Located on the western end of Fire Island in the southern part of Suffolk County, Robert Moses State Park offers one of the nicest public beaches on Long Island, with all the recreational opportunities that come with the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re looking for a beach spot for swimming, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing or simply relaxing, Robert Moses is tough to beat.
About an hour and a half drive from the city, Robert Moses is the oldest state park on Long Island, having been founded in 1908. The park was formerly the site of hotel that was used as a quarantine location for immigrants arriving from Europe. Of course, using prime oceanfront real estate to keep people locked inside for weeks doesn’t make a lot of sense, so eventually New York took the property and turned it into what was then called Fire Island State Park.
Robert Moses the man was head of the Long Island State Park commission in the 1920s, and he was instrumental in obtaining an additional four miles of beach from the federal government. The park was renamed in his honor in 1964. (Don’t confuse this state park with a second named in his honor, Robert Moses State Park—Thousand Islands, which is located on the St. Lawrence River in northern New York State.) This Robert Moses State Park is one of the most popular attractions on Long Island, usually attracting about 3.5 million visitors a year.
What Makes It Great
People come to Robert Moses for the beach, and it doesn’t disappoint. In fact the park offers five miles of beautiful sandy beaches, which helps with the inevitable summer crowds. Of course, this is an island, and the Robert Moses Causeway is the only entry point. So the summer crowds can make it difficult to get to the park on a nice summer weekend.
But once you get there, you’ll find all the amenities you need to enjoy a day at the beach, including restrooms, showers, snack bars, and umbrella and chair rentals. There’s even grills in the picnic area for your own BBQ.
For boaters, a day-use basin is available for up to 40 boats. The western side of the park features an 18-hole chip-and-putt golf course that features native vegetation and great natural vistas. Field 5 includes volleyball courts and fat-tire bike rentals. Fishing is available from both the beach and piers. If you’re interested in escaping the crowds, Field 2 features a nice hike to explore the Fire Island Inlet on the opposite side of the island.
Just to the east of the state park is the Fire Island National Seashore and the well-known Lighthouse Beach. Until 2013, it was a clothing-optional beach, but Hurricane Sandy destroyed many of the natural dunes that had isolated the beach from the nearby lighthouse, and the National Park Service decided to make clothing mandatory once the previously hidden beach became exposed, so to speak.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone looking for clean soft sand, big waves (at least for the area) and clean water.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Robert Moses State Park does accept the Empire Passport, which allows users entry into most state parks. The fee for a yearly pass is $65. Daily entry fees are $10/car in the summer months. Swimming hours for most of the summer are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., although they vary slightly for each field. Additional fees may apply for fishing and boating permits. Visit the park website for more info.