Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fire Island Lighthouse and seashore vacation

Lighthouses are popular summer travel destinations because they offer something for the whole family. Our  family interest in lighthouses began when my daughters were young. The first light that we visited was the
Fire Island Lighthouse on Captreee Island, New York. This is a barrier island that is just off of the coast of New York.

It has been operated by the (now dissolved) U.S. Lighthouse Service and then the U.S. Coast Guard. It was later declared to be inside the boundaries of the Fire Island National Seashore.

About a year before we visited in 1997, the care and upkeep of the lighthouse was transferred to the Fire Island Preservation Society through an agreement with the National Parks Service.

Did you know that the light is still listed as a privately maintained beacon on navigational maps?
This partnership between the preservation society and park service ensures that the lighthouse stays listed.

Lighthouses made our list of travel destinations because each one offers activities that we could all enjoy. Tightly packed commercial buildings aren't a national seashore feature. National beaches are not only pristine but natural. Rangers often lead programs about wildlife and how the weather affects the seashore and its wildlife. Programs can be aimed at kids or adults.

History is inescapable when you visit a lighthouse. The past has always interested me. Building tours give you a glimpse into the life of a lighthouse keeper. Can you imagine being sure the lamps were lighted in the face of a hurricane? Or living on a remote island as the wife or child of a lighthouse keeper?

Technical aspects always interest Hubby. The largest lens that was used in U.S. lighthouses is the First Order Fresnel Lens. It has a similar shape to a light bulb but is made up of rows of prisms instead of one single piece of glass. A First Order Fresnel Lens is between 7-8' tall. The prisms reflect and bend the light so that the beam is visible miles away from the coastline.

In addition to the ranger programs, my daughters enjoyed playing in the sand and climbing the giant anchor. I checked and parking for the Fire Island Lighthouse is still available next door at the Robert Moses State Park.

Several small communities are within the boundaries of the national seashore. You can pick up a meal, snacks or do some shopping. You should read the National Park Service website for Fire Island before you arrive. It has directions, covers things to do and has information on parking charges and other information  that you need.

Have you been to Fire Island or to a national seashore? Would you recommend it to others? Leave a comment in the section below.

Other articles:
Top five national parks that I've visited
Should I rent a car for a summer vacation road trip
How to pick a budget vacation destination