When arriving on Fire Island you can land on many of the diffrent towns on the island. I arrived at the town of Cherry Grove. This picture is from top of the boat over looking Cherry Grove bar.
If your idea of a boardwalk is informed, as mine once was, by the one found in Atlantic City, with its high-off-the-ground construction, amusements rides, cheap souvenir shops and tacky casinos, toss it out the window when we talk about the boardwalks at Fire Island Pines.
The boardwalks, or The Walks, are the only way to get around The Pines. There are not any roads or streets or avenues here; its all boardwalks. There is a boulevard, though, Fire Island Boulevard; it is referred to by locals as The Boulevard. It is the main walkway in The Pines; it runs the entire length of the community. Most walks are named with seaside-related names, Sandy Walk, Driftwood Walk, Seaview Walk (which oddly does not have a view of the sea!).
Because these walks are wooden, the weather and seashore conditions result in various stages of disrepair to the boards. The nails holding the boards in place often pop up because the wood shrinks. Be careful and be on the look out for nails sticking up and for broken boards.
Because there are no street lights the edges of the walks are painted white to reflect as much light as possible and help nighttime walkers avoid falling off over the edge. After 26 years of summering in The Pines I have never fallen off The Walks.
When visiting Fire Island Pines from New York City I encourage everyone to ride the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).
It is not possible to take a car in to Fire Island Pines; parking it in one of the lots at the ferry dock is pricey. Leave it at home.
Check the LIRR schedule, available on its web site, for departure times from NYC’s Penn Station. The town of Sayville is your destination, but it is only a jumping off point on the journey to The Pines.
I would encourage you to buy a round trip ticket at Penn Station. You save money with a round trip ticket and you avoid standing in line at the ticket vending machines (see photo #3). Do not buy tickets on the train, although it can be done; they are more expensive.
Very few trains travel directly from NYC to Sayville; a transfer is usually required. I suggest transferring at Babylon, Long Island as opposed to Jamaica, NY. The train station at Jamaica has always proved to be crowded and confusing for me. The one in Babylon is far more quiet and easier to transfer across the platform to the train that will take you to Sayville.
The iconic image of Fire Island Pines is the little red wagon.
It is used for getting stuff from place to place; groceries, beach chairs and gear, flowers, dogs, cats, and more have all been transported around The Pines in a little red wagon, usually of the Radio Flyer brand.
Although those cute little things are still used, many households have moved up in the world of wagons and carts. Larger aluminium carts with large rubber tires are more common today (see photos #4 & #5).
At the harbor a wagon parking lot is provided by the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association; there is a fee for the space where the wagon can be locked awaiting your return with your groceries and your dog.
The last leg of your journey for getting to Fire Island Pines (FIP) is by ferry. The Sayville Ferry Service is the sole operator of ferries between Sayville, on NY State’s Long Island, and four locations on Fire Island, Sailor’s Haven/Sunken Forest; Cherry Grove; Fire Island Pines; and Water Island.
Consult the on-line schedule at the Ferry Service's web page. Service changes throughout the year, with more boats during the high season of June, July and August; but the number of ferries falls off like a rock from a cliff after Labor Day and continues to decline until the following spring.
I ride on the upper deck when weather permits; this position offers a great view and refreshing breezes. This position also helps give me the sense that I am leaving the world behind and entering a remote location. One tip: sit in the center row of seats when the bay is rough; water splashes up soaking the folks in the outside seats.
Although it might sound intimidating for the first time traveller to Fire Island, it's actually not too complicated as all the services are basically in sync. The scheduled train meets a waiting van which take you to a scheduled ferry. You decompress a bit with each step and arrive in a much different and relaxed mood than when you left the city.
You can find mashed up train and ferry schedules at a site called The Fairy Schedule. It list the best connections to meet the ferry.
Try to buy the round trip LIRR train ticket before leaving. It's one less think to deal with on your way back.
The van that runs between the Sayville train station and the ferry is $5 (Summer 2010)
Hold on to your ferry ticket! The same ticket to board is also the ticket for the return trip. It's collected when you get back to the Sayville ferry. Round trip is $14 (Summer 2010)
There are numerous communities on New York State’s Fire Island.
If you do not want to walk the beach from one community to another, an easy way to commute between them is by water taxi.
The photos here show the taxi pulling into the harbor at The Pines and passengers disembarking.
From Sayville which is the town on the other side of the bay you can take either the Cherry Grove or The Pines Ferry to the Island...
This is the town of Sayville in Long Island where you catch the ferry to cross the bay to Fire Island.