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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Beaches of Block Island, Rhode Island

I know it's the first day of fall, but it is still 87 degrees here. And I just got back from a few days on the Atlantic Ocean.  Let's be honest, who is ready to say bye to summer?   In celebration of a wonderful summer, I am so excited to share some Block Island posts with you all.  I have been visiting this island for years and I just got back from another great trip on Sunday. Let's get started! 

Block Island was formed from glacial deposits that made their way down the East Coast.  Block Island is actually part of the state of Rhode Island and you will see a ton of BIRI car stickers along vehicles of the East Coast. It is located in the Atlantic Ocean about 13 miles south of Rhode Island and 14 miles east of Montauk Point on Long Island.  Block Island is only 7 miles long and 3 miles wide, shaped like a pork chop covering 7,000 acres.  Technically, the only town on Block Island (New Shoreham) is the smallest town in the smallest state in the U.S. 

This tiny island is paradise found.  

Two gorgeous lighthouses, 250' bluffs, 17 miles of beaches, and unique geography of the Island make this spot one of its kind. Block Island is often noted as the "Bermuda of the North" and its vibe can sort of be compared to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket.  Weekends are full of tourists on bicycles and mopeds, venturing around this island. Days spent at the beach, and nights spent at many of the great bars and restaurants around the island.  The population rises from 900 in the winter to an estimated 12,000 people in the summer.

Block Island means a few different things to a few different groups of people.  Whether it be the party crowd on the fourth of July (an infamous Block party weekend), or the weekend warriors who make their way to Ballards before renting a moped.  For me, Block is relaxing at a gorgeous house with the best of company, spending as much time as possible on the beach.  It is a place where we make wonderful group dinners based off of BJ's shopping trips, and pollish off a few books in a week. 

Rest and Relaxation is the name of my trips to Block Island.

We stay in this beautiful family home that belongs to Thatcher's grandfather.  At the dead end of the island by North Light, it is the definition of complete solitude with stunning views of the ocean below. With windows like this you never miss a sunset.  You can read more about the 1967 prefab Jens Risom house in this Dwell article

This gorgeous house, the insane view of the ocean and North Light, the wonderful company and the beaches of Block Island make it something I look forward to at the end of summer.  Admission to all beaches, as well as parking, is free and dog-friendly. Huge sandy beaches, and with 17 miles you can avoid the crowds.  Town Beach is popular among the tourists, and Mansion Beach is definitely a favorite.  No lifeguard, dogs allowed, it is a spot where you can relax on beautiful perfect sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and enjoy the day. 

 Beaches of Block Island 

Fred Benson Town Beach is Block Island’s fully equipped bathhouse and pavilion. Once called State Beach, it’s now owned by the town and leased to a management company that has upgraded the facility. “Town Beach” is one of two island beaches staffed with lifeguards. Showers, lockers, and such rental items as chairs, umbrellas and boogie boards are available. Hot food and drinks are sold, and there’s plenty of free parking. Admission is free. Corn Neck Road.  

Ballard’s Beach is the other B.I. beach staffed with lifeguards. This deep-sand beach—located on the south side of the Old Harbor breakwater and behind Ballard’s restaurant—is popular because of its many offerings. Drinks are served by beachcombing waitstaff. There’s live music on the patio, and volleyball and other beach recreation are offered daily. Those seeking solitude be warned: this beach can be crowded on hot days.  

Black Rock is named after a large dark rock. Hidden under 20 feet of water, it has been the demise of many ships. You’ll want to hike or bike into this area; it’s not accessible by car. There are a couple of beaches at the base of the bluffs. While certainly not the best place for lying on the beach, sandy stretches can be found here. Black Rock is the end point of a few trails through Rodman’s Hollow. Use caution when swimming; the surf can be very rough here.

Charlestown Beach is a sandy, peaceful beach that is popular with fishermen, especially along the jetty at its north end. For beachgoers, the jetty is a challenging walk. The beach is quite large and the waters are usually tranquil. From here, you can watch boats entering New Harbor and get a look at the former Coast Guard Station (now town-owned). Limited parking is available at the station.

Dorry’s Cove is a black-sand beach. It is small and generally uncrowded, with nice sunset views of Long Island. The waters are usually calm and access is easy, making this a good swimmer’s beach. It is also popular with snorklers, and it’s a great place for picnics.

