Dramatic dunes, quiet salt marshes, and miles of soft, sandy beaches welcome Block Island’s guests to kick back, relax, and enjoy all the natural treasures the island has to offer.
Block Island is about 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island in Block Island Sound. It is a tiny seven miles long and three miles wide. The only town on the island is New Shoreham, famous for being the smallest town in the smallest state.
Things To Do On Block Island
To enjoy Block Island, you need to arrive by boat or plane. You can sail there yourself, fly in on your private jet, or, like most visitors, hop on the Block Island Ferry. The ferry sails from Pt. Judith, Newport, and Fall River with a traditional option that takes 55 minutes or the high-speed option for a quick 30-minute trip. It’s a good idea to make ferry reservations in advance. Be aware, some reservation times load first come, first served, requiring you to queue up early. If you plan to bring your car, you need to take the traditional ferry, and reservations are required.
The ferry drops you in Old Harbor, the hub of the island. From here, it is a quick walk or taxi ride to your destination, where you can begin exploring.
Hit The Beach
North, south, east, and west, Block Island offers 15 different beaches for your flip-flops-in-the-sand enjoyment.
Fred Benson Town Beach, also known as Crescent Beach, is the most traditional beach on the island. This beach offers umbrellas and chairs for rent and has a concession stand, restrooms, and lifeguards on duty. It is a beautiful white sandy beach that is a short walk from Old Harbor.
Ballard’s Beach, part of Ballard’s Resort, is a private beach that is open to the public. They offer gorgeous sand, live music, cabana rentals, a tiki bar, and a full-service restaurant. Ballard’s Beach is a short walk from Old Harbor where you can kick back in a comfy cabana, sip a fruity drink, relax, and relax some more.
The most popular big-wave beach is Mansion Beach. Located on the northeast part of the island, it is fairly secluded and has limited parking. Getting there by taxi or bike is a good option. If you desire a quiet, less touristy beach, Mansion Beach should be at the top of your list.
Block Island is home to two lighthouses: North Light and Southeast Light.
North Light was built in 1867 to light the way around Sandy Point. Southeast Light was built in 1875. Both lighthouses have been buffered by foul weather, rebuilt, and automated. The panoramic views from the bluffs around Southeast Light are mesmerizing.
Hike The Trails
Block Island is a beach adventurer’s paradise wrapped in a tiny package, boasting a whopping 32 miles of nature trails that enable you to explore the quiet nature of the island on foot.
Clay Head Trail is an easy 3.5-mile out-and-back trail on the island’s northeast side that encompasses walking along the beach, through a dune, and in a forest grove.
A longer, more difficult trail is the Mohegan Bluffs Trail, which clocks in at 6.9 miles. The terrain is fairly rugged, making this out-and-back trail a great workout.
The Glass Float Project is the brainchild of Eben Horton, Block Island’s renowned glass artist. Over 550 glass floats (orbs) have been hidden around the beaches and Greenway Trails across the island. If you find one, it’s yours to keep. Be sure to snap a photo and register your discovery to share the beautiful glass creation.
Hit The Road
Getting around the island is easy, although it is a bit hilly. If you brought your car over on the ferry, you are all set to explore the island leisurely. If you didn’t bring your car, bikes or mopeds are good options for discovering the island.
Biking is a popular mode of transport around Block Island. The island, however, is not flat. The long, gentle hills require some biking muscles, even around town. There are multiple bike rental establishments. Island Moped and Bike Rentals is across the street from the ferry landing, making it conveniently accessible.
Given the undulating terrain, mopeds are also an appealing way to get around. A half-day rental will afford you more than enough time to visit several choice spots on the island. If you have never driven a moped, the staff at Island Moped are very thorough, making sure you can navigate safely before sending you on your way.
Take A Taxi Tour
Taxis are ubiquitous on the island. They offer more than just door-to-door, door-to-beach, and door-to-bar transportation. Most of them give island tours. Taxi island tours can be arranged after you arrive through the individual taxi company. Expect a one-hour tour narrated by your driver, who will offer lots of local history, unique stories, and personalized stops.
