Field Trip: Bike into Fire Island

For the next couple months, I’ll publish a day trip suggestion on Sundays, and I am counting on readers to send submissions to share. Follow the template below (no need to write if you don’t want to — you can just send the basic info) and send a few pics to tribecacitizen@gmail.com. The trip can be by car, train, ferry or bike, and should include at least one pit stop (ie, a meal). 

THE DESTINATION
Fire Island, NY

THE JOURNEY
1:10 by car (56 miles) to Robert Moses State Park Field 5. Park in the most eastern part of the parking lot. Then continue out the exit by bike; when you see the two white fences, go between them, make a right, then bear left towards the lighthouse to ride parallel to the ocean and towards the towns. Parking is $10 for the day.

The biking is slow and scenic. You can ride the wider concrete path that goes down the middle between the ocean and the bay, or take any turn to the left to meet up with the narrower boardwalk paths along the bay side.

(Alternate trip: 1:40 train to Bayshore from Penn Station; walk or cab to ferry to Fair Harbor; 30 minute ferry ride to Fair Harbor)

PIT STOPS
Dinner at Le Dock in Fair Harbor. Open starting at 5p on weekdays and noon on weekends. Or Surf’s Out in Kismet, open as of 11. (They will also deliver drinks to the beach, but remember you have to bike out!)

TO DO
Beach it
We got to the parking lot ($10 for the day) at Robert Moses at 10:30a (NB, bathrooms and a gift shop near the entrance) and started biking in a few minutes later.
The towns go in this order from the west: Kismet, Saltaire, Fair Harbor, Dunewood, Atlantique, Ocean Beach, Ocean Bay Park, Point O Woods, Sunken Forest, Cherry Grove, Fire Island Pines, Davis Park, Watch Hill. We went as far as Atlantique, which is 3.5 miles from the parking lot. But you can make a right turn at any point along there and head over the dune.

Eat
We packed in a lunch, stopped for drinks at the market, got ice cream early afternoon and ate an early dinner before we biked out. But you can just as easily buy a great lunch at the Pioneer Market in Fair Harbor or go out to lunch in Kismet at Surf’s Out.

See the lighthouse
We didn’t fit in a trip to the Fire Island Lighthouse but my nephews are big fans. The 182 steps nets great views. It was open from 10a to 4p the day we were there, but it’s hit and miss so call in advance: 631-661-4876.

THE BACKGROUND
The “island” is just one piece of the sandy barrier that stretches along the south coast of Long Island starting with The Rockaways and ending in Southampton. But this part of it — 32 miles long — is a bit wider, making room for the pedestrian streets and houses that make up the towns. No cars are allowed.

I had been for day trips many times over the past decades, but I had never done it by bike. I went this time with my mother and we both loved it. While the ferry can feel like a real getaway, biking is more of an adventure and allows you to explore the different towns, each of which has its own flav. It also means you can arrive and leave on your own schedule, though I do NOT recommend biking out after dark since the path gets rough in spots. (You can see from the lighthouse pic that we *just* made it.)

A note on bathrooms: these beaches do not have them for the most part, but we used the one at Robert Moses on the way in, Atlantique Beach (which is owned by the town of Islip) at midday and the restaurant at dinner.

Also, this is a GREAT trip for kids as long as they are fairly steady bikers. I might switch out Le Dock for Surf’s Out in Kismet, just because of the menu. It’s a bit of a scene there, but there’s a kids menu and you order at the window and pick up yourself to take to your table.

NB: Everyone was wearings masks on the bike path.

 

10 Comments

  1. Please note this article is WRONG to encouarge anyone to attempt to bike ride on Fire Island. The FI comminuties DO NOT connect to each other by bike trails (i.e., some communities are separated by long stretches of wilderness = no trail, just sand) Many of the Eastern FI communities DO NOT permit bike riding. The National Seashore (FINS) advises:…’These are primarily sand roads, which frequently don’t provide a very pleasant or effortless ride. You may find yourself pushing your bike along some stretches of deep sand, and you may expose your bike to salt air. Always remember that you may be sharing the road with much larger vehicles that may not be able to see you./ Please note: Bicycles are not permitted in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness area, on boardwalks or other pedestrian walks at National Park Service properties, and may not be ridden around park marinas.’

