Getting around Block Island
You just landed on Block Island, so how are you getting around? Here's the scenario: the ferry pulls into the dock. Unless you have taken the Montauk ferry, which docks in New Harbor, you'll disembark into the parking lot at Old Harbor. Now what?
The organized chaos here is comprised of vacationers dragging luggage, bikers with backpacks, cars driving off the boat and people waiting at the dock for loved ones, friends, fellow tourists or freight. Throw into the mix the dock workers driving their forklifts back and forth at top speed. With all the commotion comes safety risks. It is important to pay attention to where you are walking/biking/driving. If you need information at this point you'll find it right there in front of you at the Chamber of Commerce. It's in the small building with the big sign that says 'Visitor's Center'. The islanders that work here will be happy to answer questions and you may pick up a map or a brochure.
Chamber of Commerce
If you landed on this 'getting around' page and need to know how to get to the island from wherever you may be, our travel section has all the answers you need in great detail.
Remember, these are real streets with real traffic. There's a tendency for visitors to lose their bearings while on vacation, tourists are frequently seen wandering in the streets without looking one way; never mind both ways. Perhaps the excitement of vacation or the sea air or fact that the town looks like the 1800's makes people not able to remember how to navigate a busy street. Islanders lovingly refer to these people as 'vacation heads'. Of course you are not one of them so you'll blend right in!
Taxis on Block Island are great for getting around and relatively inexpensive transportation. There are about 30 or so taxi services owned by island locals. Taxi stands are visible at all three marinas.
There are no meters however rates are set by the town. You'll be charged by zone and the number of passengers. Drivers are a wealth of knowledge and will be happy to answer your travel questions and make recommendations on just about everything. Most taxi drivers will take you on a one hour Block Island tour. The cost is approximately $50 for 2 people. Additional passengers are $10 each. You'll get a comprehensive guided tour of the island as well as some inside information and colorful opinions.
Taxis are everywhere in July & August. If you are visiting in the slower months and cannot find a ride, just ask your waitress, bartender or shopkeeper to recommend or call one for you. There are a handful of drivers that work as the bars close (1 A.M.). They wait outside the night clubs and bars or at one of the taxi stands.
You won' t find a ride late night (after 1:30am) so arrange a ride ahead of time. If you become stranded you might have to walk! Keep in mind that drivers stay clear of really intoxicated people and the open container law is strictly enforced. Many a festive 'late nighter' has found himself being taxi'd by Block Island's finest, right to the cold and lonely jail cell.
Bike Block Island
Bring your bike on the Block Island ferry for a small fee. Rent a bicycle for a day, weekend or week from any number of bike rentals at the marinas or around the island. Do keep your bike locked, there are bike stands everywhere. For every unlocked bike there's a late night partygoer without a ride home!
Getting around by bike is a great way to see the island and it's a fun activity
for the family.
Suggestions for family bikers:
- Least experienced bikers in front - If the kids are just learning to ride you'll want to keep a close eye on them.
Rent a double bicycle - These are built for safety and many have a smaller bike on the back.
Cabooses are Dangerous - Those child toting cabooses (a.k.a. 'kiddie coffins') that are attached to the adult's bike can easily sway out into the road without the biker's awareness. They work well for toting beach chairs, coolers and toys.
Know the rules of the road - such as using hand signals. Night riders should use reflectors and lights. Many places in the US ticket for reckless night riding.
Taking responsibility for family safety on the roads applies to anyone on the road, not just cars.
Rent a Moped
Mopeds are for rent at the marinas, on Water Street next to Rebecca's, Chapel Street which is off Water Street; or parallel to Water Street and just behind it on Weldon's Way, "moped alley" as it is referred to by islanders. All charge the same rates. Look for deals during the off season or toward the end of the day. There are a limited number of mopeds for rent as it is regulated by the town. Mopeds are very popular and make getting around the island fun.
This mode of transportation is not shared by many islanders, especially the ones that comprise the volunteer rescue squad and attend to the daily moped accidents. As long as you pass the mini lesson and wear a helmet you can rent a moped, but if you've never driven a moped, scooter or motorcycle, Block Island is not a good place to learn. Many vacations end abruptly with a trip to the medical center or a lifestar flight to a mainland hospital.
Enjoy the Nature
Block Island rental cars and Jeeps are available next to the town dock in old harbor. You may also rent from new harbor at the boat basin.
This is a nice alternative for getting around if you cannot get a car reservation on the ferry or if you are coming for a day or two.
Driving on Block Island
The island is experiencing an escalating challenge with traffic and parking. Everyone seems to have a car bring a car or multiple cars. This creates mainland-like traffic, making getting around a headache as well as a safety issue. The roads are narrow and must be shared by drivers, mopeds, bikes and pedestrians.
What about Walking?
It is entirely possible to vacation on this island without a car. If you find lodging
close to town, you may easily walk to the restaurants, shops and beaches.