Fire Island National Seashore

Fire Island National Seashore

Quick Facts

Fire Island National Seashore

New York

(631) 687-4750

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Pristine ocean shores, an ancient maritime forest, legacies of lighthouse keepers, and the historic estate of William Floyd are just a few of the recreational, natural, and cultural resources of Fire Island National Seashore.

Located only one hour east of New York City, this park offers visitors many types of relaxation and educational opportunities. Whether you prefer backpacking or birdwatching, sunbathing or a school group tour, many adventures await you at Fire Island!

Fire Island National Seashore was established "for the purpose of conserving and preserving for the use of future generations certain relatively unspoiled and undeveloped beaches, dunes, and other natural features ... which possess high values to the Nation as examples of unspoiled areas of great natural beauty in close proximity to large concentrations of urban population." Public Law 88-587 (Sept. 11, 1964).

Map of Fire Island

Latitude, Longitude: 40.641878, -73.166653

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Activities

  • Boating

    You can enjoy a variety of boating opportunities within Fire Island National Seashore. Motorboats and sailboats are common summer adornments on the Great South Bay. Canoes and kayaks are less common, but may be safely used close to the shoreline.

    The use of personal watercraft (PWCs)--also known as "Jet Skis"--is restricted within the boundaries of Fire Island. PWCs may only be operated in the channels to some of the Fire Island communities.

    You may stay overnight at the Watch Hill or Sailors Haven marina, operated within Fire Island National Seashore by Fire Island Concessions, LLC. Both electric and non-electric sites are available, and rates vary by size of vessel. There is a 14-day limit of stay at National Park Service marinas.

    Other public marinas on Fire Island include the Town of Brookhaven's Davis Park Marina and Great Gun Marina (see map), which provide lower fees for town residents but may accommodate non-residents' vessels; hourly rates may also be available at these facilities. The Town of Islip also maintains a marina on Fire Island at Atlantique, with a similar rate structure. Private marinas on Fire Island include those at Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, (which have seasonal and limited transient slips) and several establishments that provide a place to dock on a short-term basis.

    You may also anchor off-shore, outside of channels. There is a 14-consecutive-day limit for all overnight stays in the park (except in the designated wilderness) or at park facilities.

  • Camping

    A small walk-in campground is located at Watch Hill beyond the marina and behind the dunes. It is available from mid-May through mid-October. Wilderness camping in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness is available all year, but heat and abundant ticks and mosquitoes make this a less desirable option during the summer. A permit is required and restrictions are enforced. You must hike at least 1½ miles in from the wilderness boundary, and carry out everything you've taken in with you. You can enter the wilderness area from either Watch Hill or Smith Point (beyond the Wilderness Visitor Center).

    Watch Hill Campground

    The Watch Hill Campground has 26 tent sites and one group campsite. Most sites have a sandy base, so you'll need appropriately long tent stakes. There is one universally accessible site on a raised platform.

    Accessible by private boat or ferry, Watch Hill is located directly across the Great South Bay from Patchogue, and the campground is a 1/4-mile walk from the ferry dock. Campground is within walking distance of visitor center, marina, general store, ocean beach (lifeguarded during summer months), showers and bathhouse, nature trails, and Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness.

    Each site can accommodate as many as 8 people, but no more than 5 may be adults. (At least one person at the site must be 21.) Two small tents may be accommodated on most sites.

    At Watch Hill there is one group campsite which can accommodate up to 40 individuals in a bona fide not-for-profit organized group. On the sandy soil at this location, you'll need appropriately long tent stakes.

    Accessible by private boat or ferry, Watch Hill is located directly across the Great South Bay from Patchogue, and the campground is a 1/4-mile walk from the ferry dock. Campground is within walking distance of visitor center, marina, general store, ocean beach (lifeguarded during summer months), showers and bathhouse, nature trails, and Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness.

    You must obtain a permit before camping within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness area. Wilderness Area Camping

    Open All Year Recommended late fall through early spring

    Wilderness camping (backpacking) is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness area, but you must be prepared for ticks, mosquitoes and heat if you intend to camp during the summer. A required permit can be obtained at the Watch Hill Visitor Center.

