Autumn on Fire Island is truly a special, transformative time of the year. The temperatures cool down, the summer crowds dwindle, the mosquito and tick populations decline, and there is the annual migration of birds and monarch butterflies. Another unique phenomenon is the poison ivy turning red across the island (some even believe that this is what led to the name, “Fire Island”).
Even though ferry service is reduced, you can still enjoy fall on Fire Island! In fact, fall is the perfect time to take advantage of the backcountry activities that Fire Island has to offer, such as hiking and backcountry camping in the Fire Island High Dune Wildnerness.
Keep reading to discover the best fall activities on Fire Island.
Fire Island Lighthouse
For decades, the first evidence of land for travelers crossing the vast Atlantic Ocean from Europe was the Fire Island Lighthouse. Completed in 1858 near the site of its 1826 predecessor, the current Fire Island Light is still a beacon attracting thousands of people each year. It’s open year-round and is worth a visit in every season.
You can take a ferry ride from Bay Shore to Kismet, then walk or take a water taxi to the lighthouse. Otherwise, you can drive to Robert Moses State Park, Parking Field #5 (parking fee in season). Park on the east end of the parking lot and follow the boardwalk about ¾-mile to the lighthouse.
Sailors Haven is home to one of the best known areas of Fire Island National Seashore—the Sunken Forest. It is located near the center of the island, across the Great South Bay from Sayville, New York. It is accessible by Sayville Ferry, private boat, and foot only.
Here, you can explore the world-renowned rarity that the Sunken Forest happens to be, as well as go fishing in the Great South Bay.
Watch Hill is Fire Island’s largest salt marsh. Here you can enjoy the natural beauty of the beaches and dunes, and appreciate the solitude of this natural seaside haven.
Watch Hill is located on the western edge of the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, directly across the Great South Bay from Patchogue, Long Island. It is accessible by Watch Hill Ferry, private boat, and foot only.
Up until mid-October, the Watch Hill area provides visitors with its :
- Visitor center
- Family campground
- Ranger-led interpretive programs (including guided canoe trips)
- 75-slip transient marina with water, electric, and pump-out station
- Small convenience store
- Snack bar
- Self-guiding nature trail
- Picnic area
- Restrooms and bathhouse
Wildnerness Visitor Center
The Fire Island Wilderness Visitor Center is located at the southernmost end of William Floyd Parkway, adjacent to Smith Point County Park.
This is Fire Island National Seashore’s eastern gateway to the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, the only federally designated wilderness area in New York State. The wilderness breach, a channel carved through the barrier island by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, is an approximately 1.5-mile walk from the Wilderness Visitor Center.
The Fire Island Wilderness is accessible year-round by car. Parking is available at Smith Point County Park, where a fee is charged in season. The Fire Island Wilderness Visitor Center includes a ranger contact station, second floor viewing area, and exhibit space. Rangers issue permits for backcountry camping, and for recreational driving and waterfowl hunting in season.
At the Eastern National sales outlet, you may purchase books about the history of Fire Island, field guides to the native plants and animals, and interesting items for kids of all ages.
William Floyd Estate
Located on the mainland of Long Island in Mastic Beach, The William Floyd Estate is the center of the Floyd family life spanning 300 years. The Floyd family name has become synonymous with the Revolutionary war effort.
William Floyd devoted his life to both public service, as well as the Floyd family enterprise, which consisted of trade, whaling and land ownership as early as the 17th century.
By 1718, the Floyd’s acquired 4, 400 acres, in which Nicoll Floyd built the family’s ancestral home, the Old Mastic House, and ran a prosperous Northern plantation, which was passed down to William Floyd and later generations. Over the years, the Estate became a summer home and eventually donated to the National Park Service’s Fire Island National Seashore unit in 1975.
The Estate’s long family history is not the only aspect to make this place notable. The skill and labor of enslaved, indentured, and indigenous people played an integral role in the operations of the Floyd’s plantation and other lucrative industries.
Such experiences of the enslaved, indentured, and indigenous have left a legacy on this historical landscape, and shed light on our nation’s controversial past.
Locals and visitors alike can explore the Estate grounds, trails, twelve outbuildings, family cemetery, and enslaved crosses, no fee required.
The William Floyd Estate is open 7 days a week from 9 am- 4pm from May 1st to November 28th.
Luxury Fire Island Homes – We are Local!
Luxury Fire Island Homes, formerly known as Fire Island Homes, is a full service real estate agency located in Fire Island, NY. We offer rental, sale, investment and property management (coming soon) services. Laura and Brian Smith, Fire Island residents, ran Fire Island Homes for over 20 years. They merged with Sydney and Susan McCoy, owners of The Real McCoy Team – Your Home Sold Guaranteed, a residential real estate team located in Long Island, NY. The Smith and McCoy family have combined forces – resulting in the largest real estate brokerage in Fire Island. With thousands of buyers in their databases, 60 years of combined real estate experience in Long Island and Fire Island, innovative marketing approaches, and value-driven ideals, Luxury Fire Island Homes is your one-stop shop for all your real estate needs.