Block Island, also known as Manisses is located 13 miles south of the Rhode Island coast. Mostly known for its beautiful green hills and dramatic cliffs the area is often compared to the Irish landscapes. Most visitors come for the most popular tourist attractions in Block Island, the beaches. The outdoors and an active lifestyle are important here and the town of New Shoreham is the favourite vacation base for exploring.
10. Kayaking and Canoeing
It is great fun for the whole family and a brilliant way to get out on the water and explore the pond and beyond. Kayaks can be rented to explore on your own, by the hour, by half or full day starting from $23 for a single boat and $33 for a tandem. Tours are available for groups, friends, families and kids and are perfect for beginners and to get an insight from the guides about the plants and wildlife in and around the water. Special full moon tours are particularly romantic to watch the moon rise over the calm quiet waters.
9. Jesse Edwards Studios
This established gallery specialises in American contemporary art, paintings, paper, wood works and ceramics, now being in its now in its 17th season. Exhibitions are featured mostly during the summer as well as artist receptions and demonstrations. Some featured artists include Ben Anderson, Helen Frank, Kate Knapp and William Sommerfeld to name a few. The gallery is located on the second floor of the Post Office building overlooking the old harbour and is open from early May until December. During the other months the studio is open by appointment only.
8. Great Salt Pond
Great Salt Pond is a large body of water separating the north and south parts of the island. There is a lovely sheltered harbour, which is great for boating and fishing enthusiasts. Visitors can watch a range of boats pass by, and enjoy dining at the many restaurants with water views. The pond is also a good place to bike and hike along the trails. Whilst walking there’s the opportunity to see many sea birds, seals and lots of scenic views, which photographers will love. Where to walk will depend on the tide and it is best to check the tide charts before visiting.
7. Unique local shopping
There are so many unique and speciality shops to suit all shopper’s tastes. In New Shoreham visitors won’t find the usual brand names. They will find shops such as, Lazy Fish which is a store that has a collection of eclectic gift items, Star Department store for clothing and more, Gold diggers jewellery shop for new and unique jewellery options and Strings and Things a cool store with lots of souvenirs and trinkets to choose from. Among the shops there are plenty of restaurants or cafes to stop at for lunch or a coffee.
6. Clayhead Nature trail
Located on the eastern seaboard the conservation area is one of the best places to visit in Block Island to see migrating songbirds in North America who come to feed on the fruit bearing shrubs. The nature trail passes the Clay Head Swamp and the Little Field Farm, up onto the beach and into the intertwining trails known as the maze. There are signs and markers that make it easier to follow the trail. Highlights to look out for throughout the trail are the endangered yellow-crowned night heron, the northern harrier and the barn owl.
5. Block Island Historical Society Museum
This place is an extensive collection of historical exhibits and artefacts, which builds a picture of Block Island history. Spread out over three floors exhibits take visitors through the years from the early Native Americans to the Victorian era. During the summer opening hours are 11am to 4pm daily and in spring and fall it opens on the weekend from 12-4pm. Admission costs $6 per adults and children under 12 enter for free. Special tours are also available both inside the museum and around the area, especially good to visit on a rainy day.
4. Mansion Beach
Found off Corn Neck Road, the long sandy beach is great for walking and enjoying the scenery. Admission to all beaches and parking there is free. The sand is soft and kids enjoy making sandcastles, flying kites and playing. Swimming can be really good however the surf can change and there are no lifeguards so it is advised to be careful when in the sea. Low tide is the best time to visit. Most people decide to walk and ride bicycles or mopeds to get to the beaches here as it is very easy to get around.
3. Manisses Animal Farm
Abrams animal farm and petting zoo is a cute place for children to see and feed an array of animals. It is a small farm maintained by Justin Abrams who owns the hotel and Inn next door, located on Spring Street. The animals here include llamas, emus, camels, donkeys, sheep, goats and ducks and swans. The collection of animals is always growing and they all live happily together on a meadow. There is no admission fee, however visitors can buy a bag of feed for a dollar to feed the animals. Opening hours are from dawn until dusk.
2. Southeast Lighthouse
On the southeastern corner the south lighthouse can be found above the Mohegan Bluffs. First lit in 1875, the brick built lighthouse was a new design for its time. Standing 67 feet tall, the tower is connected to the keeper’s house. It is no longer a working lighthouse but today a museum and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum and gift shop are free to visit at the base of the lighthouse, however a tour of the tower costs $10 for adults and $5 for children. The tour is worth it for the history lesson from the guides.
1. Mohegan Bluffs and beach
The cliffs are a memorable sight standing 150 feet tall over the ocean. Over the years the clay cliffs have eroded so much that the Southeast Lighthouse above had to be moved back. Both from above and below the stunning views are favourites with nature lovers and photographers. Looking out for miles across the Atlantic or climb down over 100 steps to look up from the beach. Visiting times are between half an hour before sunrise and half an hour after sunset. The beach is friendly for swimming, relaxing and even dog walking.
Block Island is easier to get to than people may think. There are high-speed ferries that can take just 30 minutes from Point Judith Rhode Island. Daily flights are scheduled by New England Airlines from Westerly where the flight times are only 12 minutes and parking at Westerly is free. Most things to do in Block Island are best to do in the summer months so this is when it is recommended to visit.