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What’s special about Block Island?

It’s a snap to get to Block Island from the Northeast or New England, yet – once there — you’re in a  different world — an 11-square-mile summer playground of bikes and sailing, lobster and clambakes,  nature and architecture that’s described as “no-frills Block Island Vernacular”.

If you want a quick getaway for your family,  or you want a couple of bonding days with your teenager, or if you ‘re looking for some fun in the sun with your sweetheart,  Block Island more than fills the bill!

How do you get to Block Island?
Get to New London, CT by either car on 95N or via Amtrak/Acela, then ride the Jessica W, a 500-passenger catamaran, for just over 1 hour to Old Harbor on Block Island!

How to get around Block Island?
When I got off the ferry, I walked 50 yards to the first bike rental shop, Island Moped and Bike Rentals  and got myself 2 wheels.  As long as you’re not pregnant and in reasonable physical shape, biking is the way to get around!

You’ll find that Block Island is saturated with bike paths so that, in addition to biking on the paved  though quiet roads, there’s a dense system of dirt roads and bike paths to explore!

If you don’t bike, your options include island taxi or even mopeds (if you have good medical insurance).
If  this is the case, I’d recommend that you lodge right in Old Harbor to make transportation easier, since many of Block Island’s restaurants and shops are right in town.

Best hiking on Block Island?

On the south shore of Block Island, you’ll find the 150′-tall Mohegan Bluffs.  Named after a 15th century battle, these cliffs can also pose a different kind of battle for beachgoers who spurn the 144-step staircase (see left) and try to shimmy down the wild cliffs!

Also on Block Island are specific trails, like this Clay Head Nature Trail, which leads you through migratory songbird habitats for 1/3 mile to the northeastern beach.  Look for a sign like this:

My favorite beach hike is out to the North Point Lighthouse, this spit of sand reaching up into the Atlantic:

But the real bragging rights come from hiking the length of the 25-mile Greenway Walking Trail!

Eating on Block Island?
From lobster sliders right on the dock, to lobster dinners on the porch of the National Hotel — you’re in for a crustacean-lovers vacation!

In addition to getting my vote for “Island with  MOST scenic porches for Cocktail Hour!“,  there are also fun eateries like this place, the Oar!

A “Shore Dinner” is a big deal on Block Island.  It’s basically  the day’s catch of lobster, clams, and mussels, served with potatoes and corn.  You can order one for your group of 10, or join the Lion’s Club in September for their Annual Lobster Bake.

Where to stay on Block Island?
As a first-timer, I stayed at the National Hotel (see top photo in this blog), a vintage victorian mansion with oversized wrap around porch, just steps from the ferry dock.   It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and is a real classic!

For a more island-y feel, I later  tried the Narragansett Inn.  It’s about 1/2-mile from the ferry dock, on a knoll overlooking Great Salt Pond (Block Island’s ground zero for all things sailing).   They have a large porch where you can enjoy your meals, and they encourage guests  to drag wooden chairs out on to their lawn for sunset.   Check out the view:

Or  ready for something really different?  Try a sleepaboard  sailboat, out in the mooring field (see Sophia, below).

Which leads me to… the sailing scene on Block Island?
There’s a  well-organized sailing school in the Salt Pond called  Block Island Marine Institute, and everyone from 8 to 80 year olds can learn!

You can also go on sunset sails on the Sophia!

Tough Love Travel’s best guide on Block Island?
It’s Corrie, who owns a kayaking outfit called Pond & Beyond.   My favorite?  a sunrise kayak through Block Island’s New Harbor, and out beyond the point.  Check out her website!

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