Islands off the shore
Gardiners Island - Paradise between the Forks
Since the spring of 1639 it has been in the Gardiner family. The family's ownership has survived Indian wars, pillaging pirates, the Revolution, the Civil War and two World Wars. It has survived the income tax, the inheritance tax, the Depression, and bitter feuds.
Gardiners Island is the oldest family-owned estate of its kind in America, dating to the reign of Charles I of England. The 3,000-acre island holds a vast wealth of history. It has the largest stand of white oak in the Northeast, as well as rare birds, Indian artifacts, and one of the oldest wood-frame structures in New York State. Long Island history abounds in its fields and forests, its manor house and barns, the carpenter's shed built in 1639, and a stone wall built by slaves.
Block Island may belong to Rhode Island, but ask any of the Long Islanders on the ferry from Montauk, and they'll tell you it's their place.
The kind of resort island where shorts and short sleeves are acceptable attire just about anywhere, Block Island is a New England oasis just 14 miles off the coast of Montauk.
The island can be reached by plane, ferry or private boat, but most Long Islanders take the ferry from Montauk. Cars, however, can make the crossing only by ferry from Point Judith, R.I. Taxis for getting around are plentiful on the island.
Bicycling is popular with visitors, and bikes may be rented, along with mopeds, at various spots. The island is peppered with family-friendly pubs with live music, bakeries, ice cream shops and beaches with spectacular ocean views. It has miles of walking trails, and its free beaches have lifeguards, bathrooms with showers and concessions.
On the southern end of the Island, the Mohegan Bluffs rise 200 feet above the water and run along the coast for about three miles. Ocean views from the bluffs are incredible, and the site is also home to the Southeast Lighthouse, built in 1875. From the bluffs, you can walk down a steep flight of stairs to a beach known for its resident starfish.
If you go, consider staying overnight as the island packs a lot into its 7-by-3 mile frame. The Block Island Chamber of Commerce (www.blockislandchamber.com) keeps an availability listing for lodging. They can be reached by calling 1-800-383-2474.