Tips and Tricks for Bike Riding on Fire Island

During the summer months, you will find good times are in excess on Fire Island. From boogie boarding and surfing to shopping in ocean beach, and great seafood at Ocean Beach and the surrounding town’s restaurants, you’ll be hard pressed to run out of things to do.

However, if you’re looking for more of an adventure than a stroll through one of the towns provides, Fire Island offers some excellent opportunities for bike riding throughout the Island.

Even if you’re just looking for a leisurely adventure, the weekend is a great time to take out the beach cruiser and hop on some of the famed concrete and wood paved walks that bring you close to blueberry bushes and local greenery between the great South Bay and the ocean worth of many small alcoves. Some paths provide twists and turns, will others are smooth and straight, so you can pick which one is best for the kind of ride you’re looking for.

Here are our tips for getting the best out of your Fire Island biking experience.

Be Prepared

Many of the passenger ferries prohibit bringing bikes on board. If you’re bringing your own, check the freight ferry schedules for passage. Please note, most of the freight ferries charge a fee for bringing your bike along with you. We also suggest you equip your bike with fat tires or tires meant for the sandy terrain. Otherwise, your bike ride will consist of a lot of walking.

It is also important to keep in mind that not all towns allow bikes riding within the town limits, as Fire Island is mostly pedestrian foot traffic. Be sure to check in with each town you enter or enter the island nearest to the bike trail you are headed for.

If you aren’t bringing your own bike, there are several locations near the trails where bikes are available for rent.

The Trails

Our first recommended trail passes the 1858 Fire Island Lighthouse, which looks out over the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Start at the Robert Moses Park Field 5 lot.  If you don’t have tires equip for sand, ride north towards the main road and then east towards the Fire Island Light House.

If you have a bike that can handle loose sand, head south towards the beach. From here, you can ride along the beach the whole way. Be sure to avoid riding over the wooden boardwalks around the lighthouse, as they are for pedestrians only.

If you are looking for an easier ride, start near the town of Kismet. After this point on the island, the main road, which allows for bikes, is a much easier ride. This path will take you all the way to Fair Harbor, and you won’t have to worry about trekking through loose sand.

After you reach Fair Harbor, you’ll encounter another half mile of loose sand that leads to Ocean Beach.

The sunken forest is also a wonderfully scenic ride, located between Point o’ Woods and Sailors Haven. Much like the beach riding, though, be prepared with tires that can handle loose sand and off-road environments.

The best part of riding your bike on Fire Island is you can’t possibly get lost! The island is a slim strip of land with only 2 real directions to go. If the paths become impassable using a bike, you’re going the wrong way. Happy riding!

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Flooding on the streets of Fire Island.

After Hurricane Sandy in 2013, the historic hurricane wrecked many parts of Fire Island. Fire Island was able to cleanup from debris and damage. Much of Fire Island was saved by the sand dunes, protecting 4,500 homes. The tallest waves reached about 9.6 meters high with damaging winds of 90 mph. Without the use of Fire Island’s strategic sand dunes for a majority of the Island, the Island would have been devastated. Many more businesses, homes and property would have been completely destroyed. Unfortunately, the parts that were not blocked by sand dunes encountered a lot of damage.


The breach made by Hurricane Sandy.

The storm caused two major breaches, and Fire Island was cut in two. One of the breaches was in Smith Point County Park. The other breach was within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness.

There were originally 4 breaches on fire island, but two of the breaches were labeled as non-threatening “wash-overs”. One of the critical breaches is in the Smith County Point area. The photo on the right is a breach in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness in Old Inlet.



Houses and businesses were devastated and under water. Fire Island suffered tremendous damage from the high winds and flooding of the storm. Waves at its peak read 9.6 meters from a wave buoy off fire Island. Extensive beach erosion caused half of Fire Island’s beaches and sand dunes to be washed away, losing 54 percent of the island’s volume. This left the island more vulnerable to winter storms. During the upcoming winter, Fire Island shifted inland by 189 feet. Only 18 percent of the island’s volume before Sandy had returned by the Spring.


Shipwreck on Fire Island. Photo Credit: Cheryl Hapke / USGS.

