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Established in 1964, Fire Island National Seashore covers a 26-mile stretch of Fire Island, which is 30 miles long. The barrier island protects New York City and Connecticut from “Norwesters,” and also, it is a critical habitat for many rare and endangered animals. Though the true origin of the name of this island has been lost to the ravages of time, historians believe that it is an Anglicization of a dutch word, “vier,” which means four. At one time, there were a few barrier islands that protected New York’s coast, and dutch sailors likely numbered them.
Visitors should be aware that though they can access Fire Island by vehicle via one of the two bridges or a ferry boat, Fire Island National Seashore is open to pedestrian traffic only. There are water taxis to facilitate movements along the seashore. Pets are not permitted on the beaches between March and Labor day to protect animals’ nesting grounds.
The closest town via the Robert Moses Causeway is Islip, NY. From the eastern end of the island, Mastic Beach, NY, can be accessed by taking the Smith Point Bridge. Both towns have a variety of retail shopping options, gift shops, restaurants, and medical centers for emergency care. Search for an RV in Suffolk County, NY, and get ready to make new memories.
One of the largest barrier islands on the United States’ east coast, Fire Island National Seashore strings out across 25 miles of ocean. Treasure hunters flock to the beach in hopes of finding unusual shells, ancient coins, bottles, and remnants from long-gone wrecks that occasionally wash ashore after storms. Beachcombers, armed with metal detectors and sharp pairs of eyes, pore over miles of sandy white beaches. Visitors are permitted to take home up to two quarts of seashells. Binoculars, too, may prove useful for birdwatchers and nature lovers. In addition to several species of common birds that populate the tidal marshes and shallow waters, a handful of threatened or endangered birds make their homes on Fire Island, including piping plovers and roseate terns. Though bald eagles, hawks, and ospreys are not endangered, they are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. They too regularly nest in the area and can be sighted overhead soaring in lazy loops while searching for easy prey.
It’s speculated that a few white-tailed deer went for a swim and somehow got stranded on Fire Island in the 1940s. Today, there is a small but healthy population of deer roaming the tidal marshes. Other mammals include foxes, otters, and an occasional seal. Offshore, whales pass by the island on their biannual migration to their winter and summer grounds.
Beaches and fishing go hand-in-hand. There are a couple of fishing piers, marinas with boats for rent, and also, fishing from the shore is allowed. Anglers can expect to catch bluefish, striped bass, and fluke.
In addition to swimming and surfing, scuba diving is a popular activity. It’s recommended that scuba divers work with an experienced partner because the currents off Fire Island can be strong. Divers should bring extra air tanks; the closest facility to refill them is across the bridges. One of the popular sites to dive at is the Fire Island Lightship, which is a 1909 shipwreck that’s at the depths of 100 feet. The USS San Diego wreck is also a popular dive site. It’s considered interesting because it was sunken by a mine at the start of World War I, which is one of the few known incidents that occurred in the United States’ waters. Heads up: it is now illegal to recover artifacts from this wreck.
Skip enduring noisy neighbors at a hotel and rent a travel trailer to get closer to nature. RV camping on Fire Island is difficult because Fire Island National Seashore is a protected park, and overnight campgrounds are almost nonexistent in the communities on Fire Island. Smith Point County Park RV campground is the only facility at which one can RV camp. All sites have running water, and some have electric hookups. It was named one of the top 15 campgrounds in New York. With space at a premium during the summer months, reservations must be made to secure a spot between May and September.
Should space run out, which does happen, there are a few options for Long Island RV camping. Southaven County Park Campground near Shirley, NY, is a quiet, somewhat spartan campground. Most RV sites are shaded by trees, which is a nice plus on a humid summer day. Some sites have water hookups, and a few also include electric and sewer hookups.
The Battle Row Campground in Old Bethpage, NY, could be a good candidate, too. The campground has around 65 sites with water and electric hookups. The restrooms, which have showers, are a short walk from most sites. There is an open field for sports and games.
Rent an Airstream and explore the charming historic towns on Long Island. Though the dazzling, light-bright New York City is a popular draw, many towns have interesting businesses and shops. Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River, NY, is a quiet retreat away from the crowded city suburbs. The original owner, William Bayard Cutting, incorporated organic wilderness aesthetics into his gardens, which differed from the manicured Victorian trend at the time. The tranquil gardens and manor house are open to tours.
Near Riverhead is the Long Island Aquarium. The small-but-mighty aquarium boasts one of the largest living coral displays in the western hemisphere. Other exhibits include bugs, amazon rainforest, shark lagoon, an interactive touch tank, and several more displays.
Although the Broadway district in New York City is world-famous, the nearby Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts in Patchogue is no slouch. The 90-year mainstay has hosted a wide variety of acts, entertainers, and plays over the years, including Twisted Sister, Clint Black, and LeAnn Rimes.