A Pedacito of Fire Island, New York
Growing up in the South, I'd never heard of Fire Island, which is located parallel to Long Island, NY. Sure I was familiar with the Hamptons thanks to numerous TV shows. But the minute I moved to New York City, I quickly found out about this stretch of amazing beach communities.
It wasn’t long after I met my friends that I heard epic stories of summers spent on the island, partying and meeting a ton of new people. Fire Island is unlike any other vacation spot I’ve ever been to. It is a mix of party, beach, relaxation, and friendships.
In the 8 years of living in the city, I was lucky enough to head to the island a handful of times when we were able to find a house and a weekend that fit most of our schedules and budgets. The best trip there I took was just a few weeks prior to my move to New Orleans.
Getting to Fire Island from Manhattan sounds easy but it’s literally, trains, buses, ferries, and a lot of walking! Grabbing the train in Penn Station is always an adventure. With people heading East not only to Fire Island but the Hamptons as well, it’s a lot of chaos with young people overloaded with bags and suitcases as they head out for their beach weekends.
The train ride is fairly short but there are still a few additional steps once you get off the train. A bus is waiting outside the station to take you to the ferry, so you pay the fee, tip the driver to load your bags, and hop on the bus. Then, at the ferry, it's another fee and another tip as you grab a great spot on the top deck of the ferry for the 30 minutes or so ride across the Great South Bay to Fire Island.
There are no cars on the island and the stores are few and far between. To be able to get your stuff off the ferry and to the house you are staying in, there are wagons at the dock that nearly every home has locked up and ready to go once you arrive.
My friends, who had arrived a day before I did, met me at the dock with the wagon and I loaded up the things that weren’t in my suitcase for the 4 or 5 block walk.
The houses available for rent are typically fairly large, and most have at least two twin beds in each bedroom. We just did a standard weekend rental in a “smaller” 3-bedroom home, so linens were provided for the beds but we did have to bring our own towels.
There are no cars on the island, other than for the full-time residents. To get anywhere, you are either walking or biking. There is also a ferry that runs several times a day between the little towns in case you are adventurous and want to check out other areas of the island. However, my friends and I typically enjoy just hanging out near the house we rent.
A typical weekend for us involves cooking meals at the house, getting out for a good walk or bike ride, hitting the beach for several hours, and finding a bar that has some good music.
The sunsets are stunning here, and while the beaches are different than the ones I am used to in the South, they are still really beautiful even if the water has always been too cold for me!
The joy of the island is hanging on the beach and checking out the amazing wildlife that exists just a few miles away from the big city. While it’s not always the quickest or easiest trip there, the couple of hours it takes to get to the island is well worth it.
It was an added “bonus” living that close to the beach and the chill communities that exist on the island. Fire Island will always hold a special place in my heart. It gave me a chance to grow my friendships as well as experience something new every time I took the train/bus/ferry out to the Island.