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Fire Island—NYC Beaches


by Douglas Singleton

A good day trip outside New York City, Fire Island has something for everyone; a variety of communities and several beaches.

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Early one morning summers ago someone I cared deeply for and I decided to take a day trip out to Fire Island. We took the Long Island Railroad out to Sayville and then a ferry ride from there out to the island.
Here we bought bread and cheese, some tomato, and then walked out to the beach where we remained the whole day.We swam intermittently, ate, read, and lay out together.
It was a warm day and the swimming was good. She wore yellow. When the sun began to set we folded up our blankets and skipped back to the ferry and then slept on the train ride back to Manhattan. It was a fine day, one I'll never forget.
Fire Island is nice because it's a good day trip by train outside of New York City. You have to take a ferry from Long Island to get there.
The island is quaint in that there are no cars allowed. People walk and bike everywhere and drag carts around (some people drive golf carts). The houses are grandiose beach shacks, many intricately designed but homey. There are no streets or addresses, just quirky names on houses like “Loony Dunes” and “Blues & Sun.”
The beaches are some of the most beautiful in New York and rarely have many people on them. The island is tricky in that many of its beaches are “open communities,” meaning that anyone can go out to them, but others are “private communities” with private beaches (where the wealthy live).
Some friends and I often stay out in Kismet, the earthy community at the bottom of the island. I don't want to call Kismet working-class but it is very down-to-earth with very few community “rules.”
Other communities on the island are like country clubs. Ocean Beach is the biggest town on the island and is the place to go for fun. The beach there looks like something out of southern California and the “town” itself is one of the few places on the island where there is a selection of seaside restaurants and bars to frequent. There is even a movie theater. Along with the gay towns of Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove, Ocean Beach is the place most people go for day trips.
All I can say about Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines is that the one summer I found myself in each I witnessed some of the wildest parties I've seen in my life-and I've seen a lot of parties.
Many of the other communities are a different world though—you hike, lay on the beach, swim, cook.
The lighthouse at the tip of the island separates Fire Island from the strip of land that leads to Robert Moses State Park and is a really nice hiking visit.
To take a walk around this patch of land is to reach a consciousness most unlike anything you ever experience in the city, which is the point I guess. I can't express enough how calming it is to be on a beach taking in the sound of the waves. It is a natural form of yoga, and I live for it.

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