• Miles of uncrowded white sandy beaches extend to the horizon, separating the clear blue ocean and undulating grass-covered dunes.

    Fire Island

    National Seashore New York

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Pet Restrictions in Effect March 15 through Labor Day

    Dogs/other pets (except for service animals) are not allowed in the wilderness or on any of Fire Island's federally owned oceanfront beaches from March 15 through Labor Day to help protect threatened and endangered beach-nesting shorebirds. More »

  • Backcountry Camping Permit and Access Procedures

    Reservations for required permits must be obtained through www.recreation.gov. Due to the breach at Old Inlet, access to both east and west wilderness camping zones must now be from Watch Hill or points west, and involve a 1½ to 8 mile hike. More »

  • Attention Watch Hill Ferry Passengers

    Due to channel conditions, delay or cancellation of ferry service between Patchogue and Watch Hill may occur. For updated ferry schedule information, please call 631-475-1665.

Origin of "Fire Island"

Fire Island—the genesis of its name sparks our imagination.

There are conflicting views as to the origin of the name Fire Island. The island may have been named after Fire Island Inlet, which appeared on a deed in 1789, and the inlet’s name may have started as a simple spelling error.

The number of inlet islands has varied over time, and it is likely that “five” or the Dutch word “vier,” meaning four, was misspelled on early maps as “fire.”

According to one hypothesis, the name is a corruption of the Five Islands patented by William Nicholls in 1688 in what is now the western end of Fire Island.

Under another hypothesis, the name originates from the fires reportedly set by pirates to lure vessels to shore.

Fire Island Beach appeared on charts in the 1850s, and folklore suggests the name arose from land-based pirates, or “wreckers,” who built beach fires at night to lure cargo ships onto shore.

Some say poison ivy gave Fire Island its name, either for its red leaves in autumn or its fiery itch.

Regardless of whether any of these hypotheses are true, the name Fire Island has long been applied to the western part of Fire Island. The more easterly part of the barrier island was known as Great South Beach until about 1920, when common usage extended the Fire Island name to the rest of the island.

The true origin of Fire Island’s name is obscure.

 

Did You Know?

Winter Backpacker in Fire Island Wilderness.

The Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness was named for New York Congressman Otis G. Pike, who served from 1961-79, and co-sponsored the bill to create Fire Island National Seashore in 1964. The Fire Island Wilderness was designated in 1980. More...