Watch Hill, Fire Island


 

Long Island, New York has many wonderful, hidden gems. I blogged last summer about staycations, which focused on one of my favorite Suffolk County beaches. Watch Hill, one of several wonderful spots on famous Fire Island, isn’t exactly hidden or unknown. In fact, It gets downright crowded on warm-weather holidays, although it definitely is one of my home island’s jewels with an aura of otherworldliness, isolated from suburbia. In other words, you can’t drive there.

Getting There

For most travelers, there are two ways to reach this barrier island surrounded by the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean: private boat or ferry ride from the village of Patchogue. One way via boat takes about thirty minutes. The third and most breathtaking experience in getting there would be hopping a seaplane from Manhattan’ 23rd Street Skyport.

Leaving Patchogue Marina

Leaving Patchogue Marina

A Fire Island Ferry

A Fire Island Ferry

If you are travelling on a private vessel, you may opt to go tubing, fishing, or swimming in the bay before reaching your destination of Watch Hill or on the way home. Our group anchored at one point for the kids (and two of the dads) to cool off in the salty waters. Others, like me, may choose to enjoy the sights while onboard.

DSCN7427Amenities 

Watch Hill, part of Davis Park, has a number of amenities (see related links below for more information), including a white sand beach with lifeguards, boardwalk nature trails, a snack shop, tiki bar, and souvenir shop primarily stocked with Watch Hill tee shirts and other clothing. Both the marina slips (day or longer-term) and the tent campsites, provide utility hook-ups. After visiting there for the day, I can easily picture wanting to return with the tent for a weekend stay with my honey.

DSCN7451What to Bring

Visitors to Watch Hill may wish to bring coolers, umbrellas, beach chairs, sand toys, boogie boards, blankets, towels, and extra sunscreen. Dogs technically are not allowed on the beach itself, but my relatives stated they’d seen dogs at the far end of the beach at times and the people in charge hadn’t seemed to mind.

If you are traveling by ferry, be aware that the changing rooms don’t have curtains. You could wash off in the outdoor showers to rid of the salt/sand and air-dry your bathing suit. On the other hand, if anyone in your party has sensory needs and MUST change into clean clothes at risk of a sensory meltdown, you may consider bringing a shower curtain to hang up and use as needed. Since I traveled with my fourteen-year-old son with autism (his dad had to work), we were very fortunate to have my in-laws’ boat available for this purpose.

Boardwalk to beach and nature trail

Boardwalk to beach and nature trail

DSCN7447If you plan to purchase items from the snack shop, be aware they only accept cash. My son had the hamburger (fresh slice of tomato and dill pickles on a seeded bun), fries, and a large Sprite. The total came to twelve dollars and change. The food was good, although you may wish to ask for no ice in your drink if you truly want a large soda. The shop had a large enough selection if you happen to be camping for the weekend, with breakfast items included.

Snack Shop & Tiki Bar

Snack Shop & Tiki Bar

Watch Hill Beach

Watch Hill Beach

Restrooms, seating area, and souvenir store

Restrooms, seating area, and souvenir store

There are a number of Fire Island communities to explore within walking distance of each other. There are full-service restaurants, twenty-something bars, gay communities, and small towns with shopping opportunities. The beaches are gorgeous and the people friendly. If you live on Long Island or plan to visit, Fire Island is a terrific summer alternative to the Hamptons.

DSCN7463Related Links:

http://www.watchhillfi.com/

http://www.fireislandcc.org/fitrans.html

http://www.fireisland.net/

Have you discovered any new gems in your summer travels?

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patricia Yager Delagrange
    Aug 05, 2013 @ 14:27:00

    I loved your pictures. I’ve always been intrigued by the Eastern beaches and this was a great tour. Thank you.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 05, 2013 @ 14:30:56

      Thanks, Patricia. I had originally planned a post about Key West, but had such a wonderful day at Watch Hill I just had to share.

      Do you have any favorite Eastern beaches?

  2. Maggie Van Well
    Aug 05, 2013 @ 16:21:14

    I’ve lived here all my life and have never been to this part of Fire Island. It looks lovely! Thanks for sharing and for the great pictures

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 05, 2013 @ 19:45:13

      Hi Maggie! Interesting to note, people may park their vehicles for free at the Patchogue Fire Island ferry if traveling to Watch Hill instead of Davis Park. I’m really warming up to the idea of camping there overnight with my honey one day. Looks like a wonderful getaway–big on ambiance and low on price.

  3. malanouette
    Aug 05, 2013 @ 16:30:06

    My brother used to take his boat over there. It’s a beautiful island. You showed its beauty in your beautiful pictures.

  4. Donna Coe-Velleman
    Aug 05, 2013 @ 17:52:24

    Like Maggie, I too have never visited that beach. Fire Island does have some beautiful sights. Thanks for bringing them to us.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 05, 2013 @ 19:52:58

      Hi Donna!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

      I’ve been to Fire Island on a number of occasions, but never to this particular section. It’s definitely a boater’s delight, and many of the people there knew each other. As the parent of a special needs child, I was concerned about keeping him occupied, but he loved it there. When he needed a break from the sun and sand, he was very happy to walk around, visit the souvenir shop, get a snack, and sit on a shady bench with me.

      It’s closer to you than you think, without the traffic and crowds of the east end.

  5. Lynda B
    Aug 05, 2013 @ 18:22:23

    Looks like a fun time was had by all … while you were enjoying the sun, sea and beach, I was doing about five loads of laundry … now where were my priorities on such a beautiful day!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 05, 2013 @ 19:55:50

      Ah, Lynda. Laundry doesn’t sound like a very fun summer activity, but I imagine you were thankful this Monday morning to wake up to a closet of clean clothes. Yes? If it makes you feel better, I had to do a load of towels and bathing suits when we arrived home.

      Have a wonderful week, and look forward to talking with you soon! 🙂

  6. PJ Sharon
    Aug 05, 2013 @ 19:36:14

    I love Watch Hill! My personal FB page banner photo was taken there this spring. It is one of my go-to places for peace and solitude. Great pics…thanks for sharing.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 05, 2013 @ 19:58:27

      PJ, we share a love of beautiful beaches. Is your Watch Hill in Rhode Island or the one on Fire Island off the shore of Long Island?

      Now I have to go check out your FB page banner photo…here I go. 🙂

  7. Jill Weatherholt
    Aug 06, 2013 @ 07:02:25

    Thanks for taking me along on your getaway to Fire Island, Jolyse! It looks like a beautiful place and judging from your photos, the weather was spectacular!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 06, 2013 @ 08:36:52

      Hi Jill! Watch Hill was serene and the weather was close to perfect. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a wonderful week, letting go of that inner editor. 🙂

  8. Jill Weatherholt
    Aug 06, 2013 @ 09:15:28

    LOL! I’m trying! 🙂 You have a great week as well, Jolyse! I hope your husband is doing well.

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