Time for Shots: Photography on Block Island

There are plenty of reasons to put your phone away on Block Island. With plenty to see and do, the island is a welcome escape from technology. But what is summer if you can’t remember it in the depths of February when the days are short and the temperature is low. Here are five of our favorite places on the island to dig into the backpack and pull out the camera (but more often cell phone).

Whether it be for a selfie, a screen saver or a family photo these spots “capture” the island. Snap away and if you share the photo tag #Unlockedblock .

1. The FerryIMG_0892

It’s not everyday you’re on a ferry. Grab a shot of your traveling companions, your Bloody Mary or your wind-swept hair. A before and after Block picture might show you smiling a little wider and sporting a new t-shirt. The Block Island Ferry has a Friday photo contest. Upcoming themes include:

  • July 22: Pt. Photo Theme: A selfie or groupie on the ferry
  • July 29: Pt. Photo Theme: Wildlife on the island or in the water
  • August 5: Photo Theme: Favorite cocktail on the island
  • August 12: Photo Theme: A selfie or groupie on the beach
  • August 19: Photo Theme: Best Biking Experience on Block Island
  • August 26: Photo Theme: Your favorite place on Block Island

Submit your photo on Facebook or Instagram using the hash tag #BIFphotofriday on the specific Friday before 3pm.

2.IMG_1031 Abram’s Animal Farm and North Light Fibers

The farm is great place for an unexpected shot of a camel, a yak or any of the many animals at the farm. Don’t get too close; all animals deserve their personal space. Score a selfie with Cindy the Zedonk, for a fabulous one of a kind Instagram post.

IMG_34913. Mohegan Bluff’s Staircase

From the bottom or from the top, the view is desktop background worthy. Known for being a popular shot on the island make your angle an interesting one, don’t be afraid to change you’re focal point. Be there at sunrise for lighting that will feel magical or be there at sunset and enjoy watching the sky dance. The stairs and bluffs combination will inspire you when paired with the quote “there is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.”

IMG_33854. Your frozen delight

At some point during your trip to Block Island there is going to be ice cream or some other frozen goodness. If you can help yourself, pause yourself before you devour your frozen treat. Find a scenic background near your scoop shop of choice and savor the beauty of the cone in a “freeze” frame. Or make it a family affair, have everyone put his or her cones in for a group shot.

5. Sunset

With a sky that likes to show off, Block Island sunsets are clearly worth the shot. Head west for the best views and do not be afraid to wait. The closer the sun gets to completely disappearing the better light. And if you are looking for a good time to capture a picture of yourself or group, wait until the last hour before sunset. It is known as the “magic hour” by photographers, it makes for amazing lighting and for every side to look like your good side.IMG_1205

How many like have you ever got on a BI instagram photo? Pics or it didn’t happen? Does anyone else like taking pictures of other people taking selfies or is that just me?

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Type A Itinerary: Day Tripping Out

Whether it is because of your overzealous boss or your fear of commitment, sometimes an overnight stay on Block Island is out of the question. Don’t worry, a day trip to Block Island still allows for exploration and adventure (just squeezed in between the first and last ferries).

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Dressed for success.

The night before your epic trip: pack. Pack light, you will be turtle-ing around all day (that means carrying your home on your back). A backpack can’t be beat especially if you choose to hop on a bike.

In your pack: small beach towel, sunscreen, reusable water bottle, heat-resistant snacks (just not chocolate protein bars please!), lightweight coverup/outfit swap, CASH (and credit cards, if we’re being honest).
I suggest wearing layers: bathing suit, movable clothing, and a light sweatshirt. Bonus tip: if you have a sweatshirt you are ready to part with, wear/pack that and use it if needed or discard if it’s 80 and awesome.

The ferry will feel like home on a day trip. Scout out the best times. Push yourself to get out the door early. The first ferries will be a lot less crowded than say the 10 or 11am.

As you come off the ferry, don’t let the hub but of Water Street make you feel out place. You are just as Block Island as you believe you are. Just don’t act like like a totally new guy. That includes: not using a map in the middle of the sidewalk, asking a busy employee about a business that is not their own, or most importantly, saying you prefer the Vineyard.

Wheels. If you got ’em bring em. Moped or bicycle. It is cheaper to pay the ferry fee than the rental shop. Be sure to bring along your own bike lock. If you don’t have your own. There are a number of bike rental shops right when you get off the ferry. Be a know it all and go one street back to Aldo’s Bikes, beat the ferry rush and be on your way.