“Kid Beach” is a well-sheltered beachfront at the south end of Crescent Beach. Here, kids can play in shallow waters, catch small crabs, find mussels, wrestle with seaweed, maybe even find a sand dollars. Adults can wade out for a peaceful swim while the kids play in the sand. This is also the closest beach to town, which may be the primary reason why so many adults bring their little ones here.

Mansion Beach is at the end of a dirt road by the same name. The island’s biggest home once sat here like a jewel on a hill overlooking the beach and nearby Jerry’s Point. Fire destroyed the mansion, but the beach lives up to the name—by being B.I.’s grandest. There is parking, but the spaces fill up on busy weekends.

"White Hall," the Searles Mansion on Block Island was nicknamed the "Mansion House" shortly after its completion in 1890.  Seales spent over one million dollars on the project (about 24 million dollars today). On April 23, 1963, it mysteriously burned to the ground. Arson was suspected, but no one has ever been implicated.

Pieces of the stone walls that currently mark the beach parking lot is all that remains of the White Hall. 

Scotch Beach is a quarter mile north of Fred Benson Town Beach. The sand is usually deep here, and the bottom—depending on recent weather—is generally devoid of rocks. This is a sandbox for big kids—the domain of the island’s summer workers, but tourists love this stretch, too. Bring a cooler, an umbrella and chairs, and dig in for the day. There is a small parking lot off Corn Neck Road.

Vaill Beach is at the bottom of Snake Hollow. A steep, slippery trail through the hollow is accessible at the first bend in Black Rock Road. Vaill Beach is to the left at the end of the trail, beyond 50 yards of rocky terrain. The surf at Vaill can be heavy, and there are some rocks in the shallows. Depending on winter storms, Vaill in summer can be either rocky or deep in fine sand.

West Beach presents a truly different experience. The beach here is lightly trafficked, has calm surf and offers perhaps the island’s best beach walk. To the south is Beane Point; this area is part of a bird sanctuary (no dogs allowed). To the north, dunes lead to the North Light (watch out for nesting seagulls). There is parking at the end of West Beach Road (past the Transfer Station).

Below are some of my pictures from gorgeous days spent on the beaches of Block Island.


Mansion Beach, Block Island 

Mansion Beach, Block Island

Block Island has wide beautiful sandy beaches.  After labor day, we basically had the beach to ourselves.  Dog-friendly less popular no lifeguard Mansion Beach is our favorite. This beach is less tourists and more locals and families.  Most of the day and weekend trippers stop at Town beach because it is close, Mansion is a little farther and less known to tourists.  

Mansion Beach, Block Island
Mansion Beach, Block Island
Mansion Beach, Block Island

Mansion Beach, Block Island

The water at the beaches is pretty crystal clear.  No seaweed, some rocks, but basically a beautiful sandy beach that is perfect for swimming.  With some wind, it is also a popular spot for boogie boarding and surfing. I can't even explain to you how good it felt to get into the water.  Living land locked gave me a whole new appreciation of the ocean.  I could have spent all day every day in this water. 

Mansion Beach, Block Island

One of my favorite things to do is to take a long walk down the beach mid-day.  After sitting in the sun, it feels so good to walk barefoot down the sandy beach and marvel at the beautiful homes of Block Island.  

Mansion Beach, Block Island

Vail Beach, Block Island 

Path to Vail Beach

Some of the beaches have a tricky walkway.  This is the pathway to Vail Beach.  I promise the trip down to the ocean is always (always) worth it.

Vail Beach, Block Island

These little rock sculptures are all over the island.  These were all along the beach.

Crab at Vail Beach, Block Island

Long walks on the beach were full of various critters and my favorite, sea glass and sea shells. 

Crab shell at Vail Beach, Block Island

Staircase at Vail Beach, Block Island

The stairs coming down the bluffs from the houses above are iconic Block Island.  Beautiful bluffs, and then these wooden staircases can be found all over the island.  Mohegan Bluffs are the most visited bluffs on the Island. 

Lobster pots at Vail Beach, Block Island

Dog-friendly Vail Beach, Block Island

One of my favorite parts about Block Island is how dog-friendly the island is.  Expansive beaches that your dog can play at any time of the day.  Dogs are supposed to be leashed on the island, but it is very very common to see unleashed dogs playing on the beaches. 

walking the beach at Vail Beach, Block Island

Check back in for posts about the gorgeous lighthouses and the ferry to and from the island. 


  1. Holy wow that family house is unreal. Also, I've heard so many great things about this place, I hope to visit at one point.

    N- Naomi in Wonderland

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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