Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wanderlust | Block Island

Over Labor Day weekend, Marcus and I decided to make at trip out to Block Island, Rhode Island, after having heard wonderful things about the destination from Linda and Shayna. So here's a little summary -- everything we did, what we liked/disliked, logistics, and some beautiful glimpses into our awesome trip over the course of two and a half days (Friday through Sunday afternoon).

I took this little snapshot so my friends and family knew to where we were headed -- that it was an actual island and not some figment of our collective imaginations! :P Approximately thirteen miles south of the Rhode Island coast (and fourteen miles east of Montauk Point on Long Island), Block Island is separated from Rhode Island by the Block Island Sound. The Island is sometimes referred to as New Shoreham and has a population slightly over 1,000. In 1614, Block Island was charted by the Dutch explorer Adrian Block, who named it after himself (previously referred to on maps as "Claudia" by Giovanni da Verrazzano and "Luisa" by other explorers, both after members of the French court at the time).

We took the Hampton Jitney coach bus (i.e., the Montauk line) from Manhattan, going all the way through Long Island to its last and final stop in Montauk. The Jitney has convenient connections to and from the Block Island Ferry (conveniently located in Montauk) Friday through Monday of peak vacationing season, so make sure you inform the bus coordinator of your plans for Block Island! {1,2,3} The Block Island Ferry from Montauk is run by Viking Fleet, departing for Block Island at 10 AM and returning to Montauk at 5 PM daily. the ride is about an hour each way and moves pretty quickly. {4 through 12} The Ferry docks at
Champlin's Marina through the Great Salt Pond. There are also ferries that run from New London, Connecticut as well as Point Judith and Newport, Rhode Island.

{1} We stayed at the quaint Narrangansett Inn (per Linda's great recommendation!), which we found to be pretty central to everything on the Island (not too north/south), making everything quite accessible and quieter. There are options for rooms with a private bath or ones with a shared bath (you'd ultimately be sharing two full baths with 4-5 other rooms). We opted for the latter, as it was just the two of us staying only two nights (about a $60 difference per night). It was pretty comfortable overall and very immaculate. {2} Plus, take a gander at this view from the Inn's porch -- so gorgeous and peaceful! {4} Across the street is Dead Eye Dick's, probably our most favorite dining spot of the entire trip, so much so that we went there twice during our two and a half day span. {8} The outdoor seating area of the restaurant overlooks the Great Salt Pond from its southeast bank. {3} I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the oysters offered that weekend (i.e., ones from Noank, Connecticut) -- I had about a dozen over the trip's duration. They were sweet and plump, needing very little lemon and hogwash. {5} The calamari was lightly battered and fried with a sweet-and-spicy sauce, and {6} the cocktails there (i.e., spiked Arnold Palmer and a spiked strawberry lemonade) were great for easing us into the mood for the rest of the trip (read: relaxation). {9,11} Lunch here is great (lobster BLT with avocado on amazing marble rye bread and a shrimp po' boy), as well as {7,10,12} dinner (lobster fettuccine with mascarpone and truffle oil as well as "surf 'n' turf" with shrimp and filet mignon).

Cars aren't at all necessary to enjoy everything there is to see on Block Island. Your best bet is renting mopeds/scooters or bicycles, the latter of which Marcus and I both rented. There are places to rent both types of wheels on the island, so we just went to the Block Island Boat Basin to rent bicycles, which was conveniently located behind the Inn (helmets, locks, basket and/or rear rack with bungee are included). The cost for us was about $40 for one day and $10 for each additional day (average about $25 per day per person).

It is less than a ten minute ride into town, where {3} we made a stop at the Block Island Chamber of Commerce to pick up a nicely illustrated map for $1 of bike trails (across the parking lot from the New London Ferry) and {1,9} passed by these cool walls with hanging buoys. We parked our bikes and {5,6,10,11} headed to Pebbly Beach located right behind {2,4,8} Ballard's Inn. The water was chilly, but after a while of easing into it, it was really nice. The waves were calm for the most part, and {8} we even did a relatively intense walk over the jetty to admire the view of the beach from a decent distance into the ocean. Ballard's Inn has a decent bar for beachside drinks (especially of the frozen sort -- daiquiris, frozen margaritas, piña coladas, lemonade, etc.). After the beach, we walked back towards town, where we tempted ourselves with a box of salt water taffy at the Star Department Store.