The wheels will expedite the exploration process and allow to see more on your short visit.

Time for Snack attack. If you skipped breakfast or am just hungry. Time to fuel up while you are near some great options. Old Post Bagels and Top Side Cafe are great quick options for breakfast fare. IMG_0038.jpg
If you are looking for a one of a kind sit-down meal early in the day, Bethany’s Airport diner is an awesome spot. Hop on those wheels and take a short ride to the airport where you can grub on and watch the beautiful people come and go on their aircraft.

IMG_4063.jpgLet’s go to the BEACH, BEACH. This is WHAT YOU CAME HERE FOR. Swim, walk, surf and chill on any of Block’s beaches. You know how to do this part.What I can advise on is if you are looking to rinse off after a sandy session there are showers located:

  • Fred Benson Beach Pavilion
  • Ballard’s Beach
  • Old Harbor (near the boats)

If you grabbed something to eat when you arrived then went exploring it may be mid-afternoon by the time you want to eat again. This is great because you don’t want to be chowing down a big meal minutes before your ferry depart. Have a nice linner (otherwise know as dunch). Don’t bother looking for a happy hour drink menu, it is illegal in Rhode Island to discount alcohol for given times. Inquire about late afternoon food deals, though, a common replacement. IMG_0004.jpg
If you are looking to relax (as if you were at home) the lawn at The Spring House or at The Oar are great options with great food, drinks, and lawn games.

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A cone a day, keeps the boys away.

When it is time to go home, be prompt. Ferries don’t care if you don’t have a hotel room. Save the trip back for instagraming your “carpe diem” kinda of day.

Plus, because you earned it grab some frozen happiness once you get off the ferry at Brickley’s Ice Cream in Narragansett.

If you were on Block Island for a day what would be your first stop? Do you have day trip tips? How many ice cream cones can you eat in one day?

Ferry Facts

 

People love Block Island. They just sometimes don’t love getting here, but done right the journey to Block can becomes of the fun of the trip. Here are a few facts about the people, car, and stuff moving ships that bring visitors to Block.

1.There are two types of ferries.

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Load it up.

 

The traditional ferry operates year-round and carries most of the “big” stuff including cars, mopeds, mail, and my favorite, PEAPOD. The traditional ferry takes approximately one hour from Point Judith, the only port it operates from. Beyond cars the boat also offers crate transportation. For $9.50 you can load a crate with all of your stuff (great if you are living on the island) and it will be brought on/off the ferry for you.

IMG_0031.JPGThe fast ferries (also know as Hi-Speed) carry a lighter load and a Godzilla engine. It flies the seas but only carries passengers and bikes. The ride times vary from the different ports the fast ferries depart from, which brings me to my next point…

2.There are multiple ports.

Depending on where you are coming from the ferry you take may change. There are ferries arriving on Block Island from 4 states! So no excuses, get to Block. Click the individual ferries’ names to be linked to their schedules.

The Point Judith ferries (Traditional and Hi-Speed) leaving from Narragansett, RI offers the shortest distance to Block. This port offers the greatest number of trips daily. Be sure to look at the day of the week on the schedule as well. The traditional ferry takes 1 hour while the fast ferry takes 30 minutes.Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 10.39.15 AM.png

After Point Judith, the most popular port is New London, CT. This fast ferry, operated by the Block Island Express, takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, so take a motion-sickness pill if you’re prone to being a victim of the waves. Starting July The 7th, on Thursday nights the BIE sends a 3:10 boat to Block with an 8:10 returning boat for“2 for 1 Dinner Run”. The half priced tickets allow for a wonderful short trip to the island to enjoy a dinner and a sunset. Be sure to reserve your spot.

The Fast ferry from Newport, RI allows the rich and beautiful people of Newport to visit Block Island. The only caveat of this port is that it normal makes only to round-trips daily. The travel time is approximately 60 minutes. This boat operates June 25 until September 5.

If you want to skip traffic, Fall River Hi-Speed Ferry operates one-round trip daily from Fall River, MA. The trip is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Starting June 25 the ferry leaves at 8:30am and departs at 5:55. The boat does stop in Newport.

