• 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.

Coasts / Shorelines

During powerful storms waves carry sand across the island resulting in overwash fans.
 

Beaches Are Constantly on the Move
Barrier islands are constantly on the move. Wind and water carry sand to and from our ocean and bay beaches, shifting the shoreline on a daily basis.

Shoreline science helps the National Park Service better understand the movement of sand along our dynamic shores, and is central to our goal of protecting Fire Island National Seashore for future generations. Learn more about coastal research at Fire Island.

 

Barrier Island Evolution
Storms drive the slow rolling over of the barrier island upon itself, like a conveyor belt of sand slowly inching northward. But even on a daily basis, the wind and waves are shaping and reshaping the shoreline. These daily changes are mostly gradual and barely perceptible and, oftentimes it isn't until the beach as we know it is dramatically transformed that we take note.

After Hurricane Sandy struck on October 29, 2012, for instance, the changes to the barrier beach were hard to overlook. The history-making hurricane brought with it high water levels and large waves that scoured sand from the dunes and beach face. In some places, the force of moving water pushed sand over the top of dunes and across the width of the island.

While storms can result in drastic landscape change virtually overnight, these larger-scale shifts also serve as a reference point from which we can observe smaller more gradual shifts in our shoreline. Whether slow or sudden, subtle or obvious, natural landscape change is certain and is an integral part of the evolution of the barrier island.

 

Learn More
You can find more information about the natural processes that shape barrier islands at the links below.

Global climate change is one of the critical natural resource issues that concerns the National Park Service. At Fire Island National Seashore, the major repercussion of changing temperatures lies in sea-level rise.

Did You Know?

Dead whale in swash on beach.

Whales and other marine mammals live in the ocean south of Fire Island. Occasionally, they are can be spotted from shore, and rarely a dead whale will wash ashore. More...