Our first evening brought us to {1,4} dinner at Sharky's Restaurant, which included some {2} panko-fried soy-ginger salmon, {3} chicken tenders, and {5,6} chicken and shrimp fajitas. The food wasn't horrible at all, but it wasn't necessarily anything to write home about -- it was decent overall. After dinner, we took a evening stroll which lead to savoring some strawberry lemonade sorbet from Beckett's Authentic Gelato as well as {7} enjoying hot beverages outside in front of a warming firepit (both a part of The National Hotel). We walked back to the Inn that evening, {8} passing by a calming view of Harbor Pond.

After a great night's sleep, we had a very full day of sights and eats ahead of us the following day.

Before our morning bike ride up to Sandy Point, we knew we had to have a relatively filling breakfast if we were gonna somehow muster up the energy and strength to bike the four miles up there. {1} The obvious answer was to go to Payne's Donuts (also conveniently across from our hotel) {2} for its infamous "Killer Donuts" which come in plain, sugar, and cinnamon. They were so soft, and if you go early enough, super warm, as they had come right out of the fryer. Needless to say, we went back the following morning for another "killer" fix. {4} Frozen lemonade (aka Del's Lemonade) is another prevalent offering found on Block Island. {3,5} After our first bike ride up to Sandy Point (more on that shortly), we headed to Three Sisters for lunch, as we had heard fantastic things about its sandwiches. {6} I had the Hippie Sister sandwich which had assorted fresh veggies (including cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, avocado, tomatoes, and red onion), freshly made hummus, and romaine lettuce in a veggie wrap, while {9} Marcus had the Twisted Sister sandwich with fresh turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese, avocado, lettuce, and tomato on a sub roll. If there is a casual lunch spot you hit up whilst on Block Island, this is definitely it. Great after a long bout of whatever outdoor activities in which you choose to partake. {11} Ice cream is quite ubiquitous on the Island, including the famous Ice Cream Place located directly in town, {8} with dozens of flavors. We can personally recommend {7} moose tracks and {10} rum raisin. But I'm sure any of the others are just as delightful.

{1} As I probably already mentioned, Block Island is very bicycle-friendly. Bicycle racks are installed outside most establishments, which certainly promotes this green form of transportation. Thus, when I saw this traffic sign, not only did I think it was cute, but it shows that residents and drivers know to be cautious while driving because chances are, bikers will be on the road, too. {2} Anyway, after our dangerously delicious doughnuts (alliteration is necessary here), we set forth to Corn Neck Road from the Inn, which would eventually lead us up to the North Lighthouse. {4} Four miles (and lots of huffing and puffing) later, our severely overworked bodies made it there at last. The biking trail proved to be more difficult (read: WAY more) than we had anticipated -- even gradually inclined parts of the road were incredibly rough -- and biking there without a drop of water in tow was also unwise. Angered fists went up in the air whenever pairs on mopeds effortlessly buzzed right past us. {3} We did stop and see Settlers' Rock (i.e., a rock with a plaque marking the landing site of the European settlers on Block Island in 1661) as well as {6} the scenic Sachem Pond, {5} but unfortunately we didn't have enough energy to walk to the end of Sandy Point and see the North Lighthouse up close. If we wanted to make it back to the central part of the Island without a hitch, we had to save our energy for the climb back down.

Luckily, the ride back down wasn't too bad -- after all, what goes up hill must come down hill. Lunch at Three Sisters was the best cure for our worn down selves, gearing us up once again for another bike trail this afternoon -- this time, only to the Southeast Lighthouse and Rodman's Hollow. Though the distance to the Southeast Point was half of what we trekked through that same morning, it was even more grueling than that morning ride. Relentless steep inclines matched with the beating rays of sun did us in, but we pushed ourselves so we could see it all. {1,4,5} The Southeast Lighthouse, built in 1874, stands above {2,3} the Mohegan Bluffs, which drop 150 feet to the sandy beach and crashing surf below.

