Block Island is a beautiful and convenient island getaway destination


By Sandi Barrett, Contributing Writer

Spectacular sunsets are just one of the many charms of Block Island.Photo/Sandi Barrett
Spectacular sunsets are just one of the many charms of Block Island.
Photo/Sandi Barrett

NEW SHOREHAM, RI – It’s the smallest town in the smallest state. New Shoreham doesn’t have perhaps the name recognition of Nantucket or Oak Bluffs, its Massachusetts island neighbors to the north, but it’s the municipality that encompasses all of Block Island, a popular summer tourist destination just nine miles off the coast of Rhode Island. 

Getting there

While you can take a quick flight from the Westerly airport or pilot your own boat, most visitors hop on the Block Island Ferry. The ferry sails from Newport, Fall River, and Point Judith, and in under an hour (30 minutes on the high-speed ferry) you can be wiggling your toes in invitingly soft sand. 

Reservations are recommended and necessary if you plan to bring your car. The ferry docks at Old Harbor, New Shoreham, where your destination may be walkable or just a quick taxi ride away.


Things to do

Block Island has 15 beaches for you to explore, swim, surf, and sunbathe.

A hip and busy beach is Ballard’s Beach, part of Ballard’s Beach Resort. The gorgeous soft sand beach is ringed with bright blue cabanas, a tiki bar for your libation pleasure, and a full-service restaurant. Non-resort guests are welcome to join in the lively party atmosphere.

Crescent Beach (Fred Benson Town Beach) is a classic white sand beach just a short walk from Old Harbor. It offers a concession stand, restrooms, and umbrella and chair rentals. Crescent Beach is family friendly and a wonderful spot to spend a relaxing, toes-in-the-sand day.

A quiet, more secluded beach is Mansion Beach. Situated on the northeast part of the island, this big-wave beach is popular with locals who are within walking distance—there’s little parking availability.

Two lighthouses grace the shores of Block Island. North Light, built in 1867, guides ships around Sandy Point. Southeast Lighthouse, built in 1875, offers stunning panoramic views from the bluffs behind the lighthouse. The newly-renovated Southeast Lighthouse includes a museum and a guided lighthouse tour.

Hikers will enjoy over 32 miles of nature trails weaving around this delightful little island. Walking the trails that offer pretty vistas is a wonderful way to enjoy the island’s natural habitats.

An easy hike is Clay Head Trail, a three-and-a-half mile out-and-back trail that traverses beach, dune, and forest grove. More intrepid hikers will enjoy the Mohegan Bluffs Trail. A nearly seven-mile out-and-back trek, this rugged hike is rated difficult by AllTrails. Mohegan Bluffs is one of the must-visit spots on the island. The 200-foot cliffs offer stunning panoramic views. Take the 141 steps descending to the beach and back up when the day is done.

You can bring your car across on the ferry, but there are other options that beg you to slow down and enjoy the view.

Biking is one of the most popular ways to traverse this small island. Bring your own from the mainland or rent. The island is a bit hilly, so be prepared for some ups and downs if you are going to pedal around. Alternatively, mopeds are an appealing mode of transport. A half-day rental will allow you to explore the island without dealing with the undulating island terrain.

There are over a dozen taxi companies on the island offering point-to-point transportation and guided tours.

There are bike rental shops all around town. Island Moped and Bike Rentals is conveniently close to the ferry landing.

Where to stay

The Spring House Hotel on Block Island offers sweeping ocean views.Photo/Sandi Barrett
The Spring House Hotel on Block Island offers sweeping ocean views.
Photo/Sandi Barrett

There is a wonderful variety of accommodation options on Block Island. From charming B&Bs to beach-centric hotels, you will find just the spot to relax and unwind.

Ballard’s Beach Resort is a beachfront hotel that offers an onsite restaurant, entertainment, and a lively atmosphere. The resort is located right on the sand and adjacent to the ferry landing, an easy beach life vacation destination.

The Spring House Hotel conjures memories of a summer season spent reveling in quiet elegance. The striking red mansard roof is visible from the ferry and beckons you in for a closer look. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, enjoy an evening beverage on the white Adirondack chairs gracing the sloping lawn that offers sweeping ocean views.

Just a quick trip from most of eastern and central Massachusetts, Block Island may be the perfect spot for your next getaway stay. 



A coastal gem awaits visitors to Newport, Rhode Island (

Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a charming waterfront destination (

There’s more to Rockport than its most famous building (