The Beginner’s Guide To Fire Island Pines

When to Go


Despite withstanding some damage from Superstorm Sandy, Fire Island remains a serene and picturesque beach town. Everything’s charmingly connected by boardwalk and the beach itself is a slice of heaven.  Put an Instagram filter on that and suddenly it’s 1978 and you can’t toss a seashell without hitting a handlebar mustache:


I’m not even a big beach person, but I still managed to enjoy myself. I’m black so I don’t feel the need to tan usually. I can’t swim– fulfilling at least one stereotype — and I’m also not about playing beachy sports — thus fulfilling another — so that leaves “relaxing.” And that just makes me uncomfortable. But the beauty of nature, and the beauty of some dudes in speedos, can do wonders to relax the mind.

Leon and I were also lucky to sit next to a sleuth of bears, the few ones we observed in the wilderness of the Pines. When they spotted another ursine pair coming down the shore, the leader — a mighty silverback — let out a mating call, in a thick Long Island accent: “Hey you beahz, get ovah heeah!”

It was like a touching episode of National Homographic.

Other than that, it was very peaceful, which as a New Yorker is a foreign and potentially dangerous concept. I was surprised at just how peaceful it was, but we went the first weekend of June. Shit gets a bit more cray on the “party weekends” — Invasion/4th of July, the Pines Party (July 26-28) and Ascension (August 16-18). Prices also go up so depending on what you’re in the mood for and what you can spend, plan accordingly.

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  • muscl954

    Lester Brathwaite, I love your writing!

  • MikeE

    kind of strange seeing that Quebec flag in the last picture.

  • knoxxy2008

    Cool pictures.

  • Joetx

    Hey Lester, as a BGM, how would you describe the level of racial diversity in Fire Island?

  • Lester Brathwaite

    @Joetx: Not gonna lie to ya, it’s not super diverse, but there was a nice (and surprising) mix of people over all.

  • bobbyo2

    Thank you for a wonderful guide. I am a 64 years young African-American male whose first visit to Fire Island was last Summer, at the invitation of a friend who, has a house there. The experience for me was exciting, anxious, and terrifying knowing I didn’t fit the stereotype of the average island goer.
    There is not much diversity there and I would not be able to hide there. I am an artist and the island is a tremendous source of inspiration along with peace and quiet. The fun starts on the ferry from Sayville.
    It’s certainly worth the trip, go, play, relax and enjoy.
    Have a great Summer!!!

  • Joetx

    @Lester Brathwaite: Thanks, Lester, as well as bobbyo2, for the input re: racial diversity (or rather, the lack thereof) in Fire Island. Although I was expecting that, it’s disappointing nevertheless.

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