Block Island, RI Beach Guide
Block Island beaches are of the most beautiful in the world. Summer brings the crowds of families and day-trippers as well as a healthy throng of boaters. The rest of the year is quiet in Rhode Island, allowing mother nature to restore the pristine balance of sea and land. The ocean is accessible around the entire island. Explore the unspoiled shoreline and find your favorite spot.
A vacation on any Block Island beach makes for a most memorable family getaway. Relax on the island’s main beaches or explore more of the “off the beaten path” seashore. Listed here are details about some of the out-of-the-way beaches. Most are marked from the street with access signage and parking. A Block Island beach day is always fun and always free.
West Side of Block Island
Cooneymus, Dorrie’s Cove & Grace’s Cove
On the west side of the island are a few easily accessible coves. Cooneymus, Dorrie’s & Grace’s Coves are rocky, secluded beaches which you can get to by driving down the roads marked with their names and parking at the end. Good for a nighttime fire. (make sure you get a permit first). Popular with the teenagers and young crowd at night, you may come across a makeshift fort or remnants of a beach party. Daytime hunting for flotsam and jetsam is fun. Many odds and ends seem to float onto these shores – usually fallen from boats. During any nor’easter or hurricane swell you’ll find the surfers braving overhead waves. Usually, the waters are pretty tame here but are careful if you swim, it’s rocky and unpredictable.
Take Coast Guard Road toward the coast guard station on West Side Road and you will come to a great Block Island beach on your left. This is Charleston beach. You can swim here, this is also a good site for a clam bake! Lots of seaweed and driftwood for a fire. Further up on the right is Cormorant Cove, a popular site for clamming in the offseason and also for seal watching. Follow the road to the end and you’ll be at the coast guardhouse. There’s a path leading to what is called ‘the cut’. This is at the channel from the ocean into the great salt pond. You can watch the boats go in and out or cast out a fishing line, this is a good spot for landing a fish.
Take Corn Neck Road to Andy’s waymarked by a sign on the left. Ample parking and easily accessible, this beach lines the pond. Great for families with small children. The water is very mild. This is also the popular clamming spot in the summer.
Dump Beach & Bean Point
Continue along Corn Neck Road to West Beach Road. The road is easily marked by a sign for the transfer station (or the town dump.) Follow the road to the end and you’ll find what islanders still refer to as “dump beach.” This beach is rocky so be careful if you swim. Great beachcombing on this side of the island. If you continue south (you’ll need a four-wheel-drive) the road eventually ends at the bean point wildlife preserve.
You may walk the beach south, (or walk along the sandy road) around the corner and you are on the opposite side of the cut along the great salt pond. To your left is the pond, directly across from Andy’s way. This is not an easy beach to access, driving often results in vehicles stuck in the sand. The beach is usually free of people which makes it a worthwhile hike.
East Side of Block Island
Crescent or the most popular oceanfront begins in town where the ferry docks in Old Harbor and stretches all the way to the north point of Block Island, RI. There’s a tiny patch of sand inside the jetty where a handful of boaters anchor. Accessible from Water Street which is the main drag in town. You won’t find sunbathers here, just a dinghy or two.
Walk over the jetty north, pass by the Surf Hotel and you are on still on Crescent which actually extends a few miles – all the way to Clayhead. Walk a few yards north below the Surf Hotel and you’ll come upon an area now known as Baby Beach. Popular with mothers and toddlers and only a short walk from the road with easy access. The usually calm waters make it easy for the little ones to enjoy the ocean.
Fred Benson Town Beach
Continuing north you’ll run into family vacation central. Convenient and free parking in the lot or on the street. This is the only patch of shoreline with lifeguards and a pavilion with bathroom/shower facilities and a concession. The food concession is run by Rebecca’s take out. There are chair and umbrella rentals, kayak rentals, and more. Sometimes there are early morning exercise classes, and early evening art shows and concerts. You can also rent the facilities for your family events.
Traveling north from Fred Benson is Scotch. Accessible from paths from the road or from a small parking area on Scotch Beach Rd., this stretch is popular with the summer workers. You’ll see a volleyball net set up here, join in on the daily games and tournaments. There’s good body surfing here, the sand is usually free of rocks.
The next northern stretch of sand is Mansion, marked by the stone foundation of what used to be the lavish Searles Mansion and dance hall. You can get here easily by walking or biking along the road from Corn Neck. There is a parking lot, though the walk from the lot to the sand is a bit long. Popular with families, especially those staying at homes with private walking paths leading to the shore. Good for swimming and body surfing.
