By Alida Thorpe
Davis Park on Fire Island is so much more than a summer retreat. It is a community in every sense of the word. The inhabitants change with the seasons, but a feeling of belonging is always here.
At the center of town is a marina run by the Town of Brookhaven.
The marina, together with the homes of Leja Beach and Ocean Ridge make up the community of Davis Park.
Like many towns on Fire Island, you cannot bring your car.
In the summer, the marina is filled with boats. There is rarely an empty slip in July and August. Some families stay overnight and some just come for the day. There are about 250 boat slips, a playground, a picnic area, and public restrooms with showers.
The Davis Park marina. Empty after Labor Day, but packed all summer long.
You will see boaters who barbeque in the picnic areas and walk around the docks and boardwalks to socialize with other boaters, sharing food and drinks. It is a lot like camping, but you’re sleeping on the water.
The dockmaster's office at the ferry dock.
In spring and fall, the crowds are gone but the homeowners and weekend boaters still enjoy the beautiful Fire Island weather. There may not be the busy hustle of summer, but it’s enjoyable just the same. That’s when the community of property owners meet for fund raising and socializing. Davis Park is all theirs again!
Forgot to pack something? Don’t worry! There is a grocery store with just about anything you could want for a spontaneous overnight stay or a weeklong beach-house rental. Food and household items are for sale. A snack bar, adjacent to the store has outdoor seating where you can have breakfast sandwiches, burgers, wraps and ice cream!
The Casino is the only ocean front restaurant on Fire Island.
A restaurant called the Casino, has no gambling, but you can have a leisurely dinner with the view of the ocean, or you can sit outside on the deck for snacks and drinks. Check their summer schedule. They often have live music and dance bands that play outdoors on the deck. The summer crowd can get quite lively and it so much fun dancing outside with friends!
Water activities? Swim in the ocean or the bay. The ocean beach has professional lifeguards on duty all summer. At any time of year, you can go fishing in the bay or ocean. Most mornings, at sunrise, you will see the surf-fishing men and women, casting their lines into the ocean waves.
Do you like to walk? One mile east of Davis Park is Watch Hill. It is run by the Fire Island National Seashore and is definitely worth the walk from Davis Park, either along the ocean or on the boardwalk. There are nature trails through the marsh, a nature center, a restaurant and snack bar, and more. Check it out!
With roads like these, who needs cars?
Davis Park, the community, has an all-volunteer Fire Department that celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2006. Together with the Davis Park Police Station and a community run doctor’s office, you can feel secure that any emergency will be handled professionally.
Did you know that there is also a church in Davis Park? Church of the Most Precious Blood, a Roman Catholic Church in the Ocean Ridge area, is just a short walk from the ferry and marina. They hold Sunday Mass and host other community activities including a children’s movie on Wednesday nights.
There is even a post office! Only open in July and August, mail comes from Patchogue on the morning ferry and you can mail a postcard to family and friends.
Erosion has taken its toll on the Davis Park beach. One rule that must be followed by everyone is to "Keep off the Dunes." It is absolutely necessary to keep the dune plants growing and to keep the sand from blowing and washing away.
The roots of this beach grass will keep wind and waves from eroding the dunes.
This past summer, 2009, the beach has been regenerated by a community project, 80% paid for by the community and 20% by the government. Sand has been added from the ocean and beach grass has been planted as part of the project. Remember to stay off the dunes!
As part of the barrier beach that includes the Fire Island National Seashore, there is abundant wildlife, which becomes more obvious in the spring and fall when the birds are migrating and animals come into the unpopulated areas. You will see a variety of birds, and often deer, fox and rabbits. In September you will see migrating Monarch butterflies. It is the nature we often overlook on the populated areas of Long Island.
Beach houses bathed in morning sun. Fox and deer tracks left of the dune fence.
There are many rental homes and bungalows in the community in addition to the homeowners who stay from spring through fall. See a real estate agent if you are interested in renting. You can rent a small one-bedroom bungalow, a much larger house that sleeps 10 or more, and everything in-between. There are many options, so check it out! Enjoy what we have here on Long Island!
Retired teacher turned photographer Alida Thorpe shares her passion for Long Island with beautiful images that have appeared in New York Magazine, Vox Hamptons, Boating Times Long Island, and local publications.
Her Long Island photographs
have also hung in galleries at the Fire Island Lighthouse and Long Island's north fork
Find out more on the Davis Park Association Website.