Fire Island's Most Frequently Asked Questions
What and Where is Fire Island?Fire Island is located off the south shore of Long Island in Suffolk County, New York. Fire Island is a barrier island and is around 31 miles long and 0.25 miles wide. Ocean Beach is the unofficial “Capital of Fire Island” as it is the largest and most popular community on Fire Island inhabiting the most bars, restaurants, entertainment and shopping.
How Large is Fire Island and What Parks are on the Island?Fire Island’s gross area is 8,724 miles as it spans 31 miles long and .25 miles wide. A major part of Fire Island is environmentally protected and remains undeveloped. About 20% of Fire Island is developed with the remaining parks filled with 4,000 lots in 17 small communities. Parks on Fire Island include the Fire Island National Seashore, Smith Point County Park, and Robert Moses State Park.Is Fire Island a Predominately Gay Community?This question is often asked, but is a common misunderstanding. Fire Island is made up of many different villages and while Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines are LGBT communities, they are extremely diverse and welcoming of everyone. These 2 communities are gay friendly, but are also accepting of all families, individuals be it gay, straight, bisexual or other. Fire Island is multifaceted and the gay culture of Fire Island Pines & Cherry Grove is just one part of the diverse and unique culture of Fire Island.
Does Fire Island have a “Season”?Fire Island is quite popular throughout Memorial Day to Labor Day. During the summer season, Fire Island is fluttering with vacationers and tourists. While Fire Island is a popular destination for New Yorkers looking for a summer get-away, the off season has its own alluring charm. After Labor Day, the hustle and bustle of Fire Island settles as vacationers depart and the island becomes peaceful and serene. Hotels all around Fire Island tend to offer off-season rates, so individuals and families can get a great deal. During the off-season, the Fire Island Ferry schedule does change, but still gives travelers the ability to travel to and fro. For many looking for a get-away, the fall and spring season on Fire Island is spectacular and intimate, and can be one of the best times to visit the Island. Travelers should expect to see some closures of certain shops and restaurants during the off-season, so plan accordingly.
Since I can’t drive to the Island, how do I get there?Fire Island villages are easily accessible by ferry, water taxi and private boats. The Fire Island Ferry runs quite often and is affordable. You can reach Fire Island by driving to Robert Moses beach, parking in field 5 and then walking to the Island.Where Should I stay in Fire Island?Fire Island has numerous hotels and the majority are located in the villages of Ocean Beach & Ocean Beach Park. Beach House shares are also quite popular, as they are affordable and give visitors the ability to gather with old friends and meet new friends. Reservations for hotels and Beach House rentals should be made in advance, especially for the holiday weekend such as Memorial Day, Labor Day and July 4th.Speaking of Fire Island shares, what’s up with that Fire Island reality TV show?
In the summer of 2006, ABC’s One Ocean View began filming in Ocean Beach, Fire Island. One Ocean View brought Fire Island’s summer share beach house culture to the reality TV world. This ABC program took a new perspective on the exhausted “sharing-a-house” reality TV formula. One Ocean View features eleven attractive, single, self-assured young New Yorkers: Anelka, Heather, John, K.J, Lauren, Lisa, Mary, Miki, Radha, Usman, and Zack in their search for summer love. The show was not well received and conflicted with the low-key, private resort community.How Do I travel within Fire Island Communities?There aren’t any automobiles allowed on the Island with the exception of service and emergency vehicles. Walking and biking are the only ways to get around the Island, and the lack of cars adds to the alluring charm and laid back atmosphere of the Island. Free of cars, traffic and pollution, Fire Island truly is a magical get-away. Traveling by foot popular as it is great exercise and allows visitors to really soak in all the scenery. Bicycle rentals are available in Ocean Beach and Ocean Bay Park should one wish to cover more land.Why is there so many Deer on the Island?There are numerous white-tailed deer that live on Fire Island. While you may be interested in the deer and want to feed them, it is best to keep your distance. Feeding the animals can harm both the deer and damage the natural ecosystem of Fire Island, and can be dangerous to humans as deer carries ticks, which can cause Lyme disease in humans. Please take note that according to federal regulations, “All wildlife within the boundaries of Fire Island National Seashore is protected under the code of Federal Regulations: 36 cfr 2.2 (2): "Feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing of wildlife nesting, breeding, or other activities" is Prohibited and Subject to Fine.”-The National Park Service.
What should I bring with me to Fire Island?
The most important thing to bring with you to the Island is a casual, laid-back and ready-to-relax attitude. Fire Island is nothing like the Hampton’s so leave the stuffiness at home! Also, the following is important too:
Is there a charge to use the Beaches on Fire Island?
