If you ask anyone, Fire Island is a not-so-little hidden gem off the shore of Long Island, the bigger of the two that stick out into the South Shore's Great South Bay and the Atlantic. While those from New York are entirely familiar with this small, 31-mile strip of beach in the middle of the water, anyone visiting from out of state probably isn't very well-versed in all it has to offer. Each town along Fire Island is diverse and unique in its atmosphere as well as its community, which is all part of the fun of visiting.

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These towns are also only reachable by ferry (with the exception of one state park) and no cars are allowed on the island, which adds even more intrigue to an already fascinating summer destination. Here's what you should know if you plan on being ferry-bound this season.

Ocean Beach

When it comes to the town with the most attractions, Ocean Beach offers the most in the way of tourist-friendly options. With more than a dozen of restaurants, bars, and even gift shops, there are plenty of options for the pickiest of eaters or the most devoted of seafood fans. Many of these places offer great options for any budget, as well.

For a little sweetness after all of that delicious seafood, swing by Rachel's Bakery for the best-baked goods and ice cream on the boardwalk. With the beach about a five-minute walk down any vertical boardwalk, Ocean Beach is definitely a great spot to start for Fire Island first-timers.

Saltaire

In stark contrast, Saltaire is more of a residential area than anything else. There are no hotels in this hamlet and the only thing visitors will be there for is to see someone who lives in the town, go to their own beach house, or simply enjoy a crowd-free beach.

There's a market in Saltaire along with a member's only yacht club, so if you're looking for more than that, check out one of the other hamlets first.

Cherry Grove & The Pines

It's easy to see Cherry Grove as an extension of the West Village and, during the summer, this is definitely the place to be, with the exception being that Pride celebrations happen all season long! Enjoying a drag show or attending one of many dance parties had at its numerous bars and restaurants creates such a vibrant and positive atmosphere, which is what Cherry Grove has come to be known for. A true haven for the LGBTQA+ community, it's a welcoming and friendly seaside town.

The Pines is a far quieter extension of Cherry Grove with many residential beach houses rather than restaurants and bars. The few dining establishments that are there, are a bit more high-end, sporting a classic fine-dining atmosphere rather than that of an ongoing party. The two balance one another out, and both communities feel like a home away from home, and a safe haven, for many Long Island and NYC locals.

Kismet

Kismet is located all the way at the western end of Fire Island which is why it's also reachable via Robert Moses State Park. This small town is quiet and charming but also truly classic in its Fire Island culture.

With restaurants such as the Kismet Inn (known simply as just 'the Inn' by regulars) and Surf's Out (also known as 'the Out'), it's a cozy and fun way to enjoy local seafood and live music. Kismet is also home to a liquor store, café, gift shop, market, and a scoop shop, so it's also one of the best options for a vacation on the Fire Island.

Atlantique

Similar to Saltaire, Atlantique doesn't offer much in the way of attractions or amenities but it is in a very convenient location. Visitors will find The Shack beach bar here for a quick bite, and other than that, it's just beach! This town does sit in between Fire Island's most popular towns, with Ocean Beach and Cherry Grove to the side, so it provides an easy way to go between the towns without boarding the ferry again.

Atlantique also offers a quiet place for beachgoers to enjoy the summer sun, which is even easier to do with its lack of boardwalks - it's truly rural, at least, as much as a beach can be. With that being said, its tiny location is not always the easiest to find a ferry to, unless you've boarded one that makes frequent stops along the stretch of the island.

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