A relatively small island
on the south shore
of Long Island
in New York
. Pretty narrow island, but long. On average, a good half mile
, but about 20 miles from East
. The island is a barrier beach
so that storms and floods don't hit the mainland
The name comes from it originally being part of "Five Islands" In Old English, the "V" resembled an "R," hence the name. Plus, fires used to be lit on the island by native Americans and pirates (yes, on Long Island) used to light fires to trick ships into thinking it was a lighthouse, so they'd crash and get looted.
A pretty island, with beaches on both its north and south sides. Most of the island is the "Fire Island National Seashore," meaning it's a national park. The only direct connection with the mainland is the Robert Moses bridge. The main way there is by the Fire Island Ferries, a monopoly that charges $6 US one way. There are a number of public beaches on the East end, and a Lighthouse. To the west are towns. Between the Lighthouse and the towns is a public nude beach.
A couple rules among towns there. 1) No cars allowed without a federal permit. There's an extremely long waiting list, year-round residents get the lion's share. Most people commute by bike. Bicycle-ing and walking are practically the only ways of getting around. Plus, no pollution.
There are many recreational activities, boating, fishing, surfing, clamming, sunbathing...
It's almost a requirement that every family owns a flexible flyer red wagon. That is an icon for Fire Island and the painted seashells are something everybody remembers when they come here.
There are several towns going west (in order from the eastern lighthouse):
Kismet: The first town from the highway. Full of summer houses, and college kids. Known for their crazy amounts of alcohol consumption. I've seen no less than 3 trash cans of beer cans in front of one house, on more than one occasion. They are maybe the only town that allows group rentals. Overall, a nice place. Kismet is home to two restaurants, the In and the Out. My only complaint is that their sidewalks are pretty much sand and gravel. Blame it on the politics of being stuck in the town of Islip, which doesn't give tax money to such a remote part of their town. Course, that's my opinion, I could be wrong. They have a pizzaria, a fire department, playgroud, beaches. They don't have a doctor's office like the other towns, people usually go to Saltaire instead.
Saltaire: Great name for a town. One of the larger communities, great for families. It's an incorporated village, and therefore has their own taxes and thus better public utilities. They have a general store, a town hall, a library, a boardwalk, village taxes and some impressive properties. Liz Claiborne's summer house is here. They have a large baseball field, and run a local summer day camp. They have a mini-police department, but it's more like village security. Only 1 crime in 20 years, I've heard. There is a Catholic and one Episcopalean church. Oh, yes, and kiddie lemonade stands. The only rub is that outdoor barbecues are banned (fire hazard).
Fair Harbor: Another large town, with a restaurant, fire department, general store, pizzaria, doctor's office, playground, beaches, bike repair shop, and ice cream store. A pleasant place. People from Saltaire and Kismet freely ride their bikes here and back between all 3 towns.
After here, the road that connects the towns, Lighthouse Walk, becomes unpaved for a while. Heading east past Fair Harbor, there's a small town of houses called Dunewood. Most people enjoy the homes, their beach, and go to another adjacent town where there's a lifeguard stand. Also there is Lonelyville. Small town since the early 1900's. No ferry dock, unfirtunately, so people have to walk from Dunewood or Atlantique.
Continuing down the sand road, we come to Atlantique. A sort of narrow town, if you call it that. More for daytrippers. Consists essentially of a ferry dock and marina, a concessions stand and bathrooms, and a beach. Thank you. Yes, they have a lifeguard.
Robbins Rest: It has a restaurant, hotel, and marina. Quaint.
Ocean Beach: People from the eastern towns consider it the city on Fire Island. Compared to the western towns, it's very big. It has many, many restaurants, stores, ice cream shops, bars, arcades, you name it. There is a 2 cell jail, the only one on Fire Island (because of the bars). There is a smallish movie theater here too, as well as a Catholic Church.
There are downsides to Ocean Beach, however. It's known to its residents as the "land of NO." NO bicycles, NO music outdoors, NO barbecues, NO eating outside, not even ice cream. In spite of the no bicycles law, scooters are the biggest hit here. I mean in the thousands. Watch, this summer they'll be banned too.
Seaview, I don't know much about, other than the bigger houses. The only Synagogue on the island is in this town. /msg me and I'll add more info.
Ocean Bay Park: Big, expensive houses. There's a huge restaurant there called Flynn's.
Point O' Woods: The most exclusive community on Fire Island. You can't live there without the community's consent, making it difficult to buy property. If you're a daytripper, skip here. Private beach. They are known for their Yacht Club and their annual sailing regatta and tennis match against Saltaire. They have the only train track on Fire Island.
Sailor's Haven/Sunken Forest: A great national park. A boardwalk thru a rainforest, under a canopy of trees, leading to a beach. Beautiful. Sunken. A forest. Great for a day off or a picnic.
Cherry Grove and The Pines: Haven't been there yet, but I've been told it's a blast. It is a diverse, mostly gay community, but it's like the Mardi Gras all the time in the summer out there. Great nightlife, restaurants, theater, and live entertainment. A mostly nude beach.
Water Island:Small, extremely private community. No ferry access and a long distance between towns make a boat a necessity here.
The most easterly point of Fire Island, attached to the mainland by the Smith Point Bridge and Floyd Parkway. This area offers wide beaches and high sand dunes as well as the islands only surf competition.