- Cash. There aren’t many ATMS on the Island, and most have a $100 maximum withdrawal and $3.00 charge for use.
- Change of clothes is imperative, as most of the communities require a bathing suit cover up in town. The temperature on the Island can be a few degrees cooler, so pack accordingly.
- License or State I.D. Expect to be proofed at bars, regardless of how old you are or look.
- Sun Block, Insect Repellent
- Beach Towels and Beach Chairs
- Fire Island Map and Ferry Schedule as well as LIRR schedule.
- Aspirin and water-for those nights you may get a little crazy.
With the exclusion of 2 private communities, (Fire Island Summer Club & Point O’Woods), all beaches are open to all without the expense of beach passes. Fire Island Beaches do have rules and regulations that must be followed or there is a risk of fine.
*Please take notice that Fire Island Summer Club & Point O’Woods are privately owned communities not accessible to the public.
What kind of clothes should I bring and how do I dress?The overall dress code is beachy, laid-back and comfortable. While you are required to wear shirts and shoes in restaurants and such, shorts are acceptable attire. If you’re spending an evening out, don’t overdress as you will be doing a lot of walking so keep those high heels at home. Fire Island is a place to escape a high maintenance lifestyle, so take that into consideration when packing and dressing. City folk flee to the Island for a casual atmosphere leaving the suits and pantyhose at home and embracing the beach bum lifestyle.
Are there groceries or convenience stores on Fire Island?There are 9 grocery stores throughout Fire Island. Whitney’s in Ocean Beach is stocked with everything you need and also has a fantastic deli with the best prices on the Island. Ocean Beach trading has a great selection of items and is located right next to the Ocean Beach Ferry Gate. Mermaid Market in Ocean Beach has a wide variety of gourmet foods as well as vegetarian options. Seaview Market has all the essentials, and is located right next to the Seaview Ferry Terminal. When grocery shopping, be prepared to pay double for items that you would buy in New York City. To save money, many rental and summer share tenants have groceries delivered from the mainland as some supermarkets on the mainland deliver and ship groceries to the Island.
Are there any liquor stores on Fire Island?There are five liquor stores on Fire Island – in Fair Harbor, the Fire Island Pines, Seaview, Saltaire, and Ocean Beach – but the price tag warrants a shot of tequila to brace the pain. Fire Island visitors should come prepared with their own liquor, or pay the (hefty) price. Fire Island liquor stores are closed on Sundays due to State laws, but there are plenty of drink specials to be found and explored on the Island.
Can I get a workout at a gym on Fire Island?There is a gym called Fire Island Fitness located at 310 Cottage Walk in Ocean Beach. However, with all the swimming, surfing, volleyball, hiking, biking, kayaking and windsurfing-it is doubtful you will need one! If you like tennis or basketball, there are courts in most towns to play.
Will my cell phone work on the Island?While cell phones do work on the Island, it is sometimes hard to get a signal, especially with AT&T. Do yourself a favor, try to pry your fingers away from the blackberry for once and leave your phone on the mainland!
Are there movie theaters on Fire Island?Yes, there is one theater located in Ocean Beach and it features on family film per week during the summer season. It is advised that you try and keep yourself busy and away from any activities that let you zone out such as TV, Internet and movies are best left for the mainland. Try to enjoy the uniqueness of the island, and leave the zoning out for home. What happens in case of an emergency? Can I see a doctor if I become ill?
If you have an emergency, dial 911 and help will arrive immediately. Numerous communities have both a police and fire department, so do not worry about the car-free policy of the Island. Here are some resources in case of an emergency:
Where can I shop on Fire Island?There are multiple small boutiques all over the island, but most shopping is located in Ocean Beach. Please see visitor information for more details.Does Fire Island have a Post Office?Davis Park, Cherry Grove, Ocean Beach, Fair Harbor, Kismet, and Saltaire all have post offices for your convenience.Where can I find places of worship on the Island?Fire Island Synagogue in Seaview, Our Lady of the Magnificent in Ocean Beach, St. Andrews by the Sea in Saltaire, and Our Lady Star of the Sea in Saltaire.Where can I learn More About Fire Island
- Ocean Beach Police Department: 631-583-5866
- Cherry Grove Medical Clinic: 631-597-6767
- Fair Harbor/Dunewood Fire Department: 631-583-8546
- Fair Harbor/Dunewood Emergency Medical: 631-583-5145
- Fire Island Pines Doctor (Pines Care Center): 631-597-6160
- Saltaire Village Doctor 631-583-5466
- Seaview Doctor: 631-583-8548