Hurricane Sandy is considered the most devastating storm since 1938. Following Superstorm Sandy, a 90 year old shipwreck on fire island was uncovered 4 miles east of Davis Park. Although the ship has not been identified, the Long Island Maritime Museum claimed it to be a post-Civil War Cargo vessel that had been built before 1880. However, the public affairs specialist for the National park, Paula Valentine, claims it to be the 90-year old shipwreck Bessie White. As it is rare to see a shipwreck exposed from a storm, the erosion from Sandy caused a majority of the ship to come ashore. Although it may take time to learn more about the ship, unveiling a treasure like this on Fire Island is something you don’t see everyday.


Fire Island Coming Together

The re-opened Palms Hotel.

Stories from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy varied from devastating tales of floodwater destroying neighborhoods and businesses to uplifting stories about communities coming together to help one another. Despite the tragedy of the storm, there was a bright side. Fire Island truly came together as a community to help rebuild the damage.

The community helped to bring Fire Island back to the bustling place it used to be. Municipal officials, residents of the Island and local business owners all helped out to bring the island back to what it is today. Federal assistance also helped Fire Island to rebuild and be protected from future storms.

One touching story of hope after Fire Island was a story of two business owners seeing light in through the dark times of the storm. Many of the businesses were forced to close, but Laura Mercogliano and her husband Chris sought to open the doors to their hotel that summer in 2013. They didn’t want the storm to impact their plans. As some saw hurricane Sandy as a loss, the Mercogliano saw it as a potential for new plans to unveil with their hotel. Their hotel called The Palms Hotel, unveiled their new Presidential Penthouse Suite (with 1200 sq. ft) that summer.

Since Fire Island is a barrier beach, it is often rebuilding itself over and over. Fire Island was able to go through the storm which only made the community stronger. Since fire Island was able to absorb the impact of a large area of the Island with the sand dunes, residents decided to refinance another sand dune project just a few years ago. Future storms may happen, but Fire Island will always pick itself back up again.


Love Fire Island? Want to win a free Fire Island t-shirt? Then you came to the right place! For summer 2017 we are holding a special contest to put free Fire Island merchandise in your hands, so you can celebrate the majestic shores of Fire Island no matter where you go.





How do you enter to win an awesome, fashionable Fire Island t-shirt?

1. Download our mobile app. It’s free for Summer 2017, so get it while it lasts!
2. Use our app to take a photo of the beautiful Fire Island town you are visiting.
3. Write an awe-inspiring description of the Fire Island town you’re in and a caption for your photo.
4. Use our mobile app to post the image, description, and caption directly to our Facebook and Twitter, including #FireIsland2017



How Do You Win?

The winner will be picked based on the numbers of likes and shares the image receives on Facebook and Twitter combined. The top five photos will be our top five winners! So, be sure to share and retweet your photo to your friends and family to increase your odds of winning!

The grand prize will be a $100 Amazon gift card and we are also giving out two of our incredible Fire Island t-shirts, which come in a variety of colors, designs, and sizes.

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How Long Do I Have?

Our contest is running from July 1st until August 30th, so if you’re not visiting Fire Island for another couple of weeks, no worries! You will have plenty of time to capture your very own stunning image and upload it through our mobile app.

Live on Fire Island? Feel free to upload as many amazing photos as you like! The more photos you share, the more likely are to make it into our top 5.

If you’re not going to be on Fire Island in the next several months, don’t despair! We will have several different ways to participate in our contest every month this summer. Be sure to check out our website and mobile app each month for new ways to enter.

Can’t wait for the contest to be over? Check out our store for Fire Island hats and t-shirts! Our designers are always creating new, amazing Fire Island designs that can be worn all year long, so be sure to check back in the future!

Sometimes, racing to catch the ferry can feel like a scene from a James Bond movie. Check out the video below to see what a life saver the Fire Island mobile app is!



Ready to enter? You can download our mobile app here.

Don’t forget, our mobile app isn’t just for winning awesome t-shirts! The Fire Island mobile app provides updated ferry and train schedules. Our app is safe, accurate, and eco-friendly! Whether you live on the island or are just visiting, the Fire Island mobile app is your go-to for transportation.


Check Out our amazing T-Shirt Designs in our store now!