    • Sorry, but you can absolutely bike from Robert Moses to Atlantique on paths that are designed for biking and walking. The road between the parking lot and the first town is indeed dirt but it is easily bikeable. And there is even a drop off point for bikes at the end of the parking lot and signage for bikes as well. The paths are not sand — they are concrete or boardwalk — and the only other large vehicles are golf carts driven by maintenance people and the occasional resident. Otis Pike is not accessible by bike from any of the Fire Island towns; it is about six miles east of the last town in the strip. Also, you can’t bike through Point O Woods anyway since it is a private community, so I am not sure how you are imagining a bike route from Robert Moses to Otis Pike…

  2. A few points:

    The furthest East you can bike is Lonleyville, after that its deep sand to trudge through.

    Many FI communities have rather strict rules, and truth be told the reason is to discourage day trippers. In the community I write from (Saltaire, where your lead pic was shot, and also a private community) there is no eating or drinking or coolers allowed on the beach, no drinking of alcohol on the walks, no music playing through the community including the beach. The security staff will break up any group of 10 or more, stop speeding on bikes, as well as mandate mask wearing and social distancing in public. You are supposed to slow your bike down and ring your bell at each and every corner, similar to a stop sign. Offenders for any of the above may be given summons.

    Want to bike from field 5 to Kismet, you’ll be met with open arms! Bike east of that and frankly nobody wants you in their town. Since locals don’t wear helmets we can spot a visitor a mile away!

  3. If you bring your 3- or 10-speed bike out, you may be very disappointed. Aside from peddling through some deep sand that will get into your gears, you can’t bike fast. The walks are narrow and filled with people with wagons, kids, luggage and groceries in tow. In addition, the Fire Island National Seashore often restricts the Berma Road to local residents only, directing all others to the beach. Saltaire has many bike restrictions and Ocean Beach does not allow any bikes in their downtown area all season. Yes, you can drive to Field 5 and bike to Kismet, but you’re better off just walking the sandy road or on the beach to Kismet. People also regularly “borrow” bikes to go from town to town so be sure to lock your bike if you do come.

  4. This is amazing, really. TriBeca citizen writes an informative article about a nice day trip from the City and you get subtle and not-so-subtle messaging to the effect of “we don’t want you biking out here.” “Keep out, you mongol hordes!” Good grief, people. These people commenting here are likely the same ones that march in BLM for inclusiveness no doubt. Be inclusive, love everyone, but please, PLEASE stay away from my country refuge! And stay away from my private school, but I’ll tell you to integrate the schools. Awful.

    Quotes… “Truth be told the reason is to discourage day trippers…” “Offenders for any of the above may be given summons.” “Bike east of that and frankly nobody wants you in their town. Since locals don’t wear helmets we can spot a visitor a mile away!”

  5. My family and I just did the bike ride from Robert Moses Park
    To Atlantique Fire Island today. Really nice ride, super easy for kids. Park all the way east as close to the lighthouse in Parking
    Lot #5. Keep to the right till you get to the dirt road that will
    Lead you past the lighthouse. Avoid pedestrian boardwalks
    Around the lighthouse. The dirt road is easy for mountain bikes,
    However there is a 50 yard patch of sand that is difficult and
    You will have to walk your bike. The first town is Kismet and we rode to Atlantique which is the 4th town in. You can go to the next town of Ocean Beach but you will have to walk your bike for a 100 yards. Ocean Beach does not allow bike riding between
    Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays. The misinformation left by the previous 2 posts is so amusingly false. Great blog
    Tribeccacitzen thanks for your work! Oh we meet some very
    Friendly Fire Island residents, they seemed to like to meet
    Us and we very generous with their advice.

  6. Nice piece marred by horrible comments by snooty NIMBYs who should enjoy what you’ve got now, because with global warming, your exclusionary communities will be underwater in the next 50 or so years.

  7. Just did the bike ride 05/31/21 from Field 5 to Ocean Bay Park and it was wonderful! Ate lunch at Schooner’s and shopped in the shops at Ocean Beach. Wonderful day.
    Had to walk between Atlantique and Ocean Beach but worth it. Nice beach day with good sights and good food and a great workout!

  8. Thanks for all your info (both good and bad) Was wondering about whether Burma road was paved or concrete or just dirt road. I have a mountain bike, so it shouldn’t be a problem. I remember it being primarily dirt road from a couple years back. Can you ride your bike or walk it down that first ped. boardwalk adjacent to the eastern most part of the parking lot?

    • I only went from Field 5 to Atlantique on the paths, but my nephew is a lifeguard in Ocean Bay Park and commutes there from Field 5 by bike regularly. He rides his mountain bike on the beach.

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