Many residents of the Northeast have never heard of Block Island, and those who have may not make the effort to visit. Block Island sits in the Atlantic Ocean past the easternmost tip of Long Island, south of mainland Rhode Island. Think about green rolling hills, fields of wildflowers, dramatic cliffs, rugged beaches, and endless views of the azure sea. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
How to Get There
Here’s your main obstacle. Unless you own a boat, or have a helipad waiting for you, you’ll be getting on a ferry. You can catch one from Point Judith, RI ($23.85 round-trip); New London, CT ($45 round-trip); Newport, RI ($50.50 round-trip); Fall River, MA ($60 round-trip); or Montauk, NY ($75 round-trip). Depending on where you embark, this could be the most expensive ferry you’ve ever taken, unless you’re a veteran of the $170 ride from Key West to Dry Tortugas.
Take note, Block Island has two ferry landings: Old Harbor and New Harbor. If you and a traveling partner are arriving at different locations, there are taxis to shuttle you back and forth.
What to Do
Renting a bike is a must—if you’re disembarking at the Old Harbor, skip the bike rental that’s right off the ferry and head over to Island Moped and Bike Rentals. Parts of the island are hilly, and if your quads are like mine, this will present some difficulty, but it’s worth the effort to breeze along in that fresh saltwater air, instead of being stuck in a car.
Ride out to the Southeast Lighthouse (built 1875), get your Lighthouse Society passport stamped, and enjoy the stunning view. Then get an even better look from Mohegan Bluffs next door. Take the stairs all the way down (200 feet) to the beach and soak in this pristine, sandy-yet-rocky, wind-swept oceanfront—only in New England.
When you make it back to town, get yourself some saltwater taffy (it’s pretty much everywhere), then fried clams and a glass of wine at Finn’s overlooking the Old Harbor. If you’re scheduled to head back to the mainland that same day, you might find yourself looking for a B&B. Keep in mind, like in any beautiful, isolated place, prices can be very steep ($200/night is not unusual) and many hotels have two- or even three-night minimums. Book early during the peak summer season.
What to Bring
Much is expensive on the island, so it’s best to bring your bathing suit, towel, sunscreen, sandals, a reusable water bottle, a cardigan for breezy evenings, and good shoes for walking or biking. The Block Island ferry may cross some choppy, turbulent waters, so bring your Dramamine if you’re prone to motion sickness.
What’s been your experience on Block Island?