First 100 Customers get 25% off when they use coupon code: FIRE25


Images must be uploaded through our mobile app, not posted directly to our social media pages. All images must be original, current images captured by you and must be a location on Fire Island. We reserve the right to use any and all images uploaded for the contest on our website and social media platforms. We ask that winners share a photo of themselves with their prize through our mobile app. Our mobile app is only available in the iTunes store and is not compatible with Android users.
Users not able to access our mobile app may post images to social media and include the #FireIsland2017 with a link to to be considered for the contest. Winners to be picked at the end of August. Void where prohibited. Winners must live in the continental USA and submit a valid shipping address – no P.O. boxes. You must be 18 years or older.

2012 – During hurricane Sandy, Fire Island put to use their unique system of sand dunes. While the hurricane destroyed some of the oceanfront properties, the dunes served their purpose. The wave heights at the tallest reached 9.6 meters high with winds averaging at about 90mph. The consequences could have been far more devastating if it weren’t for the sand dunes that shielded most of the island’s 4,500 homes. The sand dunes were 10 to 20 feet high, and absorbed most of the impact. Other areas on Fire Island that did not have sand dunes, were not as fortunate with the outcome of the storm and had their homes destroyed. Since Fire Island had such an advanced system of sand dunes, new dunes were replaced just a few years ago after Fire Island residents agreed to refinance the project.

2013 – Blizzard Nemo hit Long Island, with 30 inches of snow. Almost 10,000 businesses and homes on Long Island lost power. The ferry service was suspended during this time, limiting transportation to and from the Island.

2014 – A Nor’easter came to shore on Fire Island. Freezing water and flooding flooded streets and caused damage to homes. The flooding was over two feet on Ocean Beach in Fire Island, making roads impassable. Almost 100 people were stranded during the time, and all passenger and freight service on Fire Island were suspended. The sand dunes were leveled, which flooded streets and destroyed docks and property.

2015 – Winter storm Juno halted transportation on Fire Island. Flights were cancelled and the Long Island Rail Road was down. Fire Island had about 2 feet of snow and 60 mph winds. Roads were barely passable, and residents were urged to stay home. Major coastal flooding was caused from the storm, which created dangerous waves that ripped apart docks, scraped away beaches and exposed pipes and utility cables along the shore.

2016 – Winter Storm Jonas caused high surf from heavy winds. An hour after high tide, waves were blocked by trap bags.  The tide caused low level erosion and hit the sand fencing. Fortunately, the high tide quickly left. The winds from the winter storm made powerful waves, but the trap bags did their job at protecting the island from further damage. Nearly 2 feet of snow from the storm blanketed the entire Island.

2017 – The Fire Island beach dried up after tidal flooding due to a nor’easter. Streets were flooded with about a foot of water, which required a few days to cleanup. Flooding with high winds of 40 mph along with snow, sleet and ice caused road closures. There was no access to the ferry on Fire Island. A lot of the flooding could have been prevented with new bulks and dockheads. Many people lost power, and snowfall up to 3 inches per hour were observed.


Storms of The Past:

1693 -A Major hurricane in 1693 caused severe damage to Long Island. Due to high winds and strong waves, the Fire Island Cut was created.

1938 – The New England Hurricane of 1938, also known as the Long Island Express, hit Suffolk County. The category 3 hurricane had 18 ft waves, wind gusts of 125 mph and washed ashore destroying many houses on the water. There were 8,900 houses and 2,600 boats destroyed, with 60 deaths just in New York. Total deaths including surrounding states were 682. The damages were estimated at 4.7 billion. 35 percent of New England’s trees were wiped out by the storm. Due to the lack of technology to track a Hurricane, residents were not warned of the storm and there were no evacuations ordered.

1961 – Hurricane Esther hit Suffolk County in 1961, causing coastal flooding, winds gusts of 108 mph and 260,000 homes went without power. The tropical Cyclone was the first storm to be discovered on satellite imagery. The damage cost 3 million in 1961, which is now equivalent to about 20 million. The tides were from 4-6 inches on Long Island, and as a result of the storm, a Navy Plane crashed North of Bermuda.

Fire Island has come a long way with preparing for storms. Years ago, the casualties from these storms were much higher, as many people were not prepared. Today, technology has allowed us to see major storms ahead of time, so we could prepare to evacuate if needed. Sand dunes and trap bags along the coast have helped to contain a lot of the flooding on Fire Island in the recent years. They have been shown effective since Hurricane Sandy, and will continue to be used by the Island to prepare for future storms.

