Block Islanders have been “social distancing since 1661” – so goes their humor. This happy humble island also calls itself the “Bermuda of the North.” Block Island is cool, casual, fun, relaxed, and beautiful to explore for a few days. Block is geographically the furthest island from land, both mainland (12 Miles to Judith Point Rhode Island) and other islands, than any other town along the entire 1,800 mile East Coast (Maine’s Monhegan is 10 miles from land by comparison).
You can take a ferry to Block, or boat there yourself on the straightforward passage from Point Judith or Newport in Narraganset Bay. Clear days you can see Block Island from mainland over the curve over the horizon. But Block Island can also disappear from sight, but not from your memory once you’ve been to this magical spot.
Block Island isn’t like nearby Marth’s Vineyard or Nantucket. Block offers visitors a slower pace than those outer islands, and Rhode Island’s Newport too. The Vineyard and Nantucket are fancier now, and pricier, inhabited by celebs and wealthy politic families (MV has the Obamas), Nantucket the Kennedy’s and John Kerry.
Block Island resembles Ireland with pastoral fields and wildflower beds framed by rambling stone walls. Bucolic driftwood signs and painted rocks dot the island with low key markers. Humble ocean cottages cling to the shores, just as Block’s Mohegan Cliffs. Block has two light houses, and the 100 Hundred Steps you must climb down (and back up) to a remote beach. Much of Block Island’s beauty lies away from the busy New Harbor marinas and the hustling Old Harbor downtown with shops, restaurants and hotels. Go all the way out to the US Coast Guard Station (caution to bikes and mopeds of the bumpy sandy road) guarding the entry to Great Salt Pond for more serenity.
Old Harbor is where the primary Point Judith Ferries land. This is the hub of the happy casual island, and certainly the busiest part with the most hotels and dining, and shops. Ballards’ is an institution on the beach here for drinks. lunch, dinner by the sand.
Where to Stay on Block Island
Lark Hotels Block Island Beach House is a chic viby new beach hotel with its own small beach, beach bar, and pool.
Spring House Hotel atop the hill overlooking Old Harbor is a stately grand hotel, and a great place for cocktail overlooking the sea and sweeping lawn.
Atlantic House is a classic historic hotel that dominates Old Harbor’s downtown and shore with a grand veranda wrapping around.
New Harbor is the place to go if arriving by private boat or chartered yacht. This jam packed Great Salt Pond is loaded with mooring, both public & private, and docks at Champlin’s Marina, the Boat Basin, Oar House and One Eyed Dick’s. Be prepared to pay handsomely for prime dock space, where they will raft you up 2-3 boats deep on prime summer holiday weekends. Or Hail the Harbormaster for a spot. Moorings are $50 instead of a thousand, but they go quickly on an honor system doled out by the harbormaster at a precise time each day. New Harbor at Block really rocks on holiday summer weekends with music, so many boats aglow with neon lights and partying yachters all day and night.
Things to do on Block Island
Rent a bike to ride the island with Block Island Bike and Car Rental for $35 bucks for the entire day. Mellow paved roads with a few fun hills circumvent the entire 7 by 3 mile island. Our 16 mile bike tour brought us to both lighthouses, the US Coast Guard Station, the Mohegan Ciffs and 100 Hundred Steps, and sandy beaches along the way, through downtown, even a Labyrinth on our return from North Light.
Moped Block Island, but be warned of the narrow roads, sharp turns, and amateur drivers (you might be one of them). Don’t go in the sand down dirt roads or the beach paths on your scooter, or you’ll likely wipe out, road rash and crash. Locals tell legends of moped mayhem.
Visit Southeastern Light (which was moved 275’ from the sea at a cost of $2.5 mill) and North Light, these are Block Island’s two grand lighthouses.
View Mohegan Bluffs from the Mohegan Trail or Rodman’s Hollow to feel a wee bit of the Irish countryside and magnificent power of the Ocean, and erosion, on this weathered coastline. Descend the 100 Hundred Steps to view the Cliffs from the beach perspective. Go early to these sights as attractions tend to get busier peak day.
Witness Block Island’s wind farm – the first off shore wind farm of 5 turbines (at a cost of $300 mill). I am not a fan literally as it scars the oceanscape permanently, towering turbines and their shadows scare whales and marine life, and the electric off-set production is questionable, especially when the turbines break or can’t spin in high winds. Go see the wind farm and you decide – beauty or behemoth?
Visit one of 10 beaches around Block Island – Easton Beach, 2ndand 3rd Beach and Brenton Point Beach are all unique and dramatic. Keep in mind tides as you have much more sand and beach on tehs gentle sloping stretches at low than high (read: bye bye towel and chair)!
Visit Block Island’s Farmers Market on Saturday full of local offerings, from fresh eggs and flowers, to perfumes, housewares carved from native driftwood, and jewelry made from local shells, to local art. On West Side Rd.
Shop the cute Block Island shops in Old Harbor for sea-inspired soaps, jewelry, clothing, bags, nautical stuff and local crafts. The Mermaid Shop is particularly cool!
Dine at Oar’s or Dead Eye Dick’s overlooking the Great Salt Pond in New Harbor. Enjoy great pub fare, plentiful drinks, amazing sunsets and a boaters’ party scene most of the time.
Go to Kimberly’s and Winfields for more sophisticated dining on island. Mind you – nothing is fancy on Block – it’s a casual relaxed resort vibe across the isle with a very short season – May to Columbus Day.
Enjoy live music at Captain Nick’s or DJ late night at Yellow Kittens. But don’t miss your ferry back to main land – Rhode Island.
More Luxury Seaside Towns to Travel to:
Provincetown Mass – Ptown on Cape Cod
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Newport Rhode Island
Boothbay Harbor Maine
New York City’s best
Charleston South Carolina
Hilton Head Top Things to Do
Jekyll Island Georgia
Amelia Island- Fernandina Beach
St Augustine Top Things to Do
Key West Florida
“It’s all about the journey not the destination but choose a fantastic destination and it will be a better journey.”