As a temp who doesn’t get paid time off, I have to plan very carefully when I take a vacation. Fortunately, since I’ve been going to Fire Island for over 20 years, I’ve figured out how to have a complete Fire Island vacation in two days.
Now I should mention that there are two distinct Fire Island experiences. If you’re going to Fire Island to party, you should go there on the weekend. It will also be more crowded and expensive on the weekend.
If you’re going to Fire Island to relax, you should go there during the week. Rates will be cheaper and it will be less crowded.
This post is for non-A list gays like me who are going to Fire Island to relax. You won’t find anything in this post about the Pines, the Pavilion (the Pines dance club) or Tea Dance. In fact, the last few times I’ve gone to Fire Island, I didn’t even set foot in the Pines. I guess that makes me a Grove person. So be it.
One of the good things about squeezing your Fire Island vacation into two days is that you’ll be able to splurge. And you will splurge. Fire Island is very expensive. That’s because everything has to be shipped in from the “mainland” (i.e., Long Island).
My first stop when I get off the ferry and after I’ve dropped my bags at the Belvedere (a “guest house for men” and my preferred place to stay in Cherry Grove) is Sand Castle for their lobster roll. Don’t bother with the French fries. That’s not why you’re paying $35 and, besides, you’re not allowed to eat carbs on Fire Island.
After lunch you’ll have time for a swim (if you can call three strokes in the Belvedere pool a “swim”) and a walk on the beach. That’s the one thing the Grove Hotel has over the Belvedere: they have a better pool. But the Belvedere is an architectural masterpiece and the Grove Hotel has all the charm of a Motel 6.
But I digress.
I don’t like to just lie (or sit) on the beach. That’s boring. Walking is good exercise and you’ll see a lot of hot guys (if you’re walking in the Pines), but I should point out that they’ll probably ignore you unless you’re also hot. In which case, you’d probably be staying in the Pines anyway. I also don’t like going in the water because I’m terrified of waves. If God wanted people to swim in the ocean, he wouldn’t have invented swimming pools.
After your walk on the beach, it’s time for dinner. I suggest Island Breeze. Actually, I’d suggest Top of the Bay, but every time I’ve gone there in the last few years they’ve been “full.” (Maybe because I was by myself?)
At Island Breeze I had an excellent sesame-crusted tuna. But if you’re going to have dessert, stay away from the churros, unless you like your carbs fried and with sugar.
If you time your dinner properly (sunset is deal), you’ll segue right into Hedda Lettuce’s show at Cherry’s (if it’s a Monday). Lettuce can write jokes and sing, which makes her a rarity among drag queens. (I kid the drag queens!) But I’d suggest standing in the back unless you have a strong ego.
Monday is also Broadway Sessions at the Ice Palace, where they have Broadway singers perform. I unfortunately missed it this time because I assumed they were just going to have another drag queen. (Oh, snap! Did I say that?)
Breakfast at Floyd’s is a must. I recommend the Farmer’s Eggs, a combination of eggs, sausage (or bacon), potatoes and toast. You might want to break the carb rule for this one.
After breakfast, you have time for another swim, or you can just relax until lunch.
I hate to suggest Sand Castle again, but they are on the ocean. And since you can’t order lobster roll twice (well, you can, but I’m trying to give you options), you can try to Cobb salad. Just bear in mind that even when you try to order something healthy on Fire Island, they somehow find a way to make it unhealthy (usually by adding French fries or bacon).
After lunch you have time for another walk on the beach and then, voila! You’ve done it. You’ve fit your entire Fire Island vacation into two days and you still have time to catch the 6pm ferry.
If you follow my schedule carefully, you might even be able to squeeze in some sex.