Fire Island is filled with history. Come see for yourself why Fire Island has become an annual destination for so many people. From historic landmarks to beautiful beaches, your visit at Fire Island will be the trip of a lifetime.


Fire Island is the perfect getaway for the summer. Any visitor should begin their adventure with Ocean Beach, the unofficial capital of the island. The beautiful ocean view and small-town vibe make this the place-to- be for tourists. A few miles east of Ocean Beach are the LGBT-centric communities of Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines. Next up is the Fire Island National Seashore, which features park facilities across the entire island. Among these facilities is the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, a crown jewel of untouched beach and forest that can be seen for miles. Lastly, Fire Island is home to history rich restaurants that include casual and fine dining.

We’re pumped to show you all these Fire Island designs! Many of you have asked us to make a Fire Island t-shirts and we worked hard on these first 4 designs. We would love your feedback and any ideas on the shirts. We will also be coming out with more designs and a few giveaways of the course of this summer! Thanks for voting!

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As of May 31st, the 1 a.m. ferry leaving from Ocean Beach and Ocean Bay Park will cease immediately. According to Fire Island Ferries, the 1 a.m. crowd has now “morphed into a crowd of undesirables” that have become difficult to manage. The official statement claims that the recent changes in the ferry schedule are to protect employees and other passengers; however, moving forward, what are the implications for those who rely on the late-night ferry?

Many locals seem pleased with the decision to halt the late-night ferry. During the weekends leading up to the decision, several instances of inebriated crowds engaging in less than desirable behavior have been reported in the area. Current residents believe that the partying has gotten out of control, claiming that visitors are getting too drunk, publicly urinating and puking.

“This is the first step in taking back our village from chaos” says Mayor Mallot. By continuing to allow rowdy crowds to board the ferry, employees and passengers would be put at risk.

Going forward, the last ferry will leave Ocean Bay at 11:15 p.m. on Fridays and at 11 p.m. on Saturdays.

The local police have also released a statement saying that they will “closely monitor the new flow of passenger and deploy assets appropriately.”

The 1 a.m. ferry has been running since the 1990’s as a way to mitigate the number of people roaming the streets after hours in the Ocean Bay area. For now, it is hard to say whether the ferry service will permanently discontinue the 1 a.m. ride from Ocean Bay. Expected summer visitors have already begun voicing their concern over the ferry schedule. The Mayor has said he will review what happens with future crowds but insists that the 1 a.m. ferry will not return this summer.

The lasting implications of the decision to discontinue the late-night ferry are yet to be seen. It would seem that locals appreciate the change although, summer visitors are less than pleased. Visitors are already having to change their vacation plans in light of the schedule change. We will have to wait until the summer season kicks in to really gauge the benefits or consequences of the decision to discontinue the late-night ferry.

By Rachel Sunshine

Now with spring officially in the air the prospect of summer is a satisfying reality. For the already bustling town of Ocean Beach, summer dreaming hit full blast for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Though the weather slightly cooler than years past, the ferry delivered plenty of warm, anxious faces. With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a weekend again, a day at the beach was an ideal retreat.

Though the bars did not open until noon, many came early to check out the beach and stroll the familiar walks. As always The Albatross opened for it’s first day of the season, a tradition for long over a decade. Jimmy Mallot, owner of the Albatross, and Mayor of Ocean Beach, set out his customary corn beef, cabbage, and Irish soda bread for his patrons. Son James Mallot and son-in-law Peter Hasemann worked the bar for an eager crowd.

Across the green, Castaway turned up the cheer for the long awaited celebration. Castaway, open year round, with much to accomplish, was able to reopen their doors six weeks after the storm. Anxious as always to have his friends at his bar, owner Jon Randazzo, was especially thrilled to see so many familiar faces who journeyed out for the St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Jason Bendicksen and Rachel Sherman sported their green Ocean Beach Fire Department tees behind the bar. Castaway remained open for dinner and drinks long after the last boat for all those still in The St. Patty’s mood.

Besides the usual Ocean Beach goers, The Riverview of Oakdale chartered a private ferry for their yearly Fire Island field trip. In for a more exclusive and scenic celebration many familiar faces bar hopped around Ocean Beach enjoying the sand and sun as well. Though always an anticipated occasion, the guests and bar-staff alike were overjoyed in being reunited with spring’s presence once again, looking forward to another summer season at the beach!

