|Block Island's secluded beaches make it an ideal place to hike|
After spending some wonderful times with family and friends in the Boston area, I turned south and headed to Block Island, Rhode Island. A good friend of mine had recommended it as an excellent (and cheap!) day trip. I had heard about it before but never thought that I could get there and back for about $20. As it turns out, the ferry out of Point Judith is affordable and easy to get to. So one moment I'm in Boston and the next I'm on the open ocean headed to a new adventure!
I was very fortunate to meet a gentleman who had extensive knowledge of what to see on Block Island and had been traveling there for years. So I got a great perspective on the island and what was worth seeing. Although I didn't have a bike with me, it quickly became clear that renting a beach cruiser was the best way to see everything. So I paid $25 for a day rental and headed off!
View Biking and Hiking Map of Block Island, Rhode Island in a larger map
I headed in a counter-clockwise direction towards the famous Monhegan Cliffs which are not to be missed. The ride down was great too- the town's main street was distinctively New England as were the beach houses with large yards. I'm not well versed in architecture, but there's just something appealing about those old, part-colonial, part-beach house homes all along the island. Maybe when I make my millions, I'll buy a home out here...
What really makes Block Island special though is its unassuming and quaint nature which so starkly contrasts the more well known Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Islands. The small town atmosphere and abundance of friendly residents made me feel like a welcome visitor. After speaking with people who had been to the Vineyard and Nantucket, I realized how nice it was to come to an island and not feel like I needed to be a movie star or politician to kick back and enjoy myself. Indeed, it reminded me of the many islands I've been to in Maine.
|Classic scene of the South East Lighthouse on Block Island|
|Shoreline Stairway, Monhegan Cliffs|
Before long I was at the South East Lighthouse and overlooking the tall Monhegan Cliffs which have become a symbol of the island. It was a gorgeous Rhode Island Day with a brisk breeze but warm temperatures and that classic smell of the Atlantic Ocean. I went on a little further to the walkway which actually goes down to the beach and walked along rocky shores. I was the only one at the bottom of the cliffs and I just wandered around the shoreline listening to the waves and wind. What a perfect day!
From the South East Lighthouse, I headed east along the main drive which hugs the coastline. Large mansions overlook the cliffs but there are at least 3-4 turn-outs with little trails to overlooks. Again, the island was so accessible to visitors and beautiful views were not reserved for residents only. Eventually I came to another trail which leads down to Black Rock Beach. This was a sandy beach on the south end of the island which was also pleasant to stroll along.
|My own beach on Block Island|
|Could be a scene out of Europe!|
Biking along the roads was hilly and slightly challenging but not difficult enough to be a nuisance. As I was riding along, I was thinking, "this looks like a scene from the U.K. or Ireland!" It was so lush, hilly and green that I thought I could be taking a country ride through some rural part of England. As it turns out, Block Island has the same climate as much of Europe.
As I headed north along the same roads, the terrain leveled out a little and I came down to the Great Salt Pond which serves as the islands primary anchorage. I walked along the beach which is directly south of the entrance which was also sandy and empty of people. The salt pond was somewhat of a marsh and I would have loved to take a kayak out along this protected cove. There are several larger resorts on this bay which still seemed humble enough to not deter from the island's environment. Before too long I was back in town and I grabbed a quick bite to eat.
|As New England as it gets!|
|North End Lighthouse and Beach|
Riding along towards the North End of the island was also hilly but not too challenging. The east beaches are, in the summer, very crowded but a good place for swimming and beach combing. My final destination was the North End Lighthouse where I was told that two currents collide causing a magnificent scene. When I finally made it up to there, I also saw the Block Island National Wildlife Reservation which was full of birds and seals! I strolled along yet another empty beach to the final tip of land in the island. Sure enough, waves from the east and west crashed into each other shooting water into the air.
|Colliding currents on the North End of Block Island|
Well what a day! I took the beach cruiser all around the island, got a few beach hikes in and found a new spot to enjoy when I need a beach vacation. The most surprising thing about the whole affair was its affordability- $20 for the round-trip ticket, $8 for parking, $25 for the beach cruiser, $10 for lunch... So a grand total of 63 dollars for a whole day on a New England paradise? Worth it. After all, $63 is what, the price of a bottle of water on any other nearby island? I went at a perfect time too- it was before the "official season" but the weather was still excellent. I was told you could get a hotel room for about 60-70 dollars a night at this time too- perhaps early May is the best time to see Block Island? Although it would be hard to imagine a bad time to see the island.
Its no wonder that the Nature Conservancy named Block Island one of the "Last Great Places". Its not common that you can visit a place that is populated but environmentally friendly and affordable to the public. There were so many options of hikes and rides that the island seemed like a beacon of preservation along the otherwise over-populated and over-developed coasts of southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Thank goodness!
Block Island was a lovely location to visit and something that can't be missed with a trip to Rhode Island. I can't wait to return!
Read. Plan. Get Out There!