Clayhead and Pots & Kettles
From Mansion heading north, you run into Clayhead and pots & kettles. Clayhead is the cliffs that you first see when riding the ferry in from Point Judith or New London. This area is rocky and full of iron-rich clay deposits, great for shell and rock hunting. and if you continue north you’ll make your way all the way to the Northern Point of the island and the north lighthouse.
Cow Cove, Settler’s Rock & Sandy Point
This is another site that holds tradition for many families including the Families Memorialized on the Rock. The northernmost point of Block Island lies the North Lighthouse and the best sunsets on the Block. Settler’s Rock is here at Cow’s Cove, right where the settlers landed and swam to shore bringing with them the island’s first cows who were pushed off the boats and forced ashore. Attached to the rock is a plaque that holds the names of the original settlers of Block Island. You might recognize the names as some of these families are still here. Careful, it’s rocky here, not good for swimming on the ocean side as the rip current is fierce. On the other side, however, is Sachem Pond, freshwater and good for swimming. Many a late-night swim under the moonlight continues to take place here.
South Side of the Island
The south end is known for some of the best of the Block Island beaches. But really the answer is that great beaches are everywhere on Block Island. Accessible from almost any direction, you’ll find a spectacular patch of sand to suit you. There’s no such thing as a bad beach here so try them all. Before you explore one of the more hidden Block Island beaches you might try the main beaches on the east side of the island. Read on or use the links to find a different spot for each day of your family vacation.
On the southern side of the Block Island ferry dock and jetty, this beach is right in front of Ballard’s restaurant and inn, popular with boaters and with the young crowd. There are cocktail waitresses on the sand and daily live music outside. There’s also a busy volleyball court here with daily games and tournaments. There are lifeguards, it’s busy and sometimes noisy. If you are just on the island for the day it’s an easy stroll to the beach, right in town.
For a whole different experience, you can try one of the more secluded, off the beaten path areas. Harder to get to, maybe not the best for small children, but otherwise a must-see.
Continue south up Spring Street, pass by the southeast lighthouse and turn into the Mohegan bluffs entrance. A spectacular view awaits you from this point. Descend a mere 141 steps to a rocky area leading to the sandy shore. This is among the best Block Island beaches. At the bluffs, you will also find lots of green clay. Block Islanders like to use this clay as skin therapy.
Try it yourself: Smear the clay on your body, let it dry in the sun, then jump in the water and wash it off. It’s as good if not better than any spa body treatment. And it’s free.
Another popular surfing spot, not easy to get to for the average sunbather. Drive all the way down Snake Hole Road, there’s parking and then a steep walk down a treacherous path to the beach. Nude sunbathing is popular here. Not good for swimming. Strong current and rip tides.
Continue south and you will soon be turning a corner to the southwest side of the island. Most of the rocky beaches along the southwest side are only accessible by private paths. These areas are mostly frequented by surfers and fishermen.
Be careful: the surf can be rough, there are rip currents and it’s rocky. No lifeguards. Lots of erosion, do not walk directly under a bluff.
Block Island is Dog-Friendly
Joining the lucky dogs of dog-friendly Block Island? Bringing your best friend on vacation is what makes it a vacation.
Block Island is a haven for dogs. A vast majority of islanders have dogs. If you happen to see a dog without an owner remember: There are no stray, homeless or feral dogs on the island. Island dogs have a knack for appearing hungry and homeless, it’s just an act.
Dogs on Ferries
You may bring your leashed dog on the Block Island ferry, free of charge. The high-speed ferry service from Point Judith is also dog-friendly, but only on their outdoor decks. If the weather is bad you may opt for the ‘slow boat’ so at least you can ride inside.
Abide by the Law
According to the town’s ordinance, dogs should be on a leash at all times, kept out of public buildings, and leashed on the beaches. As dog lovers know, some places enforce their ordinances more or less in favor of dog owners – which is why you are reading this now. If you want to be sure about what is allowed and what is not, you may read up on Block Island’s Dog Ordinance.
Dogs on Beaches
The main beaches along the eastern side of the island are the most populated during the season. The Fred Benson Town Beach has postings that remind dog owners to keep dogs leashed. This is enforced. The beaches to the south and north of town beach, as well as the remainder of BI’s 360 degrees of beautiful beaches, are more lenient. As long as you are keeping an eye on your dog and cleaning up after him, there does not seem to be any problem with letting him have a good run.