The town of New Shoreham, Rhode Island, lies 13 miles out at sea, south of Narragansett (RI) and northeast of Montauk (NY). The least-populous municipality in the state boasts a thriving community like no other with nearly 40 percent of the land preserved for conservation. We skipped the Halloween Parade and mischief of New York City this year, to get spooky elsewhere with a one-night escape to the Bermuda of the North, Block Island.
Block Island is just as ideal a New England oasis for seasonal visitors, as it is for a year round community of roughly 1,000 residents. With a diverse history rooted deeply in fishing, farming, sailing and tourism, Block represents a progressive 21st century island that will perpetually celebrate its past.
We’ve visited Block since we were kids, but hadn’t been in a few years, so we figured why not mix-up the routine Halloween debauchery by exploring a quiet island town on the spookiest of weekends! We took ourselves and our car on the traditional ferry out of Pt. Judith (RI). During the summer months, you can take an Amtrak or a Metro-North/Shoreline East combo directly to a high-speed (express) ferry which leaves from right behind the train station in New London, CT (note that this is walk-on only, so if bringing a car you must venture to Pt. Judith; alternatively there is a less frequent high-speed ferry that departs from Montauk).
Rather last minute we booked a suite at The Darius Inn, conveniently located just a two minute walk up the road from the Old Harbor on Dodge Street (directly next door to the Island Free Library). Two sister opened the inn in 2013 which includes all necessary amenities plus a fantastic bohemian charm. The rooms were decorated with global art pieces, funky patterned fabrics on all the pillows, sheets and curtains, plus each night’s stay included an evening happy hour and a full hearty breakfast every morning. The owners even left us a treat on our doorstep; a copy of the book Ghosts of Block Island, which perfectly set the mood for the night ahead. We ended their season (along with a few other tenants) by being the last night’s occupants before closing for the winter. Despite it being their last night, their gracious hospitality will keep us coming back for years to come.
Once checked in, we were off for a day of blue skies, warm weather, and a Spotify playlist full of appropriately queued sea shanties. With a picnic fresh from the island’s main grocery, we took off for the North Light. We set up shop on the far side of the North Light, taking in the incredibly sunny weather by skipping stones and wading in the waves. After that we went for a leisurely hike through the Clay Head Preserve on the northeast side of the island. On a trail running along the ocean cliffs, we spotted a shipwrecked motorboat, and a pod of four seals sunbathing on a rock down below! After nearly getting lost in “The Maze” (another name for the preserve), we headed south to catch sunset out in front of the old Coast Guard Station at the mouth of the Great Salt Pond. Over a celebratory toast, we read a story from our new book about Norman the cook, whose spirit still haunts the Coast Guard Station property to this day!
After an awesome happy hour at the inn, plus a few quick lobster rolls and chowder at the Old Island Pub, we slipped into our Wes Anderson themed outfits and headed to Block’s highlight event for the evening: Yellow Kitten Tavern’s Halloween Costume Party! With over a hundred people dressed to the nines (including Pizza Rat) plus an unstoppable DJ (reminiscent to that of The Pequot House… R.I.P.), the wickedly themed bash quickly became a Halloween tradition we’d love to revisit.
With sand in our hair and full from a delectable breakfast, we kicked off the morning with a visit down to the Southeast Light then a pop over to the Mohegan Bluffs. The southern end of the island is truly exposed to the sea, and is at mercy to the elements; enough so that they had to physically move the lighthouse back 300 feet from the cliffs in the early 1990s! Falling into the wind off the bluffs was the icing on our Halloweekend cake. After a quick drive out to Rodman’s Hollow, we made it back to Old Harbor just in time for the ferry, homeward bound. So if you’re ever in the mood to get out of the city and get a little more “off-the-grid” for All Hallows’ Eve, we’d highly recommend checking-in for a full-fledged funky fest on the amazing Island of Block.