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By Shoshanna McCollum

The author of one of the foremost cotemporary primers of Fire Island history died this past week at the age of 88. Madeline C. Johnson’s Fire Island: 1650s – 1980’s has been a fixture on the bookshelves of Fire Island cottages and most anyone else who takes an interest in the barrier island since its initial release 30 years ago.

Johnson passed away on March 15th at Shell Point Pavilion of Fort Meyers, FL due to complications from lung cancer. Her husband of 64 years, William Johnson survives her, as well as sons Clark, Robert, and five grandchildren.

“Mandy wrote the best history of Fire Island that exists,” said Dr. Robert Sayre, a fellow author as well as her longtime friend and summer neighbor in the community of Point O’ Woods. “She was only called ‘Madeleine’ by her husband Bill if she was out of order in any way.”

Johnson grew up spending her summers on Fire Island and sailing the Great South Bay. She was also an avid tennis and bridge player, Girl Scout Troop Leader as well as a proudly self-proclaimed lifelong Democrat. Born as Madeleine Clark, the daughter of a prominent patent attorney, she attended Smith College and subsequently earned her Masters of Library Science through Rutgers State College. Johnson worked as a librarian in the education field through her entire working career, and become founding President of the Point O’ Woods Historical Society. In retirement she continued to support charitable causes including Habitat for Humanity.

“The storm broke her heart,” said her daughter-in-law Kathryn Johnson speaking of Hurricane Sandy’s assault on Fire Island as her mother-in-law struggled with frail health in her final months. Several years ago, Johnson signed over the rights of her book over to the Point O’ Woods Historical Society. Now in its fifth printing, Fire Island: 1650’s – 1980’s sold over 7,000 copies and it continues to sell strong.

In lieu of flowers the Johnson family ask that donations be made to one’s preferred local hospice organization in Madeleine’s name.

Fire Island Book


YAPHANK, N.Y. – Removal of Hurricane Sandy debris on Fire Island began March 2 and is scheduled to be complete by the end of March. In an effort to meet the March 31 completion goal, the debris removal contractors will begin work around the clock Friday.

“It is crucial that the work on the beach is finished before piping plover breeding season begins and restricts the movement of the debris removal vehicles,” said Lt. Col. John Knight, New York Recovery Field Office commander. “The barge operations carrying debris off the island start
continuous operations Friday.”

The crews will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week transferring debris collected during daylight hours to barges after dark. Daily, barges and trucks haul debris from the island for disposal or recycling. Sifted sand and chipped vegetative debris will remain on Fire Island.

“We’re going to get this done as quickly and safely as we possibly can,” said Lt. Col. John Knight, commander of the Corps’ New York Recovery Field Office. “Our goal remains to finish by the end of March.”

The Corps awarded a $10.1 million task order for the project to Environmental Chemical Corporation of Burlingame, Calif., Feb. 27 under the advance contracting initiative. The ACI allows the Corps to pre-award contracts for major emergency response missions to put contractors to work.
Under the ECC task order, at least 82 percent – about $8.3 million – of the contracted work must go to local businesses. Cleanup work was delayed by more than a month by an atypical series of contract protests.

The task order includes removing debris from right-of-way and eligible private property, transporting it off the island and disposing of it in a safe and environmentally-sound manner. It also requires the separation and disposal of construction and demolition debris, segregation of “white goods”
such as refrigerators and other appliances, disposal of e-waste such as televisions and computers, disposal of vegetative debris and sifting sand that presents a public safety hazard.

Fire Island is a remote barrier island with limited vehicle access. Travel is mostly limited to small boardwalks or sand pathways, and driving on the beach is required to access several Fire Island communities. Hauling debris on the beach will be restricted after March 15 due to the nesting season of
the piping plover.

Nearly 1,600 Fire Island homes damaged by the storm are currently eligible for debris removal assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency tasked the Corps Nov. 24 to assist with removing debris on Fire Island as part of the federal Hurricane Sandy response and recovery efforts for New York. An estimated 62,000 cubic yards of debris is eligible for removal – enough to cover a football field up to three stories high.

Photos of the debris removal operation:

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