Some people forget about the ferries that come from Long Island. The Viking Superstar ferry arrives in Old Harbor (versus New Harbor where all other ferries arrive). The boat sends one round-trip from Montauk, NY. The trip takes one hour. Just know that if you are traveling with big bags and staying in New Harbor, you might want to consider a cab!

3.Reserve your right to reserve!

Most of the ferries let you breathe easy and reserve your spot on the boat ahead of time (through their websites!). When the season is in swing it can be difficult to even get on a ferry at a peak time of day. There are stand-by lines.

Here are the times you should make a reservation:

  • You are bringing a car on the Traditional ferry (do this AS SOON AS POSSIBLE)
  • You are traveling “in-season” on a fast ferry o

When you don’t need to:

  • Mid-week high season
  • Typically anytime you are just a passenger on the traditional ferry
  • Mopeds, they do not take reservations for mopeds or bikes

 

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These people only made it on thanks to this truck. Timeliness people!

4.Be Timely

Ferries leave on time. Give yourself ample time to arrive, park and buy tickets at the ferry on the mainland. There is always some sort of unexpected traffic that you will hit and the boat don’t care.

On the island side, there is a little less to worry about, but still make be there on time. You won’t be the only one getting on the boat.

5. There is parking (and transportation on the other side!)

At each port, there is a place to park your car. But be prepared, you will have to pay. On the island side, taxis wait for your tourist dollar to cart you to your hotels with your heavy bags. Inquire at your hotel if they offer guest pick-up (ahead of time). They typical may not, if you’re nice you never know.

6. The boats are weather permitting.

High winds, storms and other “acts of god” may cancel the ferry service. Normally the ferry companies will email you if you have a reservation, but if things look ominous outside give the ferry a call or check the website and spend less time sitting on your suitcase in the parking lot.

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Seriously, I can’t get away from this guy.

7. You will see those people again!

Make sure you are kind and considerate to the people you ride the ferry with. Block Island is a small place and if you cut people off in the rush off the boat, you will continue to bump into them again and again.

What’s your ferry fact to add? Do you have a favorite drink on board? Do you have to be a conservative to ride the “traditional” ferry? 

Dough Not Panic: Panye’s Killer Donuts

Funny story, and lesson learned. Don’t lock the key to your moped IN youmoped. It leads to high stress and lots of favor asking. Yes, yesterday afternoon I had a slight bonehead moment. I was distracted with my busy afternoon; a surprise visit from my favorite island dogs and sister Kerry followed by a great interview with island artist Ben Woleberg. With my mind tired and elsewhere, I made my big mistake.IMG_3940

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In the moment of realizing what I had done, I was on the brink of pancic, but the island walked me back from the cliff. Everything was going to be alright, these things happen. Chill.

And it was, I was able to pry the seat open this morning (with the assistance of my one of my Spring House fellows). On my cloud 9, I was ignited with the sense to share my utter joy. I used the chance to accomplish a Bucket List item, Panye’s Donut surprise.

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Panye’s Killer Donuts is located in New Harbor and is an island favorite. The shop serves traditional style donuts in three flavors; plain, sugar and cinnamon. They are served up hot and made just minutes before you are licking your fingers of the sugar post-donut. At $1 per piece the donuts can not be beat. They are extremely popular so there may be a line, but patience is rewarded.

My pleasure doubled with both the taste of these killers, and the joy of giving them to my co-workers.

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My roommate Hope received hers while still in bed, but she deserves it as she deals with my early bedtimes and crack of dawn wake ups.

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James needed a little spike in the blood sugar to provide supieor front desk service.

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It was a great Friday at the Spring House with a storm rolling in at sunset for some beautiful skies. Keep Calm and find a spot to watch the sky play. The Spring House is featured in an article by the Wall Street Journal, check it out. I am expecting a few extra inquires tomorrow due to the publicity!

Have you had Panye’s Donuts before? What’s your favorite type of donut? Stories of lost keys to make me feel a little less like an idiot for this one?

Pre-Island Preparations: Unsolicited Advice Part I

You didn’t ask for it, but here you go. A little advice never hurts, so to make your trip to Block Island #asgoodasitgets, follow these tips for a hole lot of awesome. As many find themselves finally headed to the island for their summer getaway, I have put together a short list of a few insider tips for your island time. With my first (over-night) visitors coming out next week, I felt inspired to share my “expert” advice.

