The Truth About Fishers Island

The local residents of Fishers Island, New York have an online reputation for keeping to themselves and treating tourists like flesh-eating vultures. So it came as a surprise when, just moments after tying our dinghy up to Pirates Cove Marina, a woman walking by turned to Karen and I and asked, “Do you two need a ride anywhere? I’m heading across town.” I guess, just maybe, not everything you read on the Internet is true [gasp!].

We declined the kind offer and set out to explore the island on foot. How’d she even know we were visitors? You have to let everyone know you’re a tourist, I told Karen as I adjusted my large Canon camera around my neck and the backpack on my back.

“Mhmm, yeah, I’m the tourist,” she replied. 

As we wandered the quiet, wooded streets we came across a number of locals who all greeted us not just with the obligatory mumble and head nod, but with actual smiles and articulate greetings.IMG_9360_1

Another misconception about Fishers Island is that the population is made up of blue-blazer and bow tie wearing seniors. And while that demographic is represented, the island offers much more diversity. We found this to be especially true when we stumbled onto a beach on the west side of the island where (at least) a hundred young people threw back red solo cups and tossed frisbees.

“Well, that’s different,” Karen suggested.

The rest of our day would be filled with requisite cocktails and an alfresco cookout. Afterwards we’d take the dinghy into the Fishers Island Yacht Club and set out in search of ice cream. One rule we’d made up that challenged this time-honored tradition was that we couldn’t use our phones to look at a map. We’d have to actually explore the town the old fashioned way.IMG_4599.JPG

The summer sun was setting, casting long shadows onto the quiet streets. The well-manicured landscapes and colorful homes with wrap-around porches gave you the feeling that you travelled back in time. Furthering that illusion was a gang of boys and girls tearing through town on their bikes. When was the last time you actually saw kids enjoying a bike ride with other kids? It was a welcome sight.

On a hunch, we followed their general direction until we were all reunited at Toppers ice cream shop, a pet-friendly hot spot in town where all the local kids hung out. If you were to take the phones from their hands, the scene would look like something from a 60’s movie.

We’d spend the rest of the weekend kicking back on the beach, exploring the island’s other harbors and generally enjoying some R&R.

A swift, Sunday sail later and we were back in Essex and preparing for the week ahead back in the real world. It’s funny,  I’ve probably passed Fishers Island from the water dozens of times, and because it didn’t have one of those popular destination names like Cuttyhunk, Shelter Island, or Block Island, I—and I suspect many boaters—never paid it much attention. It really is a gem hiding in plain sight.

So, if you’re looking to escape the world for a little while and slow things down on an island with small town charm to spare, a weekend on Fisher’s Island can be as refreshing as a cone of mint chip ice cream on a hot summer evening.

Just don’t tell the Internet.

7 thoughts on “The Truth About Fishers Island

  1. Dan – Nice sailing journal entry. Did you happen to meet my old friend (and fellow former sailing instructor), Lincoln White, the new General Manager @ Fisher Island Yacht Club?

    Also, thought you might like to see this, from our Chart Art collection:


    Paul Warren

    Uniquely Nautical

    1. Thank you, Paul. I didn’t meet Lincoln, but I hope to return to Fishers again soon. I don’t see any links or images in your comment. Please send it to my email at

  2. Another great story! Years ago, we tied up at a mooring on our way home from Block Island (on our way to Essex) during a very bad rainstorm. We did not receive a warm welcome from the bay constable who was anxious for us to be on our way the next morning. Glad that things have changed and that you and Karen had a lovely visit..

  3. Hi Dan,
    I would like to repost your piece on the Fishers Island website with credit to you. Can you email me?

    Thanks, Jane

  4. Dan: I suspect a number of your P&MY readers actually spend some time in, on, or around F.I. It’s bite is far worse then its bite! Visitors, cruising sailors or power boaters are always welcome. Hopefully they will behave themselves with due respect to the islanders. There are two places to eat for visitors near or at the West end of the Island: The Island’s Community Center has a good kitchen, is very informal, and I don’t believe anyone has had a bad meal there. It’s a bit of a hike (about 1.5 miles) from the FIYC Marina, but if one has a “boat bike,” that is a quick ride. There’s also the Pequot, which is a lot closer and mostly a full service bar. Under new ownership this year and for the summer of 2016 it appears they may only be serving wood-fired oven pizza (very good, I hear). Next summer there may be more food offerings. Come on back! Chris R.

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