Just a 30-minute ferry ride off the coast of Long Island, you’ll find the quaint local paradise of Fire Island, NY.
Fire Island is versatile. It’s a night on the town, a weekend away, or a day of family fun. Whether you’re coming in from Long Island or California, this guide can help you plan the Fire Island trip of a lifetime.
You’ll want to head to the town of Ocean Beach. There are no cars allowed, but plenty of restaurants and places to stay. The town basically shuts down during the colder months, but is bustling from May through September.
Getting to Fire Island
The best way to get to Fire Island is to take a ferry from the town of Bayshore (on Long Island) to the town of Ocean Beach (on Fire Island).
Dogs are permitted on the ferry and will be charged the child’s ticket rate – but make sure you know where you can and can’t take your dog on Fire Island. Many of the hotels and Airbnbs are not dog-friendly.
Each ferry passenger is allowed one piece of luggage weighing up to 25 pounds; there may be additional charges for other items (It makes sense that they have this rule, because I’ve seen families try to get on board with bikes, surfboards, dog crates, strollers, and more and take up half the boat).
What to do in Ocean Beach Fire Island
There are technically other things to do on Fire Island outside of Ocean Beach. But unless you want to walk for an hour in each direction to visit the Fire Island Lighthouse or see Sunken Meadow State Park, you’d have to get creative to get there.
If you’re visiting Ocean Beach itself, you’re probably visiting to spend a week in the quaint beach town.
A typical day in Ocean Beach might look like this:
- Brunch at Rachel’s Bakery
- A few hours spent laying on the beach
- Grab some ice cream from Scoops
- Explore the surf shops on Bay Ave, or buy a sea shell or two from kids waiting for you to walk by their booth (an adorable Fire Island trend)
- Enjoy a fantastic lobster dinner at Maguire’s or juicy, pan-seared scallops followed by a chocolate bomb at the Island Mermaid
- Hit up the Sand Bar for a lively night or catch some live music and try the “Rocket Fuel” drink at CJ’s.
Staying for a week? Rinse and repeat.
A week of good food, drinks, and beach time? Sign me up!
Where to Stay on Fire Island
The island is loaded with Airbnbs and other rentable homes fit for a travel magazine…or Instagram.
Airbnbs on Fire Island (Ocean Beach)
IMPORTANT: New York short-term rental laws require a minimum stay of one week in Fire Island rental properties.
For the Big Group
Starting at $200/night off-season but reaching past $1500/night for popular summer weekends, this five-bedroom home can sleep up to 14 people comfortably. Step out on the deck in the morning with your coffee and catch a great view of the beach – or just walk the shore. It’s sure close enough!
Luxury Bayfront for 6
Groups of six or less can enjoy this beautiful view of the bay with exquisite interior design. It’s far enough that you may not be able to hear the bars at night, but close enough that you can still walk to get breakfast in five minutes or head straight to the beach.
Whether you’re visiting with a family of four or a bachelorette party, this resort-style home has everything you need: a great deck with a grill, a pool, a heated pool, and even an outdoor shower which is fantastic after a day at the nearby beach. This home also comes with a Pack ‘N Play, a baby dining seat, bikes, books, and toys to make your stay with kids more comfortable.
The house comes with a portable crib (Pack ‘N Play), an attachable dining seat (Inglesina) for baby/toddler, a toddler bike, kids motorcycle, scooters, books and small toys.
Hotels on Fire Island
Airbnbs are really the best option if you’re looking for beachfront luxury, but Ocean Beach hotels can be cheaper than Airbnbs (especially during busy summer weekends), and you’ll be able to support local business.
The Palms Hotel
Located just across the street from the popular Maguire’s Restaurant, in the middle of all the excitement, is The Palms Hotel. There are several different room options, and prices can change drastically depending on the time of year, so I recommend you check out their website as you’re booking your travel.
Clegg’s Hotel consists of 20 rooms located just steps from the Ocean Beach dock. It’s a true B&B, offering daily continental breakfast as well as bikes, beach chairs and umbrellas, and board games.
Blue Waters Hotel
The Blue Waters Hotel is a group of condos, apartments, and rooms in the heart of Ocean Beach. They are definitely a cheaper option. Currently, they are advertising $600 for a three-day labor day weekend getaway, which is half of what you might pay for an Airbnb.
Housers may be more known for their bar, but they also have ten tiny hotel rooms. These rooms look a bit like college dorm rooms, including communal showers. It may not be the most comfortable stay, but it is easily the cheapest with rates as low as $99/night during popular weekends.
What to Eat on Fire Island
If you’re staying in Ocean Beach, you won’t be far from an array of high-class seafood, rowdy karaoke bars, and late-night ice cream cones.
Maguire’s Bay Restaurant
Maguire’s is a versatile restaurant on the bay that can serve families just as easily as it can serve large, adult-only parties. They have a small beach with a playground out front, but they also serve strong pina coladas and have a fairly extensive bar menu for a secluded island restaurant.
This is one of the island’s more expensive restaurants, featuring a $44 flat iron and a Maine lobster that varies in price based on the catch. It’s where you’ll likely have one of your best and most memorable Fire Island meals.
The Island Mermaid
Equally versatile, the Island Mermaid is a place where you can sit outside with cloth napkins and order a nice crab salad or a lobster roll for lunch, then come back later and watch a drag show. It’s a great place to enjoy a (tasty) meal and watch the ferries come in and out of the dock.
Flynn’s describes themselves as both a restaurant and a night club – AND they have a dinner cruise! You’ll find that a lot of places on Fire Island (especially Ocean Beach) can be pretty versatile. It’s a small town and a small island, so the businesses there need to cater to every kind of visitor.
Flynn’s a place where you can catch some live music at night or enjoy a nice meal early in the evening. The dinner cruise is only $15 per ticket and features all-you-can-eat lobsters for an extra $45! There is also a bar on board.
Rachel’s Bakery & Restaurant
While technically a full-service restaurant, Rachel’s is the place to go for a sweet treat in Ocean Beach. Their menu features everything from a S’mores brownie to a gluten and dairy-free almond horn. You can also pick up a full-sized cake to bring back and celebrate with your family!
Scoops Ice Cream
Scoops features a delicious array of flavors and toppings. Grab a cup, a cone, a shake, or a root beer float and walk around the main strip in Ocean Beach!
You can find food and drinks all up and down the main strip at Ocean Beach, but if you like to plan ahead, here are the popular bars:
CJ’s Restaurant & Bar
CJ’s is the place to go for live music in the summer. They are famous for their “Rocket Fuel” drink, which is a pina colada with Bacardi and amaretto liquor. They have a small entre menu and a decent appetizer selection as well for a late-night bite.
We mentioned Housers earlier due to their ten tiny hotel rooms, but it’s also a lively bar in the summer. It’s the more “divey” of the Ocean Beach bars, featuring a pool table and rickety tables and chairs.
Albatross keeps the party going until 4 AM (and opens again at noon, so you can get sloshed and then come back for lunch once you wake up). I’d recommend their “Sandy Paloma” (tequila, grapefruit, agave nectar, lime, chili salt rim).
The Bocce Beach bar feels more like a college bar than the others, with the billiards table, the dartboards, and the crowds.
The Sand Bar
The Sand Bar is tucked in on Bay Ave (the main strip). This is the bar to go at night if you want the neon lights sort of atmosphere.
Castaway Bar and Grill
Castaway is the place you want to go if you’re normally a sports bar kind of person. It may not be a sports bar by definition, but there are TVs behind the bar where you can certainly catch a game. Of course, you can also stop by for fried Oreos before they close at 2 AM.