Give it read, if you are already an island connoisseur, what would add? If it is your first trip, take notes, a little bit of preparation and foresight can make a world of difference to your much-deserved vacation. They’ll be coming at you in two parts, so keep an eye out for part two later this week.

  1. You Heave you LeaveIMG_3584

Well the classic Hot-dog eating competition slogan, can be applied to Block as well. The point here is that medical care on the island is limited. The access to medicine and doctors is available, but the island is not the place to treat real issues. So if you are truly sick, hurt or need special care, be prepared to leave the island. In addition, pack extra medications, painkillers, sunscreen, and etc. What is available on the island is very often more expensive than on the mainland. Or if you are not feeling 100% before your trip consider postponing your trip.Sometimes the High Speed is the Culprit for tummy troubles, plan meals accordingly.

  1. Can I Speak with Someone in Charge?

Yes, yes you can. As you go about the island, you will notice there are no chain retailers or hotels (the one exception is Ben & Jerry’s, but we’ll give them a pass). This means that all businesses are small and the owner is often in the building when it is open, if not taking your order at the counter. Knowing this, seek out the owners in the places you like best, the owners will likely love to hear your praise and make you their new drink of the day. This goes the other way too, if you are unhappy with the service, there will likely be someone ready to respond.

  1. Can I take your order?

In addition to the owners of many businesses being extremely present, the employees of the island seek to please. One thing to know is that many employees are living off the tips you are leaving, and many work multiple jobs to do that. With this, be patient with foreign employees, they will bend over backwards to help you and want to speak as much English as possible. Talk to worker, though they are seasonal they know the island, and can give the best advice, directions and know-how (they have even have a blog about the island).

  1. Pack Yo’ Bags

Considering the journey you will be taking, pack accordingly. I am referring to how you pack. The ferry trip and walk to your hotel may be a few extra steps that you are used to taking with luggage. Break out that mega rollie bag you brought to Europe and stuff it up, lightening the extra multiple bags juggle.

Another something to remember as you pack up is a backpack. Biking around the island is the best way to commute, but you will want to bring your things along (think towel, snacks, wallet). A backpack is a definite must have for island adventures. Plus they make a for an easy time on the ferry.

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Backpacks make for a better life.

  1. Two Wheels are better than None (or make that 4)IMG_3392

Don’t bring your car. Seriously, the island is small. You are able to get anywhere where you want to be in a matter of two miles or less, further if you are adventurous, but a bike or moped does the trick. Bring your own bike if you can and save yourself the rental fees, but even if you have to rent enjoy the island as some time away from the four-wheeled SUV that you have come to loathe. Remember to lock your bikes whenever you leave them, it is a very safe island, but bikes do disappear whether it be a greedy soul or a confused renter who mistakes yours for theirs. If a car is a must, make sure to make a reservation for the ferry!

IMG_3628There’s the first half of my list of good to knows. What have I missed? Experts what would you add? Newbies, what questions do you have left? Comment below, and I’ll answer anything I missed in Part II.

Type A Travel: A Senior’s Afternoon

IMG_3565I had my first visitors come out to see me on Friday. My grandparents, both 85+, made the ocean voyage to see their favorite grandchild. I was so excited to have them and to get to show my favorite spots on the island like an expert tour guide. I did not take the job lightly.

I am what some call “Type A”. I know what I want to do and then I set out a very clear path of how I am going to get there. With this sometimes relaxing on vacations is nothing but stressful. Just lay on the beach? But think of all the things I could have done in the mean time! The places I need to go and see!

I have decided to use my powers for good and help all my readers seize the days they spend on Block with Type A Travel Itineraries. My first guinea pigs: Joanne and Brownie.

An Afternoon on The Block

12pm: Ferry arrives at Old Harbor

They arrived mid day which allowed them to take their time getting down from NH. This day plan would be good for those looking to spend just a half day on the island.

12:30pm: Lunch at the Spring House

A lunch out on the veranda of the Spring House is worth the extra few bucks. As I’ve reviewed before, the food and scenery are excellent. The grandparents dined on Clam Chowder and Fish and Chips that were both very much enjoyed.

2pm: Catnap on the LawnIMG_3563

The views cannot be beat from the Spring House lawn, and their welcoming chairs make it a great place to savor the island beauty. Grab the Block Island Times from the front desk, and have no shame of a food comma washes over you, your tour guide will wake you up.