Climb Mohegan Bluffs
Mohegan Bluffs is one of the top spots to visit on Block Island. The 200-foot-high cliffs are located on the southern shore and overlook a somewhat rocky but secluded beach. Take the 141 steps down to the beach if you dare; climbing back up can be a great workout.
Play On The Water
Being surrounded by water means ample opportunity to play on the water. Sea Dog Cruising offers private charters and invites you to create a customized boating itinerary. Grab a takeaway lunch, libations, sunglasses, and your sense of adventure, then sit back as the crew navigates you to Montauk or Watch Hill, or on a private sunset cruise around the island.
Places To Stay On Block Island
Many of the island’s hotels are a short walk from the ferry dock. You can also grab a taxi to your hotel if you don’t want to heft your luggage through the winding streets. Rideshare options are currently not available on the island.
Spring House Hotel
When you are arriving on the ferry, high on a hill is a magnificent old wooden hotel with a striking red mansard roof. The Spring House Hotel has stood as a symbol of arrival since 1852. Enjoy a cocktail on the wraparound veranda or find one of the white Adirondack chairs with a hilltop water view for a spectacular start to a memorable evening. Spring House offers several accommodation options; you will surely find one to suit your style.
Rose Farm Inn
Rose Farm Inn is a quaint bed and breakfast that exudes antique farmhouse charm with a beachy vibe. From the moment you check in, you will feel like you are visiting a distant relative. Located a short walk from town, it is close to several larger inns that offer spectacular views with restaurant service.
Conveniently located across from the ferry landing is Harborside Inn. The dark, ornately carved wood in the lobby takes you back in time to Victorian grandeur. The simple rooms have been updated with 20th-century amenities. The downtown location makes this an excellent spot for guests to enjoy Old Harbor.
Eating On Block Island
Seafood is best eaten by the sea, where it can be caught and prepared the same day. Block Island offers her guests many establishments that bring the daily catch to the specials menus, and there are also plenty of offerings for landlubbers.
Ballard’s For Breakfast
Ballard’s offers lunch and dinner, and for breakfast, they pull out all the stops. Imagine sipping a Breakfast Colada and chowing down on lobster eggs benedict while gazing at white sand and shoreline views. Now that is a breakfast of vacation champions.
Harbor Grill For Lunch
Grab a quick lunch at the Harbor Grill. Request a table on the porch. Alfresco dining means an opportunity to watch all the hubbub of Old Harbor while enjoying a fish sandwich, a bacon avocado wrap, or a Caesar salad.
Restaurant 1879 For Dinner
Restaurant 1879 at the Atlantic Inn is the place to go for a memorable, gourmet dinner. The award-winning restaurant’s menu presents the perfect diner’s dilemma: What to choose? Tapas selections include lobster poutine, sausage mac ’n’ cheese croquettes, halibut ceviche, shrimp dumplings, and other succulent options.
Shopping On Block Island
Artists flock to the ocean for inspiration, and Block Island has been a mecca for generations of artists. Galleries dot the shopping landscape offering original pieces that make perfect souvenirs. Decorate your home with something that reminds you of your best Block Island vacation.
Spring Street Gallery is a local art cooperative and consignment shop where you will find pottery, upcycled art, oil paintings, jewelry, quilting, acrylics, photography, and more.
Greenaway Gallery is the showpiece of the Malcom Greenaway. Beautifully photographed island and ocean shots are available at the gallery. All the work is customized, meaning you will have gorgeous photos that suit your style and are framed and delivered to evoke your island memories.
For the ceramic collector, Block Island Blue Pottery is home to whimsical and functional pottery that will bring joy and happy memories of your trip.
Jessie Edwards Studio offers stunning contemporary fine art including paintings, drawings, ceramics, photography, woodwork, and prints.
Block Island is perfect for a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation. Opt for midweek travel to avoid the crowds, and be mindful of the two-night minimum stays at many hotels.