The Fire Island Water Taxi is the fastest and funest way to get around on Fire Island. It’s also the cheapest speedboat ride around.
I’m asked more questions about the water taxi than anything else about Fire Island, and I think I understand why.
I mean, it’s almost unbelievable that a simple phone call can get you from point A to point B by boat.
And for a reasonable price too.
Well, the Fire Island Water Taxi does just that and here’s everything you need to know about how it works…
The water taxi is the perfect compliment to the Fire Island ferry. While the ferry takes you from Long Island ("the mainland") across the Great South Bay to Fire Island, the water taxi is how you get from one town on Fire Island to another.
Water taxis in Ocean Beach dropping off and picking up at sunset.
I should note here that the water taxi does make cross bay trips. This can be very convenient if you miss the last ferry, have an emergency at home, or just don’t want to ride the ferry for whatever reason. But, for the most part, I think of the water taxi as strictly a lateral service.
Running on a rough hourly schedule the Fire Island Water Taxi traverses the length of Fire Island all day long and most of the night.
Say you’re in Atlantique and want to have dinner or go shopping in Ocean Beach. Just call the Fire Island Water Taxi and ask when the next boat is from Atlantique to Ocean Beach. They’ll tell you about what time the next boat will be there.
Show up at the dock at the appointed time and you’re on your way. Chances are you won’t be the only one waiting for the taxi, so it pays to be a few minutes early just in case there’s a crowd.
Left: These signs nailed to the pilings tell you where the taxi landings are.
In most places the water taxi picks up at the ferry dock, but if you’re not sure where the pickup point is just ask someone, anyone. Chances are they’ll know and point you in the right direction. When you see the sign you know you’re in the right place.
Once aboard you’ll you have a choice of sitting inside or out. These boats are fast, so the wind factor is huge. If you’re sensitive about your hair you’ll definitely want to sit inside.
Once everyone is aboard and the boat leaves the dock a mate will make his rounds asking each passenger where they’re going and then collecting the appropriate fee. Tips are appreciated and generally I give a dollar each way.
Five friends from Fair Harbor enjoy the breeze and ride outside.
Now it’s time to hold on. I’m not joking either. The water taxis cruise in excess of 30 knots (35mph) which is very fast on the water. Some people joke that riding the water taxi is taking your life into your hands. Well, the ride can be very exciting, but it really isn’t that bad—most of the time.
My most memorable ride was a short trip from Ocean Beach to Kismet. On the boat with me was a crew of housemaids heading to their next job. These were big, jolly women that despite their limited English had no trouble expressing themselves after the boat reached cruising speed.
Our ride was fast and furious. The channel was particularly rough that day and we bounced around so much we had a hard time staying put on the seats.
With every jolting wave the cleaning crew screamed with a combination of fear and excitement, and then fell into hysterical laughter.
Right: Inside the water taxi are bench seats. The larger taxis have a seat running down the middle as well as on the sides.
Their laughter was infectious and when we got off that boat we were all laughing so hard we could barely walk.
But most rides on the Fire Island Water Taxi are pretty uneventful. You board the boat, it screams to the next stop, and you get off.
The boats are piloted by USCG licensed captains so you are in good hands.
Check out my short video of a typical taxi ride.
The Fire Island Water Taxi runs 7 days a week from Labor Day to Memorial Day weekend and weekends only between Mother’s Day and Labor Day, and between Memorial Day weekend and Columbus Day weekend.
The first boat of the day is usually around 9am and the last boat time varies. It could be anywhere from midnight to 2am depending on the day of week and the town. It’s always best to ask when you call.
Fares are determined by how far you travel. Use the the table below to figure the cost of riding the Water Taxi. For the most up to date information please visit the Fire Island Water Taxi zone and fare page.
Fares for 2012.
The table is very easy to use. Say you want to go from Kismet to the Sunken Forest (SH on the table). That’s $16.00. Atlantique to the Fire Island lighthouse (LH) is $10.00. Saltaire to Dunewood, $8.00.
The smallest of the fleet.
Considering the speed and frequency of the service, and the cost of fuel I think the prices are reasonable however, if you do a lot of traveling the cost can add up.
What I frequently do to save a little money is walk one way and use the Fire Island Water Taxi for the ride home.
Left: Off to the next stop, Courier and passengers depart from Ocean Beach.
For example, after playing on the beach all day in Atlantique I’ll take a shower, put on some decent clothes and ride the taxi to Ocean Beach for dinner.
When I’m done I'll take a leisurely stroll on the beach back to my boat. This is a great way to work off dinner and to see Fire Island at night—the sky is black and rich with stars. Something you don’t see from Long Island very often.
So next time you’re on Fire Island make a point of riding the Fire Island Water Taxi. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s a big part of the Fire Island experience.
Fire Island Water Taxi
Most people get to Fire Island by ferry. Here's everything you need to know about riding the Fire Island Ferry.