Cruising Block Island

Charming Block Island, just south of mainland Rhode Island, has something for visiting boaters of all types.
Block Island
Block Island’s near-coastal location makes it a favorite go-to cruising destination. [brandon]/

For a satisfying sampler of New England summer fun, cruise over to Block Island. A short jaunt from Montauk, New York, and Newport, Rhode Island, this charming isle offers 17 miles of beaches, 28 miles of trails, fascinating history, solid marinas, great restaurants and a laid-back atmosphere.


With 17 miles of beaches, Block Island has an expanse of sand for every type of traveler. Crescent Beach stretches for 3 miles along the island’s eastern shore. Mansion Beach at the island’s northern tip is quieter, better for beachcombing. Fred Benson Town Beach, at the island’s center, is beloved by families for its wide beach, shallow surf, extensive facilities, concession stand and summertime movies. A quarter-mile away is Scotch Beach, a “see and be seen” spot for teens and 20-somethings. For the party scene, head to Ballard’s Beach for tiki bars and live music.

Outdoor Activities

The Nature Conservancy once named Block Island one of 12 “last great places” in the Western Hemisphere because of its abundance of rare plants and animals, and the community’s dedication to conservation. The Block Island Conservancy offers free nature walks and programs during the summer.

It’s easy to explore the island’s natural wonders by hiking or biking along 28 miles of trails. The Mohegan Bluffs are a must-see, standing 200 feet high along a 3-mile stretch of the shore. It’s worth the 141 steps down to the beach to view the bluffs from the waterline. Birders flock to the island’s north end for the 127-acre Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, which hosts more than 70 migratory species in the fall. You can launch your kayak or paddleboard from your berth in one of the three marinas in the Great Salt Pond (West Harbor) to search for crabs and other creatures. Or book a fishing charter to angle for striped bass, for which the Block Island Sound is so well known.


A national historic landmark, the Southeast Lighthouse has been a beacon for ships from atop the Mohegan Bluffs since 1873. Its museum chronicles the history of New England’s highest lighthouse, including the time in 1993 when the bluff’s erosion forced a $2 million relocation of the lighthouse. In New Shoreham, the Block Island Historical Society showcases stone tools from the indigenous Manissean community, along with maritime and colonial memorabilia, and photos of island life during the Victorian era.


A Block Island institution, Poor People’s Pub serves casual fare as well as creative specials, such as duck pasta and saltimbocca pizza. Dead Eye Dick’s is known for its lobster and swordfish, which it also sells through its seafood market, Dick’s Fish & Provisions. Head to Block Island Oyster Bar and Grill for its namesake dish, harvested daily. Aldo’s Bakery provides boat delivery for its delicious coffee, pastries and light fare.