I’ve been away from my writing for a while now, and I feel a bit guilty about it. I guess I’ve been having too much fun. I’ve been on vacation for about a month and a half–okay, not every single day of those 45-ish days–but almost every weekend. I’ve been in my happy place. One of the few places where, for me, a passport isn’t the key to a total escape. Fire Island is this happy place (and not just mine), and it’s a small (31 miles long, to be precise) piece of paradise just off of Long Island, NY, with approximately 292 year-round residents and 25-30 towns/villages/communities with names like Kismet, Loneleyville, Fair Harbor, and Cherry Grove. The town in which my friends and I find perpetual pleasure and beachside bliss is Ocean Beach, home to bayside bars and restaurants, a small village oozing with charm, and our hard-to-find, harder-to-leave share house, with a wraparound deck that is a seashell’s throw away from the ocean.
These are some of the many reasons I love it:
10. Deer as friendly as puppies. Okay, so you can’t pet them like puppies (ticks and all), but you’ll never get as close to deer anywhere as you will here, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch sightings of the babies, in all their spotted, furry adorable-ness.
9. The ferry. You can only reach most of Fire Island by ferry, and a 30 minute ride takes you to Ocean Beach, where you really will feel a million miles away.
8. Wagons. We don’t get from place to place via car in Fire Island (but I’ll get to that), so everyone transports everything via wagon. Those adorable, classic Radio Flyers you remember from childhood, although many are not red, but painted the color of the houses they transport goods to and from.
7. Happy Hour. You’ll often hear Ocean Beach regulars saying “See you at Mermaids happy hour?”, and they’re referring to a restaurant/bar directly on the bay where you can sip frozen daiquiris and chocolate martinis while sitting directly on the bar and watching the sunset. It’s perfection.
6. The sunset. It’s glorious. No one knows the exact derivation of the name “Fire Island”, as it officially dates back to 1789. I believe the name comes from the island’s spectacular sunsets, which rival any in the world, and make the sky look like it’s truly on fire.
5. No shoes, no problem. I never wear shoes in Fire Island. Okay, I wear them at night to the bars, but I usually take them off. And I’d never dream of wearing heels. I have a very vivid memory of visiting the island when I was seven years old and seeing a woman in a business suit walk off the ferry, put down her briefcase, and immediately take her shoes off for her walk to her house.
4. Rocket fuels. Invented at CJ’s in Ocean Beach, now served almost everywhere (on Fire Island), these are pina colada’s made with Bacardi 151 and topped with amaretto. Delicious, deadly, and a nightly necessity.
3. The nightlife. There are about 8 bars in Ocean Beach, and not one of them is chic. There’s beer all over the floors, decks overflow with people and music, and you see the same people at the same bars all the time. Which is a good thing.
2. NO CARS. That’s right, none. During the summer months, the only mode of transportation is a bicycle or your feet. No traffic, no designated driving, no taxis, no worries.
1. No chain stores of any kind. You will never see a Starbucks, a Gap, a Subway, or a Jamba Juice. If you want pizza (and damn good pizza), you go to Town Pizza. If you want a sandwich, you go to Whitney’s Market. And if you want a Grande Mocha Latte, you go somewhere else.