  • Fishing

    Surf-fishing is an activity you can enjoy throughout the year on Fire Island. When ferry service is limited or the boating season is over, you may still drive to either end of the island for access to the beach.

    Individuals have not previously needed a license for saltwater fishing, but New York State recreational saltwater fishing seasons, size and possession limits apply.

    A New York State recreational marine fishing license is required after October 1, 2009. Commercial fishing is not allowed within the boundaries of Fire Island National Seashore.

    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation maintains two artificial fishing reefs in the Great South Bay, and several in the Atlantic Ocean south of Fire Island.

    Nearby Captree State Park--on the eastern end of Jones Beach Island and north of the Fire Island Inlet--offers access to several charter fishing boats. Boat ramps for private vessels are also available at Captree and several other nearby state parks, and at Smith Point County Park.

    Fishing is not permitted in Fire Island National Seashore's marinas, nor at designated lifeguarded swimming beaches. Unauthorized vessels are not permitted within 300 feet of the Fire Island Lighthouse Pier.

    Sportsman's Recreational Vehicle Permits are sold in the fall when beach conditions permit, as a means of access for fishing or hunting. Stringent restrictions apply.

  • Hiking

    Fire Island National Seashore offers several opportunities for hiking, from short 1½ mile strolls around the boardwalks at Watch Hill and Sailors Haven, to longer walks down the beach and through the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness. Please always remember to carry water and be prepared for poison ivy, ticks, mosquitoes, and sun or other elements.

  • Hunting

    Fire Island National Seashore provides limited opportunities for waterfowl hunting. You must first obtain a hunting permit from the Seashore. (Permits can be issued at the Wilderness Visitor Center or, when staff is available, at the West District Checkpoint, 631-661-2556.)

    Before you stop by for your permit, you must possess the following documents: valid New York state hunting license, signed federal "duck stamp" (for hunters age 16 and older), valid state driving license, confirmation number from the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP), and New York State HIP.

    Upon request of the Fire Island National Seashore, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or New York Department of Environmental Conservation staff, all persons are required to show their bag. All applicable provisions of New York conservation law and federal regulations shall be in effect. Non-toxic shot is required for waterfowl hunting. Possession or use of shells loaded with shot other than steel, bismuth/tin, tungsten/iron or other shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is strictly prohibited when hunting waterfowl. A shotgun with the capability of holding more than three shells is required to be plugged with a one piece filler which is incapable of removal without disassembling the gun. Fire Island National Seashore's East End Hunting Area is adjacent to the park's Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness. A sportsman's recreational vehicle driving permit may be used to access the beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of wilderness area from September 15 through December 31, but access to the bay side of the island is by foot or shallow-draft vessel only. Waterfowl hunting is permitted only from Hayhole Point (west of the Wilderness Visitor Center and boardwalk) to Long Cove (east of Watch Hill). No hunting is allowed from the small bay islands north of Fire Island in this area. A portion of the Pattersquash Gun Club's hunting rights are within the boundaries of Fire Island National Seashore.

    Fire Island's West End Hunting Area is restricted to shoreline waterfowl hunting from East Fire Island, West Fire Island, and Sexton Island.

    Both areas are Carry-In/Carry-Out, so please plan to "Leave No Trace."

  • Picnicking

    Bring along your own food and drink. Fire Island National Seashore is a carry-in, carry-out park, so please plan to pack out your trash. Also be respectful of restrictions in some communities where food and drink are not allowed on the beach or in other areas.

  • Water Sports

    Canoeing, boating, and fishing are a few of the water-based activities you may find in Great South Bay, along salt marshes, between Watch Hill and Smith Point. Interpretive programs are offered at all sites, although schedules vary by season. For ocean beach recreation, lifeguards are on duty at Watch Hill and Sailors Haven from late-June through Labor Day.

    During the summer, Fire Island National Seashore provides opportunities for supervised swimming at two lifeguarded beaches, at Sailors Haven and at Watch Hill, which are both accessible by ferry or private boat.

    With additional National Park Service (NPS)Centennial Initiative funding in 2008 and 2009, weekend lifeguard service has been added to Barrett Beach.

    NPS lifeguarded beaches are normally staffed daily from late June through Labor Day weekend. Additional weekend days may be added before and after the summer season if staffing and weather conditions permit.

