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Block Island: Exploring Rhode Island’s holiday hotspot

block island harbor
Good morning Block Island. Photo: Shutterstock

Block Island is one of the most appealing summer destinations in New England.

Comprised of beautiful beaches and a shoreline dotted with castles, it’s perfect for visitors looking to unwind and relax.

This beautiful island, located twelve miles off the coast of Rhode Island, offers a lot of breathtaking sights to explore and we have painstakingly selected the best of the best.

I hope you enjoy them!

1. Mohegan Bluffs

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block island mohegan bluffs
Mohegan Bluffs. Photo: Shutterstock

The Mohegan Bluffs is about 120 feet high and are located on the southeastern corner of Block Island.

A fantastic gift of nature with breathtaking views, this is without a doubt the most beautiful spot on the island.

It’s an easy walk down the stairs but if you are not in shape it could be a bit tough walking back up.

 

2. Southeast Lighthouse

block island southeast lighthouse
Southeast Lighthouse. Photo: Shutterstock

A very pretty lighthouse located in a very picturesque place.

A short walk from Mohegan Bluffs, the Southeast Lighthouse is an architectural gem with a fascinating history.

There is a food truck that stays there during the day and the lobster rolls are delicious. You could also bring your own lunch and have a picnic.

 

3. North Lighthouse

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No trip to Block Island is complete without visiting the 2 picturesque lighthouses.

Located in a beautiful part of the island near Cow Cove and Settlers’ Rock is the North Lighthouse.

The view is very scenic but this is not a place for swimming because of the strong currents.

block island north lighthouse
North Lighthouse. Photo: Shutterstock

Block Island beaches

Many visitors come to Block Island to slow down, and oftentimes the best place to do that is on a beach.

The best beaches for swimming are located on the east coast from Mansion Beach to Ballard’s Beach.

This stretch is lined with 3 miles of unspoiled shoreline that offers something for everyone of all ages.

block island best beaches swimming
Map data © 2017 Google

There are only two beaches on the island that have lifeguard patrol and those are Crescent Beach and Ballard’s Beach.

  • Mansion Beach

Probably the best beach on the island with exceptionally clean water.

No refreshments, restrooms or lifeguards. Just a great place to set up an umbrella and chair and relax for a few hours!

block island mansion beach
Mansion Beach. Photo: Shutterstock

Mansion Beach is also ideal for the larger kids with boogie boards as waves are generally stronger than Crescent Beach.

  • Crescent Beach / Fred Benson Town Beach

Crescent Beach, formally called Fred Benson Town Beach, is located about 20 minutes walk south of Mansion Beach.

It’s Block Island’s only beach that has a fully equipped bathhouse with lockers, showers, bathrooms, and rental items.

The beach is also staffed with lifeguards in the summer months and has plenty of places to eat nearby.

block island crescent beach
Crescent Beach. Photo: Timothy J. Quill (Wikimedia)

Within this popular beach area, you will find sections with different names such as “Surf Beach”, “Baby Beach”, and “Scotch Beach”.

Baby Beach is on the south end of Crescent Beach and is popular with mothers and toddlers where children can play in the shallow waters.

Further south is surf beach which is located in front of the Surf Hotel. This area is good for kayaking and to snorkel due to its abundant sea life.

Block Island party beach

  • Ballard’s Beach

Ballard’s Beach is the party beach on the island and is popular with the young crowd.

This beach is attached to Ballard’s restaurant and bar where you can eat at their restaurant or have food delivered to you on the beach.

Alcohol can also be purchased from the bikini-clad waitress that will deliver it to your beach chair.

Ballard’s Beach is also a popular destination for sunbathing, swimming, and volleyball.

Other things to do on Block Island

  • Great Salt Pond

The Great Salt Pond is a natural beauty with three marinas, several restaurants, and great sunsets.

block island great salt pond
Great Salt Pond. Photo: Shutterstock

The calm water is ideal for kayaking, paddle boating, and fishing.

You will find white perch, shad, and striped bass as well as clams, scallops, and squids.

Block Island Moorings

The Great Salt Pond (New Harbor) is about a mile long and 1/2 mile wide and is also a popular mooring/docking harbor for boaters.

There are 90 town-owned rental moorings in the southwest corner of the pond that can be rented for $40 per night.

They are the lime green colored ones and are first come, first serve.

If you arrive before 10 am, you have a fair chance of getting on a public mooring.

If all the public moorings are full, the harbormaster also rents out private moorings with permission from the owners if they are available.

The Harbormaster can be contacted on VHF Channel 12 or by phone on (401) 466-3204.

