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GUIDEBOOK : Blazing a Trail to Fire Island

August 09, 1992|Robert Ragaini

Getting there: Bay Shore, the principal ferry-departure point for Fire Island, lies about 50 miles east of central Manhattan, about 38 miles from Kennedy International Airport.

Most visitors drive or take the Long Island Railroad (call for schedules and fares; (718) 217-5477 to Bay Shore, Sayville or Patchogue, where ferries depart for Fire Island. Taxis and vans meet the trains to shuttle passengers to the ferries ($2.25 in Bay Shore, $2 in Sayville).

Ferries, which are for foot traffic only, take from 20 to 30 minutes and cost $3.25-$5 one way; parking in the ferry lots costs $6-$10 per day. The ferry companies offer a full schedule in the peak season (roughly late April to mid-September), but the Davis Park Ferry Co., (516) 475-1665, in Patchogue shuts down Dec. 1 through early March; Fire Island Ferries in Bay Shore, (516) 665-3600, closes Dec. 22 through late February, and the Sayville Ferry Service, (516) 589-0810, offers only limited service from mid-December to March 1. Schedules vary, so it's best to call ahead.

Where to stay: Most visitors to Fire Island own or rent houses. Accommodations for short-term visitors are available in a few no-frills hotels. They tend to book up early on summer weekends, so advance reservations are essential. Weekdays are much quieter and more restful. All hotels are closed in the off-season. They include:

Cherry Grove Beach Hotel, Cherry Grove, Fire Island, N.Y. 11782, (516) 597-6600. $60-$210 single or double; disco and swimming pool; closed October to early May.

Fire Island Hotel & Resort, 1 E. Main St., Bay Shore, N.Y. 11706, (516) 583-8000. $50-$87.50 single, $100-$175 double; closed October to mid-May.

Houser Hotel, P.O. Box 102, Ocean Beach, N.Y. 11770, (800) 244-9540. $55-$85 single, $55-$150 double, including continental breakfast.

Where to eat: Fire Island's best-known dining spot is Cherry Grove's Monster Restaurant, (516-597-6888). Dinners cost $16.75-$27.75 and include steak, seafood and pork chops.

In the same community is the Top of the Bay Restaurant (516-597-6699), offering sunset views across Great South Bay. Dinners $18-$24; continental cuisine.

For more information: Contact the Fire Island National Seashore, 120 Laurel St., Patchogue, N.Y. 11772, (516) 289-4810, or the New York Division of Tourism, 1 Commerce Plaza, Albany, N.Y. 12245, (800) 225-5697.

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