How to Travel to From New York City to Fire Island by Train, Car, and Ferry

Sunrise over a beach on Fire Island, New York

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Fire Island, an Atlantic Ocean barrier island 60 miles east of New York City, sits off the southern shore of Long Island. It's a popular outdoor recreation destination known for protected beaches and resort communities. Fire Island is home to Robert Moses State Park on the west end and Smith Point County Park on the east end. In the middle of the 31-mile island, accessible only by ferry, are 17 car-free communities—most of which are strictly residential with only a few offering shops and nightlife.

With the exception of service and emergency vehicles, cars are not permitted to drive throughout the island. You can drive to either end of the island, but there are no paved roads between these two points. If you drive to the ends of the island you can visit the Fire Island Lighthouse from Robert Moses State Park and the Fire Island Wilderness Visitor Center.

How to Get From New York City to Fire Island
  Time Cost Best For
Train 2 hours from $11 Easy transfer from NYC
Car 1 hour, 45 minutes 60 miles Freedom to leave on your own schedule

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From New York City to Fire Island?

At first glance, it may seem cheaper to take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to Fire Island, but the train will only get you as close as Babylon Station, which is 8 miles away from Robert Moses State Park, and you'll encounter additional costs to make it the rest of the way via taxi, ferry, or a combination of both. If you take the toll free route along I-495, it's actually more cost-effective to drive yourself, but you will have to pay for parking and you won't be able to use your car on the island.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From New York City to Fire Island?

The fastest way to Fire Island may depend on your circumstances. New York is a large city with a complex road system, so to determine the quickest route to Fire Island, you have to look at two things: your starting point and the traffic report. For example, if you are leaving from the Bronx at a time where there is not a lot of traffic, you should be able to drive to Fire Island in less than 2 hours. However, if you are leaving from Times Square on the Friday before Fourth of July Weekend, you are bound to get stuck in gridlock traffic and taking the train from Penn Station would be the faster alternative.

Is There a Bus That Goes From New York City to Fire Island?

There is no direct bus service that you can take from New York City to Fire Island. It's possible to take a series of buses to Islip, but this would require making two transfers and would exceed the cost of the train. Plus, you would still need to use a taxi or ferry to travel the rest of the way from Islip to Fire Island, which is about 12 miles away.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Fire Island?

New York City and Long Island experience all four seasons, which means snowy winters and hot and humid summers. Fire Island is a seasonal destination, which means most local businesses won't even be fully operational until the late spring. The best time to visit Fire Island is during the summer, when it's hot enough to enjoy the beach, but you may want to plan your visit between Monday and Friday to avoid the weekend crowds.

Where Do the Ferries Leave From?

Ferries access Fire Island from three Long Island towns: Bay Shore, Patchogue, and Sayville. If you are traveling to the largely gay communities of Cherry Grove or Fire Island Pines, your best bet is the Sayville Ferry Service. The ferry also takes passengers to Sailors Haven and Sunken Forest, within the Fire Island National Seashore, and the Fire Island community of Water Island.

The Davis Park Ferry out of Patchogue goes to Watch Hill, a National Park Service site, while the Fire Island Ferries out of Bay Shore run to westernmost Fire Island (Ocean Beach, Ocean Bay Park, Saltaire, Kismet, Fair Harbor, Dunewood, and Seaview). Ferry service is limited outside of the summer high season, but not non-existent. Off-season visits to enjoy a weekend of solitude or to shop for next summer’s share house are possible.

What Is There to Do on Fire Island?

Fire Island is primarily a beach destination, but figuring out how to get around the island without a car is half the fun of going there. Bicycles and golf carts are two of the primary ways to get around the island.

If you like hiking, you can walk to Fire Island from Robert Moses State Park, which is located at the westernmost end of the Fire Island landmass. You will first intersect Kismet, then Saltaire; Cherry Grove and the Pines are a ways to go beyond that.

Among the fun beach activities, travelers can also add a little adventure to their trip by going parasailing. The long skinny shape of this island also means that there is no shortage of space for restaurants and bars, like Top of the Bay and Flynn's, to offer ocean-view dining along with their daily offerings of fresh-caught seafood.

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