2:30: Driving Island Tour

Southeast Lighthouse: Follow Spring Street about a mile to see the island’s oldest lighthouse. A walk out to the lighthouse, and fence offers great views of the bluffs and a distant Long Island. Fun Fact: The lighthouse was moved 100 yards back from the cliff in 1993; at the time it was the largest structure to ever be moved in one piece.

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Mohegan Bluffs: Just down the road from the Southeast Light are the Bluffs. The stairs that lead down them are steep but manageable. My grandparents and I only went about half way, but the views were still great.

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Around-a-about Drive: From the bluffs we continued around the southern end of the island with sightings of The Painted Rock, Rodman’s Hallow, New Harbor, the Coast Guard Light House. All sights to definitely worth stops, but this trip called for function over favoritism.

Northern Light: The final stop makes the whole trip round out in a way; from top to bottom of the island the tour includes the beauty of block within a short trip.

4pm Old Harbor Wanderings: Here you have some choices, depending on when you are choosing to take the ferry back to the Mainland

-If you are on the 5pm (like Grandma and Gramps), use your final hour to grab a t-shirt from one of the shops down town, Star Department Store was our pick. Grandpa had different priorities though, as Grandma and I pick out her souvenir, he slipped out to The Ice Cream Place, which he had been eying since arriving on the ferry. Well nourished and fatigued, their ferry pulled away and their afternoon on Block was complete.

-If you are on a later ferry, take a little more time along your island loop. Back downtown in Old Harbor, walk up to Abrams Animal Farm, see the Yak, and enjoy the island time. Head back into town and grab a drink at The National, whose patio overlooks the harbor. Dinner options are in high quantities, but a shout out goes to Finn’s Seafood whose corn on the cob is heavenly. Depending on the night Captain Nick’s will likely have live music for your listening pleasure. Don’t worry, the last ferry doesn’t leave til 9! If you are feeling lucky, head to Old Island Pub and try your luck with some Keno, maybe I’ll win back the ferry fare.

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Shout out to my father and grandfather on Father’s Day today! Dad, I wouldn’t be on this island without you (seriously, you drove me here!). Your high expectations push me to succeed in the best ways! Grandpa, you’ve been around the block a few times, and keep it real as you go. Thanks for the visit!

How are you celebrating father’s day? 5 short hours on Block, did I capture the island for my visitors? Comment below!

Getting On Block

This place is awesome.

I had high expectations, but so far this island has reach beyond my wildest imagination. But first, getting here. It was a slightly more than a hop, skip and a jump to reach Block (with the added difficultly of all my things). I decided to bring my moped to the island so bring it down required the help of my loving (and hopefully reading) father. We roped up the scooter on the trailer and pittered on down the high with each bump of the road making my stomach drop. We reach the Point Judith Ferry, parked the trailer, reloaded the bike and got in line ready to load the ferry.

IMG_8735To get to the island there are a couple of different choices. Depending on your price range, timing (of day and season) and amount of junk in your trunk (if you know what I mean) consider the following:

Traditional Ferry: The ferry from Point Judith can carry cars, bikes and mopeds, but takes slightly longer than the fast ferries, go figure. The boat had an interesting loading process in Point Judith of backing onto the ferry and I can only assume back off onto the mainland on the return trip. The boat offers snacks and more importantly a bar (sea sickness bags are available). The boat left on time and took just about an hour. There is also a slow (cough, I mean traditional ferry) from Newport with 2 trips daily.

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Wind in his hair, working the camera.

Fast Ferry: There are fast ferries from Point Judith, RI (30 mins); New London, CT (75 mins); Fall River, MA (180mins) and Montauk, NY. These boats will get you to the island faster, but all do not have spaces for the soccer mom minivans or even hot Italian guy mopeds. Additionally, the fast ferries charge for their top notch speedy  transportation, so bring the credit card, you’re not go to want to see this one.

Plane: This is for the beautiful people. Cape Air and New England Airlines service the island. NEA offers $95 round-trip flights from Westerly Airport (Westerly, RI). Fast option by far, be on Block under 15 minutes, can’t beat that. Make sure to have the driver waiting.

Yes, there are many ways to reach Block, but even the slowest route got me here. And a little bit a of patience has gotten me to my new home. I hope to not leave it for a while. Pro tip: Make a restoration! You are not the only one trying to get to paradise.