The most popular clothing-optional beach in New York before 2013, Lighthouse Beach of Fire Island, Long Island, New York, is a beautiful sandy beach a mere hour and a half from Manhattan.
Named after the Fire Island Lighthouse nearby, it used to be the most recognized nude beach in the state. Today, however, donning your birthday suit is prohibited, and can render you a maximum of $5,000 in fines and 6 months in prison. Women, however, can still go topless at the beach since it is technically legal to do so in any New York state beach.
Where is Lighthouse Beach Located?
Lighthouse Beach is located on Fire Island, which is found off the coast of Long Island, specifically in the Suffolk County. Technically, the beach is on the Town of Islip. This 1 mile or 1.6km stretch of sand is adjacent to the Robert Moses State Park, and can be reached through car or boat.
How to Get to Lighthouse Beach?
The beach is about 60 miles from Manhattan and travel time by car can range from an hour to 4 hours depending on traffic conditions. On average, travel time is about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
There are two bridges from the city of New York that lead to the island: The Robert Moses Causeway that leads to the west portion of the island, and The William Floyd Parkway that leads to the east. It is important to note that there are no public roads on the island, and the best mode of transportation to explore the island is by foot or bicycle.
There are parking lots by the entrances to the beaches, so taking your car with you won’t be a problem. In fact, Lighthouse Beach can be difficult to reach without a vehicle.
There are buses and boats from New York that go to the gateways of the island. The Fire Island Shooter is a shuttle service from Manhattan/Hell’s Kitchen that heads to The Pines and Cherry Grove areas of the island.
Lighthouse Beach’s Clothing-Optional Status
On February 5, 2013, an anti-nudity law was passed and this was enforced by the Fire Island National Seashore. After Hurricane Sandy destroyed the dunes that acted as a buffer between the beach and the private properties, as well as the Fire Island Lighthouse, complaints started to surface regarding unwarranted presence of nude beachgoers.
Many school children would visit the Lighthouse, where portions of the beach could be seen. The center of the beach was then turned into a clothing-required section, but as more and more people came to the beach, so did reports of lewd behavior and overt sexual activity.
As a family-friendly beach, authorities decided to ban nudity altogether, and thus, today, Lighthouse Beach is no longer clothing-optional. However, as mentioned earlier, women can still go topless since it is legal to do so in any New York State beach.
There is no shelter on the beach so it’s best that you come prepared. Bring your own chairs, umbrellas, food, and drinks. Also, there is a Carry-In, Carry-Out policy on trash as there are no trash receptacles on the beach. There are no lifeguards or concessionaires, too.
As for food, there are plenty of restaurants on the island. The most number of bars and restaurants are located on Ocean Beach. It is advisable that you bring cash with you since most businesses only accept cash payments.