Fire Island National Seashore
Guide

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Introduction

Fire Island National Seashore is made up of 26 miles of national seashore in New York State’s Suffolk County. Fire Island itself is a 30-mile-long island accessible to the Long Island mainland by two bridges.

Set along the Great South Bay, this strip of seashore is a popular spot for all kinds of water sports, such as canoeing, fishing, boating, kayaking, and more. If you’d prefer to stay on shore, there are some scenic camping spots, beautiful lifeguarded beaches, and epic hiking and dune trails to explore - with plenty of wildlife to be spotted along the way!

Fire Island is home to several notable attractions. You’ll find the home of William Floyd here (an American Revolutionary War general) which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other attractions include the Fire Island Lighthouse, the Sailor’s Haven boardwalk through the Sunken Forest, and the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness.

For those planning to stay overnight, there is a small family campground for tents at Watch Hill as well as primitive campsites for backcountry camping. Take note that you'll have to hike a couple of miles to reach these camping zones though. There’s so much to do that spending more than a day here is definitely recommended!

Park Alerts (1)

[Information] Watch Hill Restaurant and Snack Bar Closed

Due to a structural fire, the Watch Hill restaurant and snack bar are closed until further notice.

RV Rentals in Fire Island National Seashore

Transportation in Fire Island National Seashore

Driving

The Fire Island National Seashore is trickier to get to than you might think. There are only two bridges providing access to the strip and while your GPS may tell you otherwise, you cannot drive from one end of Fire Island to the other. There are no public roads on the seashore itself.

You’ll need to take a private boat or ferry from Patchogue, Sayville, or Bay Shore on Long Island, particularly if you’re looking to get to the Sunken Forest, Sailor’s Haven, Watch Hill, or the sites in the middle of the island. Ferries run regularly in the summer months, and less frequently in the off season, so be sure to check the ferry timetable beforehand.

The Fire Island Lighthouse, Wilderness Visitor Center, and the William Floyd house, however, can be reached by car all year round.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Fire Island National Seashore

Campsites in Fire Island National Seashore

Reservations camping

Wilderness/Backcountry Camping

Campers can enjoy backcountry camping in two camping zones on the Fire Island National Seashore. Both are located in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, and are found by hiking along the dunes either east or west from Watch Hill. Other camping spots for RVs are available at Smith Point County Park.

Backcountry campsites are not assigned, but campers should choose a site that won’t disturb nature or nesting shorebirds. Please note that you will have to hike on soft sand from Watch Hill - about one to three miles to the western camping zone, and four to five miles to the eastern camping zone.

You should also pick a spot that’s at least 300 feet from other campers. Online reservations and permits are required and must be reserved in advance.

Watch Hill Family Campground

The Watch Hill Family Campground has 26 campsites and one group camp available for those who prefer not to do backcountry camping. Most campsites are sandy so be sure to pack long tent poles.

This campground is located opposite the Great South Bay from Patchogue and can be reached by boat or ferry only. If you’re taking a ferry, the campground is a quarter of a mile’s walk from the ferry dock.

Campground facilities include restrooms with showers. From the campground you will have easy access to the Visitor Center, marina, a general store, and a lifeguarded beach (summer months).

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Fire Island National Seashore

Spring

Fire Island Treks

The Fire Island National Seashore’s Fire Island Trek is a great way to experience the unique beauty of this stretch of coastline. It’s pretty special - it’s one of just 10 national seashores in the country. At 30 miles long, the island includes a wilderness area, various beaches, salt marshes, marinas, and maritime forest. These ranger-led treks are a great way to see all aspects of this destination.

Summer

Beach Days

With 26 miles of golden shoreline to choose from, you’d be hard-pressed to find more beautiful beaches in the state of New York. Made up of white quartz sand, this stretch of coastline is perfect for sunbathing, building sandcastles, beachcombing, swimming, family picnics, and a whole lot more. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months for your peace of mind

Water Sports

Explore the 26 miles of glorious seashore, or the 30-mile stretch of coastline by water. Canoeing, kayaking and boating are popular activities along the Fire Island National Seashore. Fishing can also be enjoyed in Great South Bay and along Fire Island's salt marshes between Watch Hill and Smith Point. As you’ll likely have to take a boat or ferry to reach the island, boating is pretty much mandatory.

Fall

Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness

The Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness is the only federally-designated wilderness in New York state. A big plus is that it’s easily accessible by car all year round! The dunes stretch from the Wilderness Visitor Center next to Smith Point County Park, all the way to Watch Hill. Take your time exploring these scenic dunes at your own pace, or join one of the many ranger-led programs held at the Visitor Center.

Fishing

There are plenty of excellent fishing spots along the Fire Island National Seashore. Anglers can try their luck in Great South Bay and along Fire Island's salt marshes between Watch Hill and Smith Point. The Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness is a particularly good spot where fishermen can cast their lines out for bluefish, winter flounder, striped bass, and more along the shore.

Winter

William Floyd Estate

Explore the former home of William Floyd, an American Revolutionary War general. Floyd is famous for having signed the United States Declaration of Independence. This house is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as it’s one of only two houses left in New York of signers of the Declaration of Independence (the other being Floyd’s other former home in Westernville, New York). It can be reached by car all year round.

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