beach.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN SALTAIRE
Saltaire Yacht Club
The only restaurant is at the Saltaire Yacht Club, which is a social hub. It’s open only to members and their guests, but renters are eligible to join. (105-107 Marine Walk, 631-583-5117; saltaireyc.com)
In addition to selling groceries, Saltaire Market has a full takeout menu, everything from penne alla vodka to seafood as well as pizza by the pie and slice. (100 Broadway Rd, 631-583-5522; saltairemarket.org)
The ferry to Sailors Haven lets visitors off at the Visitor Center (Fire Island National Seashore, Sayville, 631-597-6183, nps.gov/fiis). Unlike some other Fire Island destinations, Sailors Haven is not a fully developed community, but is a just shy of a mile walk to Cherry Grove where you can find shops and hotels.
WHAT TO DO IN SAILORS HAVEN
What the area does offer is the Sunken Forest National Park, with a 1.6-mile, snaking, boardwalk trail. 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.
Kids can complete the free, self-guided National Park Service Junior Ranger Program and earn a badge by picking up a booklet at the Visitor Center and completing the activities.
The beach area itself — which has lifeguards — offers restrooms and a dozen outdoor showers to rinse off the sand. Pets are not allowed in Sailors Haven.
WHERE TO GRAB A QUICK BITE IN SAILORS HAVEN
For small bites, the General Store sells ice cream, toiletries, shirts, sunscreen, towels, coolers and other family-friendly fare. The Sassyfrass Cafe sells hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken fingers. (631-597-6014).
If you're looking for a restaurant or hotel, walk to neighboring communities like Cherry Grove.
If you want a quiet beach day, try Fair Harbor. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Labor Day at ocean and bay beaches. Bathrooms are centrally located with handicap accessibility ramps on the central walkway. The hamlet has a market, a restaurant and pizzeria, as well as a fire department and EMS.
THINGS TO DO IN FAIR HARBOR
Corliss Bike & Supply
Find daily bike rentals for $25; fat tire bike rentals for riding on the sand are $50 daily; kayaks or stand-up paddleboard rentals are $35 for two hours. (62 Bay Walk, 631-583-5769, corlissbikeandsupply.com)
The grocery store (21 Broadway, 631-583-8435, pioneermarket.net) makes deli sandwiches in the back of the store. Unfriendly’s, the window adjacent to Pioneer Market, 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 through August. Open weekends only starting in September.
WHERE TO EAT IN FAIR HARBOR
The only sit-down restaurant offers indoor and outdoor dining opposite the ferry dock with sunset views. During the summer the restaurant hosts events like trivia nights on Mondays, lobster night on Wednesdays, live music (Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays) and brunch (Saturdays and Sundays). (60 Bay Walk, 631-583-5200, ledockrestaurant.com).
Le Pizza at Le Dock
If you want some food to go, order a slice or a pie (gluten free available), pinwheels or garlic knots from Le Pizza at Le Dock (631-583-5397).
-Additional reporting by Scott Vogel, Joann Vaglica and Kristen Sullivan, Ian J. Stark and Beth Whitehouse.