    Several of the Fire Island communities also have seasonal lifeguarded beaches.

    If you'd like to drive to a lifeguarded beach on Fire Island, try Smith Point County Park and Robert Moses State Park. Both have large capacity parking lots, changing rooms and showers, snack bars, and a small playground for children.

    Be prepared to carry back whatever you have brought to the beach with you. Remember: it will probably feel a lot heavier after a full day in the sun. So pack all that you'll need, but not more than you can comfortably carry. To get to Watch Hill or Sailors Haven beaches, you must walk more than a quarter of a mile from the ferry dock or marina. Plan to carry back everything you've brought over, which includes beach chairs and umbrellas if you wish to use them.

    Glass containers are not allowed on the beach. Pets may not be brought onto the lifeguarded beaches.

    Fire Island National Seashore's beaches are "Carry-In/Carry-Out." Garbage containers are deliberately not provided on the beach to discourage the "loitering" of gulls, mice, deer, and other animals that would be attracted to trash. Thank you for helping keep the beach clean.

    For Your Safety: Be sure to avoid overexposure to the sun. Always use caution in or around the water. Never swim alone. Learn to recognize rip currents.

Seasonality/Weather

Fire Island National Seashore's weather can vary widely between the island and the mainland of Long Island. Historically, seasonal temperatures have ranged from below zero during December, January, February, and March to over 100º in August. Average temperatures in this maritime climate are much more moderate, however.

The fall and winter months along the coast are relatively cool and dry, with brief periods of rain. Spring along the coast can be cool and windy. Summers on Fire Island are typically warm and humid.

Annual precipitation averages 38.9" with the distribution being relatively consistent throughout the year.

The Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1 through November 30, with most major storms occurring during the late summer or early fall.

Fire Island has a temperate climate. The park's air temperature may be slightly cooler in summer or warmer in winter than on the mainland of Long Island. Layered clothing is always recommended. Check the predicted weather conditions before coming to Fire Island. Ferry schedules may change and some programs may be canceled or postponed in poor weather conditions.

Park Partners

Fire Island Concessions, LLC.

Watch Hill, located on Fire Island across the Great South Bay from Patchogue, NY, is the starting point for a variety of outdoor experiences, ranging from ocean swimming to backcountry hiking to bird watching. Watch Hill contains a marina, visitor center, nature trail, and seasonally life-guarded beaches. Campground facilities include running water, grills, showers and bathrooms. The campground contains 26 sand sites, including one that is universally accessible. The Pier Restaurant and Snack Bar make for a great lunch or dinner, and the Tiki Bar is a fun place to hang out at night. The general store also provides many comforts. Visit Watch Hill for a day at the beach or stay longer and relax for a few days.

(631) 597-3109

Directions

Driving

There are only two bridges to Fire Island National Seashore. The Robert Moses Causeway on the western end of Fire Island leads to parking lots at Robert Moses State Park. The William Floyd Parkway leads to Smith Point County Park on the eastern end of Fire Island, where there are also parking lots. Parking fees are charged at both lots. There are no public roads on the island itself. Park Headquarters is located in Patchogue, NY. Especially on sunny summer weekends, you may want to consider carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles competing for the limited parking space at the ferry terminals or state and county parking lots.

Flying

You can fly into LaGuardia or Kennedy Airports in New York City or Islip Macarthur Airport on Long Island, then use a rental car, taxi, or train to your destination.

Public Transportation

Long Island railroad stations are near three ferry terminals: Patchogue, Sayville, and Bay Shore. Contact the Long Island Railroad for train schedules. Ferries to Fire Island depart from the following locations: Patchogue, Sayville, and Bay Shore. Many Fire Island sites can be reached by private boat.

If you're uncomfortable driving through New York City to get to Long Island, you may be able to reach the island by taking the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson vehicle ferry from Bridgeport, Connecticut to Port Jefferson, NY. Route 112 then crosses Long Island to Patchogue, usually less than an hour's drive south.

The Cross Sound Ferry links New London, CT with Orient Point, NY, on the easternmost end of Long Island. Allow at least 2 hours to drive from Orient Point to Patchogue or Sayville.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(631) 687-4750

Permits

(631) 687-4758

Links