"Fire Island Pines: Most Wonderful Place on Earth" Fire Island Pines by von.otter

Fire Island Pines Travel Guide: 46 reviews and 208 photos

Fire Island Pines, a community of 700 houses on NY State’s barrier island of Fire Island, is my favorite place on earth. The island is only a quarter mile wide at its widest part, with the Great South Bay to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south

Although it is only 55 miles east from the hustle and bustle of New York City, Fire Island Pines (FIP) is a world away. Primarily because the entire Isle of Fire is vehicle free, the peace and quiet of The Pines (as the community is known to its regulars) is a genuine escape. It is a chance to enjoy the nature of wooded land only steps from the Atlantic Ocean.

The only way to reach all of Fire Island is by passenger ferry. Therefore it is appropriate that the opening photo for this FIP introduction is the ferry sign. To get to The Pines we catch the ferry at Sayville, Long Island. This charming little village on Long Island’s south shore is easily reached on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) from NYC’s Penn Station. Shuttle vans carry passengers between the train station and the ferry dock. Once on the boat your troubles begin to fade, and by the end of the 20-minute ride all thoughts of the outside world have vanished.

The timetables for the ferry departures to The Pines can be found at the Sayville Ferry Service web site, http://www.sayvilleferry.com/. And the schedule for the LIRR trains between NYC and Sayville can be found at http://mta.info/lirr/html/ttn/sayville.htm.

The Pines is primarily a gay community, but everyone is hetero-friendly :-) Cherry Grove, the community immediately to the west of The Pines is also primarily gay. The cluster of communities at the far western end of Fire Island, such as Ocean Beach, Atlantique, Saltaire, Ocean Bay Park, and Lonelyville, attract a straight crowd.

This VirtualTourist tip focuses on The Pines, where I have summered since 1984. Primarily a summer place, accommodations in The Pines are mostly on a rental/share basis. Through real estate brokers house owners rent to groups of people who alternate weekends throughout The Season, which primarily extends from May through September. A small hotel in the harbor, known as Hotel Ciel (formerly the Botel), and a few B&Bs, are the only other means of spending a night or more. Brokers in The Pines can be easily accessed through their web sites. My favorite broker is d. katen fire island properties. ltd. at http://www.fireislandpines.com/common/11003/?clientID=11003

The atmosphere throughout The Pines is relaxed and laid back. This is the beach at its beachiest. There is nothing fancy-schmancy about this gloried sand dune. It is not the Hamptons, thank God!

This map helps place Fire Island Pines in context. Also shown are Sayville, the small South Shore village from where we catch the ferry to The Pines, and some of the western communities on Fire Island mentioned above.

Fire Island is a National Seashore, part of America’s National Park system. It entered the Park system in 1964. With The Pines and other communities already well established by this time these commercial/residential areas were allowed to remain in place but new construction is limited and must follow certain guidelines.

Von.otter stands on the roof deck of that fabulous gift shop Summer Solstice as a Saturday mid-day ferry enters the harbor at Fire Island Pines. Mid-May sees few visitors on a Saturday afternoon, thus the upper deck of the ferry carries few passengers. Weather permitting, I always like to ride the ferry on its upper deck.

Sadly, most people think of The Pines strictly as a summer place. For me it has always been a year-round destination; although tougher to reach in the off-season because ferry service is severely cut back. The feeling of isolation, the peace and quiet, the sense of relaxation and retreat from the world before the crowds arrive and after they leave are heightened in the off-season. It is wonderful!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:It is isolated but civilized; it is peaceful but exciting.
  • Cons:I have to leave each Monday morning!
  • In a nutshell:If you like the beach and the ocean, you will be captivated by The Pines.
  • Last visit to Fire Island Pines: Jul 2011
  • Intro Updated Jul 5, 2011
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Reviews (39)

Comments (3)

  • KiKitC's Profile Photo
    Feb 18, 2010 at 3:00 AM

    Sounds fun and peaceful. Birthday wishes from your Jersey pines neighbor.

  • Jan 24, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    What a delight to visit with you in Fire Island Pines.... Thank you for sharing!.. :-)

  • SOLODANCER's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    Philip, one of my favorite places as well on earth and certainly in NYC! Must visit again this summer. Great fotos, gad those coiffed drag queens are a riot!

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