A slim spit of land parallel to the South Shore, Fire Island is in many ways a microcosm of New York City and on the summer weekends half of Manhattan seems to be holed up in its tiny settlements, including the primarily gay enclaves of Cherry Grove and The Pines (check out the Fire Island Q News; Web: www.fireislandqnews.com for what's on), lively Ocean Beach, exclusive Point O'Woods and Sunken Forest (aka Sailor's Haven), which attracts a mixed crowd.
There are various ferry crossings, which anybody planning to stay must use, as driving between the two road access points at either end of the island is restricted to island business owners. Ferry schedules are subject to change; Fire Island Ferries (30–45min; $8 single; Tel:631/665-3600, Web: www.fireislandferries.com ) run from Bay Shore, the Sayville Ferry Service (25–45min; $6.50–12 single; Tel:631/589-0810, Web: www.sayvilleferry.com ) from Sayville, and the Davis Park Ferries (25–35min; $8.50 single; Tel:631/475-1665, Web: www.pagelinx.com/dpferry ) from Patchogue.
All accommodation should be booked well in advance during summer, when rates can be six times more than the off-season ones; options include the hopping Grove Hotel, Bayview Walk and Holly Walk, Cherry Grove (Tel:631/597-6600, Web: www.grovehotel.com ; Price: $51-75); Cleggs Hotel, 478 Bayberry Walk, Ocean Beach (open May– Oct only; Tel:631/583-5399, Web: www.cleggshotel.com ; Price: $131-160), which, along with regular rooms, offers garden apartments with full kitchens and baths; and the Fire Island Hotel & Resort, at 25 Cayuga Walk, in nearby Ocean Bay Park (Tel:631/583-8000, Web: www.fireislandhotel.com ; Price: $161-200), which used to be a Coast Guard station. If you'd like to splash out on a meal, try nearby Matthew's, 935 Bay Walk (Tel:631/583-8016), for its terrific fish specials for around $30. At weekends, the Ice Palace, at the Grove Hotel, and Flynn's, at 1 Cayuga St in Ocean Beach (Tel:631/583-5000), are good for riotous boozing and dancing.