  • 1661 Farm and Gardens

A small little farm next to Hotel Manisses with friendly and unusual animals that free roam up to a simple wooden fence.

A must-see if you have kids. Oh, and did we mention it’s free?

block island 1661 Farm and Gardens
1661 Farm and Gardens. Photo: Shutterstock

Getting to the island…

Flights to Block Island are offered daily (year round) from Westerly airport with New England Airlines.

Flight time to the island is about 15 minutes.

Amtrak’s Northeast Regional has daily trains to Westerly station from Washington, New York, and Boston.

The airport is located 4 miles west of the train station.

Block Island Ferry

  • From Rhode Island…

Ferry services are available year-round from the State Pier in Point Judith, R.I. and seasonally from Newport, RI, New London, CT and Montauk Point, NY.

The Point Judith ferry to Block Island is the only ferry that can take vehicles to the island.

If you are planning to take your vehicle then you are required to make a reservation.

Approximate sailing time from State Pier is 1 hour.

There is also a seasonal ferry service from Newport (Perrotti Park) that runs from June to September only.

Visit blockislandferry.com for more information and ferry timetable.

  • From Connecticut…

The New London Ferry connects New London, CT and Old Harbor, Block Island in just over 1 hour on a high-speed catamaran.

This ferry runs from May to September only.

Visit goblockisland.com for more information.

  • From Massachusetts…

The Fall River ferry leaves from State Pier (1 Water St, Located next to Battle Ship Cove), Fall River, MA.

This ferry runs from June to September only and approximate sailing time is 2 hours 15 minutes.

Visit blockislandferry.com for more information.

block island ferry
The Block Island ferry passing Butlers Flat lighthouse in New Bedford. Photo: Shutterstock
  • From New York…

The Montauk ferry leaves from the tip of Long Island (462 West Lake Drive, Montauk, NY).

This Hi-Speed ferry runs from Memorial Day through to Labor Day only and approximate sailing time is 1 hour 15 minutes.

Visit vikingfleet.com for more information.

Block Island places to stay

New Shoreham is the only township on the island and the place to find the most popular hotels, resorts, and summer rentals.

Hotels that we know of which have very good reviews are:

  1. National Hotel
  2. The 1661 Inn
  3. Spring House Hotel
  4. The Darius Inn
  5. Hotel Manisses
  6. Ballard’s

Block Island Restaurants

Block Island offers more than beaches, it’s also home to some delicious casual family-friendly restaurants.

Here is a list of places on the island that many visitors can agree are delicious as well as suggestions on what to try.

1. Kimberly’s

Take a break from the fancy restaurants and eat here. Your wallet will thank you for it.

There is something for everyone and it’s all homemade! Burgers, fish tacos, fish n’ chips, lobster chowder, specialty wings, beers on tap, wines, and more.

The Lobster Roll was amazing!

2. Mohegan Cafe & Brewery

One of a few restaurants that still open during offseason.

The food is very good, prices are reasonable, and the service is great. Lots of menu choices in this pub style restaurant.

The seafood scampi was delicious but the hot lobster roll got the biggest raves!

3. Ballard’s

Tasty burgers and chowders, plenty of seating and live music, Ballard’s is the party place on the Island during the summer.

You can eat inside, on their seaside patio, or have food service beachside.

Loads of great seafood, steaks, clam cakes, sandwiches, etc etc.

4. Winfield’s Restaurant

Although the food is a little more pricey, it is worth it.

An array of dishes including duck confit, seared scallops, mussels, quail, tenderloin, and lots more.

The food is outstanding. Grass-fed sirloin and cod are the most popular choices.

5. Poor People’s Pub

Low key, relaxed atmosphere that also serves generous portions of decent pub food.

The steak sandwich was excellent and they also have a nice variety of pizzas.

Block Island Bars

1. Yellow Kittens

The perfect place to go out and let loose.

Yellow Kittens has bands or DJs almost every night so you can dance till you get blisters.

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This bar attracts a somewhat younger crowd of 20-somethings.

2. Capt. Nick’s Rock & Roll Bar

A seasonal watering hole with outdoor deck, and live bands.

The dance floor is great, and it gets packed on Monday nights for their legendary Disco Night.

3. Mahogany Shoals

A wonderful old wooden sailors’ bar with uneven floors and outside tables overlooking the Great Salt Pond.

It’s one of the island’s best keep secret.

block island sunset
Block Island harbor sunset. Photo: Shutterstock

Block Island is enjoying an increase in popularity and for a reason. It’s an island of beautiful landscapes together with a relaxed atmosphere.

It’s also a great place to go bicycling, hiking, sailing, and fishing.

Until next time!