If getting down to the
Southeast Lighthouse wasn't enough, {
1,3} we also were determined (however drained we were from the previous bike trails) to haul on over to Rodman's Hollow. Named after the family that purchased the land in 1684, the Hollow was formed at the end of the last glaciation period in New England (approximately 22,000 years ago) when the glacial meltwater eroded the southern end of the island, flowing over seventy miles to the sea. During the glaciation period, much of the world's water was locked up in ice (i.e., sea levels being lower) and Block Island was larger in relation to this. As a result, three large kettleholes formed when the huge ice chunks mixed in with the melted glacial deposits. Unlike ponds which have clay bottoms and hold water (about 350 of these small depressions exist on the Island), the bottom of Rodman's Hollow is porous and is about twenty feet above present sea level. {2} There are also many hiking trails within the Hollow, all of which I would love to explore during our next visit! {4,5} The bike back into town, towards the Inn, was very carefree compared to the rest of our day (yay for downhill breezes!).

1,2,3,4} Our last day on Block Island, we woke up around 5:30 and biked into town so we could watch the sunrise. Glad I was able to get these shots -- it lasted only about a minute after the first round speck appeared on the horizon. With our bodies still aching from being out of shape and biking so much on Saturday combined with waking up at the crack of dawn (literally), we decided to bike back to the Inn to get some shut-eye before going out for brunch.

{1,3} Brunch brought us back to Tap & Grille, located on the porch of The National Hotel. While lunch and dinner are pricier (about $$-$$$ depending on what you order), breakfast here is quite the deal. {2,3} Marcus and I each got an omelette (mine was a western with ham, peppers, onions, and cheese; Marcus's had spinach, sausage, and tomatoes), both under $10. Can't beat that! And they totally hit the spot -- simple breakfast was all we needed!

We had a leisurely afternoon after that -- did some minimal shopping, walked around town, climbed the jetty at Pebbly Beach, grabbed some coffee and tea from Juice 'n' Java before it closed early that day, and sat outside on the porch of the Narrangansett Inn to enjoy the view of the Great Salt Pond and all of the outdoor activities it had to offer.

All in all, Block Island was one of the most relaxing places I've ever visited -- everything is very laid back and care-free. It's a place for whatever you want to make of it -- whether you want to kick your feet back, do some outdoorsy things like biking, hiking, paddleboarding, etc. It is an unpretentious and a very quaint place to be. Plus, everything is pretty reasonably priced (unlike what you may find in Cape Cod or Martha's Vineyard). Looking forward to making it an annual destination! :D

--August 31, 2012 through September 2, 2012

Hampton Jitney

Viking Fleet

Champlin's Marina

Narrangansett Inn
1 Ocean Avenue
Block Island, RI 02807

Dead Eye Dick's
218 Ocean Avenue
Block Island, RI 02807

Block Island Chamber of Commerce

Ballard's Inn
42 Water Street
Block Island, RI 02807

Star Department Store
1 Water Street
Block Island, RI 02807

Sharky's Restaurant & Bar
596 Corn Neck Road
Block Island, RI 02807

Beckett's Authentic Gelato

Tap & Grille
The National Hotel
PO Box 189, Water Street
Block Island, RI 02807

Payne's Donuts
1 Ocean Avenue
New Shoreham, RI 02807

Three Sisters
443 Old Town Road
New Shoreham, RI 02807

The Ice Cream Place
232 Water Street
Block Island, RI 02807

North Lighthouse & Southeast Lighthouse
Corn Neck Road
Block Island, RI 02807

Rodman's Hollow
Peckham Farm Road
New Shoreham, RI 02807

Juice 'n' Java
235 Dodge Street
Block Island, RI 02807


  1. Glad you had so much fun! I'm super jealous!

  2. Thanks for pointing us in the right direction! <3



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