"The Last Great Place"
Thousands of years ago a glacier split apart and left behind a small deposit that is now called Block Island, a beautiful place that moves at its own pace and is located approximately 13 miles off the south coast of Rhode Island. The island is just under 10 square miles of rolling hills framed by rocky stone walls which in the summer are decorated with colorful wild roses. New Shoreham is the name of the small town that is the center of island life.
Block Island is known for its miles of white sandy beaches and crystal blue water and is often referred to as the “Bermuda of the North”. Block Island thrives during the summer as a great tourist destination and is recognized for its famous sites, preserved historic architecture and glorious undeveloped spaces.
There is a year round ferry that operates out of Point Judith, RI and in 55 minutes delivers you to the island. In the summer months, a high speed ferry shortens your trip to only 30 minutes. Summer ferry service is also offered New London, CT, Montauk, NY and Newport, RI making Block Island an easy destination. Block Island does have a small airport for private planes as well as New England Airlines’ brief 12 minute flights from Westerly, RI.
The Pièce de résistance of Block Island is the 17 miles of the most beautiful beaches in Rhode Island, most all available to the public. The most popular beach is 2 ½ mile Crescent Beach located on the east side of the island . This beach begins in-town at Old Harbor and stretches all the way to the North Point.
The west side of the island features rocky beaches popular for surfers during nor'easters. This area is also great for surf casters, digging clams and seal watching. Many record size stripers and bluefish have been pulled from the surf at these beaches. These beaches are also popular sites for evening bon fires (permits required).
Travel to the south side of the island and you will find Ballard's Beach. One can walk from the ferry to Ballard’s Beach making it popular with the younger crowd, day trippers and boaters. Ballard’s Inn overlooks the beach and features live music and offers wait staff serving beverages and food while visitors enjoy the beach day making Ballard’s a great party spot.
There are many beautiful sights to see on Block Island. The two popular light houses are the North Light and the South East light. The North Light is aptly located at the furthest northern point of Block Island. It was built to mark the entrances to Block Island Sound and Long Island Sound as well as warn boaters of the Sandy Point which extends a mile or so from the tip of the island. Many visitors walk the long Sandy Point Beach to the light house to admire the beautiful granite building featuring an iron tower. While at the lighthouse, observe the conflicting tides that merge together which create spectacular waves that crash against each other.
The South East light is perched on top of a high rocky bluff the Atlantic Ocean alerting approaching sailors from the Atlantic and Long Island Sound. This 52 ft brick light house was originally placed 300 feet away from the top of the bluffs. Over the years, heavy erosion brought it dangerously close to the edge and in 1993 it was subsequently moved back 360 feet. Many visitors come to the Southeast lighthouse to tour the museum, shop in the small gift shop and admire the bluffs.
Right next to the Southeast Lighthouse is Mohegan Bluffs. The Mohegan Bluffs are large beautiful cliffs approximately 185 feet high and overlook miles of the Atlantic Ocean. The cliffs can be observed from the top of the bluff or visitors can climb down the steep 141 step stair case and take in the sights from the bottom or enjoy a day at the beach.
Rodman's Hollow has become a top destination-a special 230 acre parcel of protected property. It is known for hiking, bird watching and incredible opportunities for photography. In May, people from all over visit the hollow to see the spectacular Shad bloom.
Block Island prides itself in reflecting a by gone era. Its beautiful preserved architecture is outstanding from the early maritime and farming years through the Victorian Resort era. Block Island’s Spring House is the oldest hotel on the island; it is an elegant and well known historical landmark featuring an easily identifiable red mansard roof, large wraparound veranda overlooking the Atlantic ocean and a magnificent copula. Additionally there is the Surf Hotel, a preserved Victorian style hotel that sits right on the beach; the Atlantic Inn- a quaint Mansard roofed inn with historic charm and the Narragansett Inn which sits upon a hill overlooking the Great Salt Pond featuring fabulous sunsets.
Block Island offers endless activities. For the shopaholic, there are more than 50 shops and galleries in which to browse offering trendy clothing, unique gifts and beautiful art.
For the adventurous type, there are many activities awaiting as this small island offers bike riding, horse back riding, kayaking, parasailing, sailing and motor boating. Block Island is the fisherman’s dream- there is snorkeling, fishing charters, on shore fishing as well fresh water fishing and spear fishing. Surf enthusiasts are drawn to the island and boogey boarders enjoy the numerous beaches. Since almost half of the island is preserved the Greenway, walking, biking and riding mopeds are varied ways to explore the island.
Block Island is truly a beautiful place to visit and an even better place to live. The Nature Conservancy has designated Block Island as " One of the 12 last great places in the Western Hemisphere." Whether you come to enjoy the beautiful sites or simply relax on the beach you will never want to leave beautiful Block Island.