Guest post ~ Visit Block Island

The following is a guest post by Will von Bernuth of Block Island Organics.

Visit Bock Island - One of The 12 Last Great Places in the Western Hemisphere

That title you read above, it's not something I made up. It's what the Nature Conservancy said about Block Island and it rings true to this day. Read on to find out what a trip to The Block is like and make your way there this summer to see for yourself.

Sitting 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, Block Island is 10 square miles of outdoor paradise and getting there is part of the fun. Like the classic movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, the first step is deciding how you want to start your journey. Take a ferry? There are four different spots you can start from: Point Judith, New London, Newport and Montauk. Want to fly? New England Airlines has a 12-minute trip out of Westerly. You have to get to the ferry or the airport first and car or train will both do the trick.

My favorite, and the classic route, is a ferry out of Point Judith but even there you have decisions to make. The high-speed catamaran takes 30 minutes while the old faithful ferries will get you there in about an hour. Personally, I like the old faithful. You'll save a few dollars plus have lots of space to roam and likely run into a few friendly pooches who just want to give you a kiss. The locals seem to prefer this way too and it gives you the option of sitting inside or out. My recommendation here is to set yourself up at a table inside. It will give you a place to put your stuff, crack open a book and take it all in. Plus you can always step outside to breathe in the salt air or catch a few rays. The snack bar will also be close by if you need a bite or want to indulge - as the sign says, no booze till they cruze. On the practical side, if you want to take a car to the island - not needed for day trips - these ferries are the only way to get one there. Call in advance as car slots book up fast.

Another great feature of the Point Judith ferries is they drop you off in Old Harbor - some of the other ferries do too. If you've ever seen a picture of Block Island with some grand old buildings lined up along the town's main street over looking the water, this is Old Harbor and the center of town. It's definitely the most dramatic, beautiful and charming way to arrive.

Once there, what do you do? There are a ton of options. A little island shopping? Right in Old Harbor are cute boutiques and one-off stores. In fact Block Island supposedly has a town ordinance that won't allow any chain stores although how do you explain the Ben & Jerry's, hmm... Looking to head to the beach? There are 17 miles of beautiful coastline from Town Beach to Mansion Beach to Mohegan Bluffs and all the places in between. You can find secluded spots, bustling volleyball courts, sandy outlets and rocky breaks. A little hungry? Restaurants range from roadside stands to high-end tablecloth faire. If you're looking for a drink and a view, try the outdoor deck at the National Hotel or the lawn of the Spring House or Atlantic Inn (both great at sunset). Eli's Italian food on the backside of Old Harbor is always one of my favorites. If you're in the mood for a burger, The Beachhead on the way to Town Beach is a good stop. You can even buy lobsters straight off the lobster boat in Old Harbor. Ask for John Grant. There really are too many great places to list. Add to all this biking, mopeds, kayaking, hiking, deep sea fishing and you begin to see there is a lot to do on this little place. But best of all, you can also do nothing. Sit quiet, read a book or catch a nap - these are some of my favorites.

One of the great things about Block Island is that it is known for its nature conservancy. In fact more than 40% of the island is set aside for open space. No development, just wide open spaces. This leads to a rustic New England feel with long stone walls, open wild-grass fields, over grown dirt trails and pristine beaches. It also means you can get away from all the hustle and bustle of mainland life and be on island time. One of my favorite things to do is hike Rodmans Hollow. The trail begins just off Cooneymus Road (yes, that's the actual name) and it's a maze of trails that lead down to bluffs overlooking a beach. Makes for a great hike - be sure to bring some water.

Another special treat is Mohegan Bluffs. Just down from the Southeast Lighthouse, a sight to behold itself, the bluffs sit high above the water's edge. Below you'll see waves crashing on the beachy shore. If you're feeling adventurous, there's a set of stairs to your right that lead down. You'll probably see a few people huffing and puffing on their way up as it's 141 steps down and completely worth the trip. There are no lifeguards at this beach but you'll see folks out in the break, picnickers on the shore and sun bathers laying out. If you do go down and head all the way to your right, you can scramble over a few rocks and a larger beach will open up beyond. Be sure to turn around and snap a few pics from the stairs which you came - the bluffs above make quite a dramatic shot.

There 's plenty more to see and do such as heading to the Great Salt Pond / New Harbor where you rent a kayak, see a movie on a rainy day or grab a tasty lobster roll at the Oar. There's also the North Lighthouse which is at the tip of the island. Make your way to the parking lot and then walk on out via the beach. It's farther than it looks! Parasailing is available out of Old Harbor. Hike along the many trails known collectively as the Greenways. Or simply rent a bike or moped and explore. It's not that big a place. Trust me, you won't get lost...for too long.
So what do you think? Up for a quick trip? You'll want to stay the week...

Will von Bernuth
Block Island Organics


  1. Awesome article...thank you..Visiting Block Island is on my bucket list for sure...


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