It was my friend, Nora, who was the first to rave to us about Fire Island. She filled our heads with lovely images: a car-free, red-wagon-filled island with friendly deer, sunken forests, white sands, bike paths, and lazy days. I’ve wanted to go ever since she claimed the beaches to be her favorite. We thought this August might be our chance, but when I started looking into rentals, I fell victim to sticker-shock. Summer rentals on an island this idyllic, so close to the city, cost a pretty penny! But in the course of doing my research, I learned that a day trip–while a bit ambitious–wasn’t out of the question.
Last Saturday, after a late night of games with friends, we ambled onto the L-train in a bit of a daze around 7am, switching to the LIRR and changing trains just once. We felt like we’d found the party train; the Montauk line was filled with excited, chatty beach-goers and, fortunately, the spirit was infectious (just the caffeine-kick we needed). At Bayshore, we caught the ferry to Kismet, taking in the views of the sound as we pulled into the dock.
It was a gorgeous day–nothing but sun–and we immediately felt worlds away from the city: the only thing taller than the trees appeared to be the lighthouse.
Aron had arranged bike rentals with a local named Joe the night before. Joe had told Aron that he might be playing tennis around 10 am, and so we found him at the courts near the dock, followed him back to his house, and took off with two very salty, very rusty bikes (not the one pictured)–ours until 7pm at
the bargain price of $10 a piece.
We spent the next few hours exploring the townships of Kismet, Saltaire, and Lonelyville–getting seriously steamy as we rode over boardwalks and through occasional sandy patches, and parking our bikes to walk down to the water from time to time.
We ultimately decided to return the bikes early and so, after lunch in Kismet, we walked along the Atlantic shore to Ocean Beach.Ocean Beach appears to be the largest of the island’s townships–with its concentration of restaurants and a few small hotels. After the success of our Hudson trip, we had brought along some tips from Jauntsetter: we each had cake from Rachel’s bakery and made reservations at Matthew’s Seafood for dinner.
We could tell there was more of a “scene” in Ocean Beach and, overall, we preferred the low-key vibe of Saltaire and Kismet. However, we found that such distinctions didn’t matter much for the next few hours–which were spent napping and reading (mostly napping) on the beach.
Before dinner, we strolled a bit further, but we never made it to the Sunken Forest or Cherry Grove (places to see on our next trip). The sea grasses looked gorgeous shining in the afternoon sun, and the whole place looked just that much more amazing when deer started grazing just back from the sand.
We had decided to leave out of Ocean Beach on the 9:15 pm ferry so that we could watch the sun set (almost) into the water, and were happy that we did. We were seated on the dock at Matthew’s and watched the boats pulling in and out of the harbor over beers and seafood. I can’t say that we were too impressed with the food, but the setting was enough of a draw.
We hurried to catch the ferry and hurried to get off–hoping to catch the 9:51 train. We may have made it (it would have been tight), but we opted to take a $22 direct shuttle to Manhattan instead. It dropped us a block from our apartment–perfect!
It seriously felt like we had gone to Florida for the day! I could barely believe that such a place was so close. I would absolutely love to return. A day trip takes a bit of stamina, but I think we both were really glad we made the effort–it definitely paid off. (And we still had Sunday to sleep-in.)
That very wise friend with the excellent beach suggestions, Nora, is marrying her longtime love Patrick this Saturday–we’re so excited to celebrate! It’s going to be fantastic.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.