Watch Hill Marina & Campgrounds (Fire Island, NY) Review

Solitude/privacy: 3.5
Environment & Nature: 5
Available Activities: 2
Staff & Park Officials: 4
Accessibility: 2

Only a 40 minute boat ride

from Long Island, Fire Island offers  miles of beautiful beaches, board walk trails through out conserved habitat, and wide range of animals and birds to observe.

In this post, we are focusing on one particular part of the island called Watch Hill Marina and Campgrounds.  Located a short ferry (or by private yacht/boat) ride from Patchogue Ferry (Davis Park), Marina offers over 50 spots to dock your pirate ship (with proper paper work of course) and 25 campgrounds.  Just half a mile away from the pier, these beautiful campgrounds come in three types: secluded, open, and 1 group.  Secluded campgrounds are surrounded by thick bush and trees with one direction facing the entrance/exit: the boardwalk.  Open camp sight are basically a few spots clustered together in a large patch of land.  And 1 group camp sight is just an area with 2 or 3 picnic tables and opening for a few tents completely separated from other campgrounds.

Since there are only

25 camp sights,  reserving one spot might force you to do some planning and re-planning.  In other words they are a bit tough to get.  When coming out to camp out during peak warm season (late May – late September), it will be to your benefit to stack up on Tiki Candles, OFF sprays, and full body bug netting.  The amount of mosquitoes you will encounter through out camp groudns and other areas will make you swim after the last ferry to get back to mainland.

Car? What Car?

The ferry you take to access the Fire Island is half the size one would take across the Hudson River.  It’s passenger only.  With this said, carrying all of your camping equipment such as tents, air mattress, cooler with food and drinks will force you to re-think if the trip is even worth making.   And in all honesty, it isn’t!

– No open fires allowed (only grills – that’s not camping, that’s BBQ in a backyard).
– The bugs (mosquitoes and ticks) are unbearable.
– Camp store is stocked with absolutely useless junk.
– Snack Bar is highly overpriced (4 mozzarella sticks cost almost $7.00).

But if you do brave yourself and decide to come out, the easiest way to transport all of your stuff from the ferry to the camp sight would be by a cart.  Yup!  The same ones you see elderly Chinese women transporting cans they stole from your recycling bin.  If you are a minimalist and keep everything in your trail bag, speak to one of the park officials (if you can find one) about camping out on the beach.  It’s allowed as long as you still pay the same fee you would for the camp sight, register with them in person, and hike at least a mile (on the beach) away from entrance.

Make it a day trip!

Get there early, bring a beach umbrella, a towel, and a cooler full of beers!  The beach is clean and the water is nice.  See if you can spot a dolphin or two.. we did!  Overall, if coming out camping, I would recommend to do so in off season when bugs disappear.  Unfortunately this means the beach is too cold to enjoy.  But that’s OK!  Instead take a long hike through out the island and do some bird watching or see how many deer, hares, and foxes you can spot.