Off the coast of Rhode Island, located between the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound, is the 9.7 square mile island of Block Island. The island is part of the Outer Lands region which is a coastal archipelago. With a full time population of about 1,000, the island is quiet and peaceful in the winter months and transforms into an active tourist destination in the summer months for biking, hiking, beaches, and boating.
How to get there:
There is a small airport on Block Island and flights run often through New England Air from the Westerly, RI airport. However, I recommend the ferry. There are multiple ferries that run out to Block Island from NY, CT, RI, and MA and many allow cars. Check out the Block Island tourism page for more information on these locations and scheduled. I took the high speed passenger only ferry from Point Judith, RI. This is about a 30 minute ride and gives some great views of the mainland and Block Island as the ship approaches.
It is helpful to have a car on the island, but not necessary. There are multiple cab companies, bike and moped rentals, and the island is quite small and easy to get around. Driving can also be challenging with all the bikes and mopeds darting around. If you plan on going for the day, leave the car behind. But it may be helpful to have if you stay for the weekend.
Where to stay:
Block Island is known for their incredible selection of Victorian era hotels. Some of the more popular ones are Atlantic Inn, the Spring House, Hotel Manisses, and the National Hotel. These have been restored and all have spectacular views. There are also plenty of B&Bs and guest houses throughout the island. Airbnb also offers some great options to rent houses or rooms in guest houses and is the most affordable option offering some private rooms for under $100.
I stayed at the Spring House during my trip. The hotel is lovely and holds on to its Victorian charms. The hotel offers stunning views of the water, a beautiful veranda and porch bar, excellent restaurant, and is easily walk-able to downtown and the ferry. The on-site restaurant uses produce grown locally on the property and they raise their own chickens.
What to do:
When you arrive on BI, be sure to grab a guide book. These are free and given out by most hotels and near the ferry. The maps within the guide are helpful.
Beaches: Block Island offers 17 miles of unspoiled coastline. There are plenty of sandy beaches, rocky beaches, and coves to choose from. Fred Benson Town Beach offers a lovely beach with all the amenities you could possibly need including beach rentals and a lunch counter. Mansion Beach is a popular spot on the island with soft sand and clear waters. My personal favorite is Mohegan Bluffs. This rocky beach is at the base of a very tall set of stairs, but because of this, it is usually very quiet.
Water Sports: There are plenty of options throughout the island to rent kayaks or charter boats. I highly recommend spending some time out on the water.
Hiking: There are many hiking trails around the island. My personal favorite is the Greenway. These trails run all through the Western part of the island and a map can be found in the BI guide. It is also possible to hike around the entire island on the beaches in about 8 hours. Clay Head Nature Trail off of Clay Trail road on the northern side of the island offers a great hike along the bluffs and spectacular views.
Biking: Block Island is the perfect place to explore by bike. It’s possible to bike around the entire island via the roads which are accustomed to having many bicycles. Head up north to the North Lighthouse or south to the South East Lighthouse. A nice route is the western island route. Take Spring Street from the ferry south west. This changes into Lakeside Drive where you’ll make a left on Cooneymus and then a right on West Side road. This will loop you up and around the island to Ocean Ave which will take you back to town. There are many dirt roads off of this main route that will take you out to various beaches, coves, points, and the coast guard station. It’s worth checking some of these out.
Shopping: There are lots of shops downtown to explore including clothing boutiques, jewelry shops, outdoor apparel and gear, and plenty of Block Island t-shirts and gear. Most of these are in the downtown area and side streets. It’s nice to just wander through and window shop.
Where to eat:
Block Island is home to a great selection of restaurants. Many of the hotels have their own restaurants and there are plenty of options in town and around the island.
Persephone’s Kitchen: This is a fantastic breakfast spot with delicious locally roasted coffee and healthy, tasty options including egg frittatas and quinoa bowls.
Dead Eye Dick’s: This lunch and dinner spot offers fresh tasty seafood and a beautiful view of the harbor. If it’s a nice day, definitely sit outside on their porch.
Tigerfish: This lunch and dinner place is pretty new to Block Island and offers delicious Asian fusion cuisine using fresh ingredients, unique techniques, and creative recipes. The restaurant does not sell liquor, but makes some fantastic mocktails and you can BYOB. The grilled shiitake mushroom bao is fantastic!
Payne’s Donuts: Serving up some seriously amazing donuts for the past 50 years, Payne’s is a BI staple and can be found down the road from Payne’s dock in an aluminum food truck. Be sure to get there early!
Calaveras: Craving some tacos? Calaveras offers fresh and tasty authentic Mexican food and a menu loaded with endless taco options! It’s also BYOB.
Winfield’s: Winfield’s is a sophisticated dining experience for those interested in a classy sit down meal with a menu influenced by French, Italian, new American and Asian cuisines.