If you live in New York City and considering a trip to Fire Island this season for the first time, you should know that it isn’t easy nor is there a way to get there on the cheap. Just being real. Newbies will be a bit stressed and drained when your feet actually touches down on sand.
How to Get to Fire Island (and How Much Do Tickets Cost)?
As you may know, getting a house in “The Pines” for the weekend during the high season costs thousands of dollars — and even more if it’s a holiday or party weekend. So it’s no surprise that a lot of New Yorkers day trip to the island and catch the ferry home in the evening.
Unfortunately getting to Fire Island isn’t just a simple swipe of your MTA card, getting onto a train and walking out onto a beach two hours later. We wish.
Whether you’re heading up there for a week or a day trip, getting there involves a few steps that will have you taking out your wallet, man bag or purse. Altogether, depending on where you live, the entire trip will take you anywhere from 2.5 hours to 4 hours and will cost you anywhere from $50-65 per person depending on when you go, when you buy and how you buy. Let’s break the legs down.
The table below is based on a departure from Penn Station and fares are current for the 2018 season. See detailed explanations regarding cost, timing, and transportation type below the table.
|Leg||To||Transport||Name||Low Cost||High Cost||Duration|
|1||Sayville Station||Train||LIRR||$27.50 R/T||$50 R/T||~1 hour 30 mins|
|2||Sayville Pier||Shuttle||Bus||$5 One Way||$5 One Way||~6-10 mins|
|3||Fire Island Pines||Ferry||Ferry||$18 R/T||$19 R/T||~25 mins|
- Long Island Railroad ($27.50 or $38 or $50 / 1.5 hours): Many Fire Island-goers originate at Penn Station in Manhattan. Take the Long Island Railroad to Sayville with a transfer at either Jamaica or Babylon station. An LIRR round trip ticket (R/T) from Penn Station to Sayville will run you $27.50 for off-peak tickets or $38 during peak hours. The entire trip takes about 1.5 hours not including wait times.If you forget to get your ticket at a kiosk (or running late) you can buy a one way ticket on the train, but that will cost you significantly more ($20 off peak and $25 peak). The tip here is not leave during peak/rush hour and make sure you buy a round trip ticket at a kiosk. The cheapest fare is $27.50 vs the most expensive $50. That’s nearly double. For the most updated fares, check out this link to the MTA fare schedule.
- Sayville Shuttle ($10 / 6-8 minutes): Once you get off LIRR at the Sayville station, you’ll need to catch one of the shuttles that will take you to the Fire island ferries so you can get onto the island.This 6-8 minute shuttle to the Sayville marina will run you $5 per person. You’ll need to take the shuttle back to the LIRR station on the way back, too, so that’s another $5.
- Sayville Ferry Service ($18 or 19 / 25 minutes): Okkkkkk now you’re off the shuttle and in front of the ferry dock, you have to get yorur Ferry tickets to Fire Island.There’s only a $1 difference between buying a round trip ticket ($18) vs. a one way ticket ($9.50). If you’re looking to save every penny for your day trip (we ain’t mad at you) then get the round trip ticket. If you’re liable to lose the round trip ticket, then stick with the one way. For the most up to date Ferry fares, look here.
Save Time and Money with Some Prep
No we’re not talking about Truvada, not everything can be solved with a pill. We’re talking preparation. When it’s all said and done, the cheapest and most efficient way to get to Fire Island will cost you no less than $55.50 round trip and take you approximately 2 1/2 hours if you do everything right.
If you’re unprepared, running late to your train during peak hours then your round trip can cost up to $79 — that’s 50% more. On top of that, if you don’t plan your trip to align with the shuttle and ferry, it might take you anywhere from 3-5 hours to get there — that’s an extra 1-2 hours of travel time!
You can save some time getting to / getting home from Fire Island with a little preparation beforehand. It all comes down to looking at the MTA schedule for LIRR to ensure they line up with the Fire Island Ferry schedule. That way you’re not wasting time waiting on the Ferry (going there) or the train (going back).
You can also buy tickets in bulk if you have a share and plan on visiting Fire Island several times during the season. The MTA offers a booklet of 10 LIRR tickets from Penn Station to Sayville that can bring your round trip cost down 15% (from $27.50 to $23.40). Not bad if you’re pinching pennies. The Sayville Ferry also has a similar deal of 40 Sayville ferry tickets that end up being approximately $7 each.
Our most recent trip back into the city had us taking the 10 AM Monday morning ferry to Sayville, taking the shuttle, and making the 10:32 LIRR back to Penn Station. We were back in Manhattan by ~12:30 and we’ve done this same trip a couple times. It seems like a very small margin of error from the shuttle to LIRR, but the shuttles are aware of the LIRR schedule. In this particular scenario, there’s about a 5 minute window from the time you get off the shuttle to getting on the train. It’s stressful the first time, but wholly satisfying, seamless, and efficient (no waiting).
Totally Worth It
Sorry if the post comes off intimidating; it’s meant to be helpful guide for first timers to FIP.
To be honest, I was extremely apprehensive about Fire Island. Not only was it really expensive, somewhat complicated to get there. and completely uncertain of whether it was my scene that I wasn’t convinced of the investment and time commitment.
Then one year, we lucked out and shared a house with a handful of friends for a weekend (at a decent price) and it was a great time hanging out, relaxing and the community didn’t feel as pretentious or snobby as the scene can be in big cities (but that’s another post altogether).
I’ll close this off by saying despite the cost and time investment, we’ve returned to Fire Island a few times and each time we get back to the city refreshed with no regrets. If you’re going there for your inaugural trip, do a little planning and it’ll only add to your enjoyment.