Block Island, Rhode Island

Map Showing the Location of Block Island, RI

Block Island

Block Island is a tear drop-shaped, 11-square mile island in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is located approximately 13 miles of the south coast of Rhode Island and approximately 14 miles east of Montauk Point on Long Island, NY.

Block Island is named for Adriaen Block, a Dutch explorer who charted the island in 1614. William Kidd, the Scottish sailor, visited the island in 1699 shortly before he was hanged for piracy. While it has been rumored that Kidd buried treasure on the island, none has ever been found.

The Nature Conservancy has named the island one of twelve of “The Last Great Places in the Western Hemisphere.” Its rolling green hills have been compared to Ireland. With its 250’ high coastal bluffs, the island offers spectacular ocean vistas. Walking and hiking paths on 32 miles take visitors along a beautiful shoreline and through tranquil woods and meadows. Much of the island is reserved for conservation.

Picture of a Block Island Beach

Block Island Beach

A popular summer destination, the island offers 365 freshwater ponds and 17 miles of beaches for bird watching, fishing, swimming, kayaking and parasailing. Horse back riding and biking are also popular activities. Block Island Race Week, a week-long sailboat race, takes place every summer, and the annual Fourth of July parade and celebration is another favorite activity.

Island accommodations range from house rentals to hotels to inns, to guest cottages to B&Bs. The village features quaint Victorian charm. More than 50 shops and numerous art galleries beckon travelers. Both casual and fining dining options are available, as well as several taverns and nightclubs.

Points of interest include Old Harbor village, which has been declared a National Register Historic site, North Lighthouse built in 1867, and Southeast Light, a National Historic Landmark.

Interesting Block Island Facts

  • Artifacts indicate the island was likely inhabited as early as 1300 BC.
  • In 1524, Verrazano spotted the island, the first European to note its existence.
  • Officially named New Shoreham, Block Island is the smallest town in the smallest state.
  • About 1,000 residents live on the Island year-round.
  • There are no street numbers on the island.
  • Block Island is farther from land (island or mainland) than any other town along the entire eastern US seacoast.
  • The island is the site of numerous shipwrecks, including those of a two-masted schooner and a three-masted schooner. During World War II days before Germany’s surrender, a German U-Boat was sunk by the US Navy seven miles off the island.

Getting to Block Island

Picture of Block Island Southeast Lighthouse, Block Island, RI

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

Block Island can be reached by plane, private boat or ferry.

New England Airlines provides daily service to Block Island from Westerly, RI. Flight time is under 15 minutes. Located off I-95, Westerly is easily accessible by car and also Amtrak, which runs daily trains from Washington, DC, New York City and Boston to the city.

Two full-service marinas, Old and New Harbor, accommodate boaters.

Block Island Ferry Service

  • Block Island Ferry offers year-round service from Pt Judith, RI and is the only means of transporting four-wheel vehicles to the island. Reservations for vehicles are required.
  • Block Island Hi-Speed Ferry runs from May to October. A catamaran transports passengers from Pt Judith, RI to the Old Harbor in just 30 minutes.
  • Block Island Express runs from May to September. A catamaran transports passengers from New London, CT to Old Harbor in just over an hour.
  • Viking Fast Ferry runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day from Montauk, NY to New Harbor. The trip takes approximately an hour.

Getting Around Block Island

Once on the island, car rentals and shuttle buses are available along with bicycle and moped rentals.

Block Island Weather

Block Island boasts an oceanic climate that keeps the island cooler than the mainland in spring and summer and warmer in the fall and with months. Day-time temperatures in July and August typically range from the mid to upper 70s, while day-time temperatures in January and February range in the high 30s, with temperatures falling below freezing in the evening.

Photo credits: The map showing Block Island is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License. The Picture of the Block Island Beach is Wikipedia. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License. The picture of Block Island Southeast Lighthouse is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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One comment

  1. Block Island has been declared “one of the last great places” by the Nature Conservancy. If you are planning to visit the island use my insider’s guide to get all the information you need. I love where I live and writing about Block Island is my hobby. I’ll share all my knowledge so visitors may make the most of their time on island.

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