From the Author: Our family has been taking week-long vacations on Block Island for 5+ years. We love this island and know it well. If you have any questions, we respond quickly to comments!
Although Block Island is small (9.73 sq miles to be exact), it’s filled with 17 miles of some of the most beautiful beaches in New England.
For years my family and I have been spending a week on Block Island each summer. I fall in love with it more and more each time we go.
One of the best things about Block Island is its beaches. No matter what you’re looking for, I promise there is a beach for you.
Before I break things down, I want to share some general information that applies to all Block Island beaches:
- There are no fees to enter any beach
- All beach parking is free
- Block Island and its beaches are extremely dog friendly, so long as they are on a leash.
- Sleeping overnight is not allowed on the beaches
- Beach fires are prohibited without a permit (available at the New Shoreham police department)
NOTICE // We try our best to keep the information in this guide as up to date as possible. If you notice anything has changed, please leave us comment down below.
1. Mansion Beach: HIDDEN GEM
Mansion Beach is my family’s go-to spot when we want a solid beach day on Block Island. It also happens to be my personal favorite.
Mansion Beach has it all – white soft sand, clear blue waters, and big waves.
From the moment you turn down Mansion Road you feel like you’ve escaped the normal hustle and bustle that takes place downtown.
Add this beach to your itinerary and I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Drive north down Corn Neck Road, drive approx. 3 miles and look for a dirt road on the right with a small wooden sign that says “Mansion Beach.”
Follow the dirt road until the end, where you will find a parking lot. Note: there are additional spots down the hill heading towards the beach.
This beach was previously home to an actual mansion built by a famous interior designer, Edward F. Seales.
The mansion was formally named White Hall, but was called Mansion House and Mansion Beach by the locals. They felt the mansion took away from the island’s natural beauty.
The mansion was destroyed by a fire in the 1960’s and never rebuilt. Remnants of the property remains today which can be seen in the parking lot.
2. Fred Benson Town Beach: BEST FAMILY BEACH
Fred Benson Town Beach (aka “Town Beach”) hits all the marks for a family looking for the perfect beach day.
With amenities like restrooms, showers ($), changing rooms, a concession stand, and beach equipment rentals, there isn’t much more you could ask for.
Town Beach has low surf and beautiful sand which makes it easier for the kids to enjoy all aspects of their day.
Alcohol isn’t allowed on this beach. However, if you walk down the beach to the left, after about 50 yards, you will see a red post in the sand.
When you get to this point Town Beach turns into Scotch Beach and this rule is no longer applies.
From Old Harbor, take a right on Corn Neck Road. The beach parking lot will be on your right in less than a mile.
During the summer months they play a movie every Tuesday night at the beach. It’s a free, family friendly event. Don’t forget to pack a beach chair and a blanket!
3. Surf Beach: BEST SNORKELING
Surf Beach is only a three minute walk from the ferry ticket office, which makes it ideal for people who come to Block Island without a vehicle.
This spot is perfect to throw on snorkel gear and check out some sea-life. The water level remains relatively low, which makes it family friendly as well.
The Block Island Beach House is directly in front of this beach.
Take a right out of the ferry landing parking lot onto Water Street. Water Street turns into Dodge Street right after you pass The National Hotel on the corner.
Once on Dodge Street you will see a hotel immediately on your right, “Block Island Beach House”.
The beach can be accessed through the hotel OR you can pass the hotel and take a right down the path in front of the Beachcomber Gift shop.
The original structure of Block Island Beach House was built back in the 1800’s.
At that time it was built as a large home that was owned by the island’s doctor, Thomas H. Mann. The home was known as “Surf Cottage.”
When Dr. Mann eventually moved off island, the Surf Cottage was purchased and named Surf Hotel to honor his legacy.
People say that he moved off island because he “cured all the sick Block Islanders” and had no more work to do.
Lark Hotels purchased the building in 2019 and changed the name to Block Island Beach House.
4. Ballard’s Beach: BEST PARTY BEACH
Every year when I arrive on Block Island, I always head straight to Ballard’s Beach.
Nothing makes you feel like you’re on island time more than a frozen Piña colada at a tiki bar!
This beach has several of these tiki bars. They serve delicious cocktails, beer, and wine.
As you might imagine, there’s a party vibe at Ballards. So if you’re looking to enjoy a book, with nothing but crashing waves in the background, I wouldn’t make this beach your first choice.
During the summer months, Ballards has daily live music performing next to their oceanfront restaurant and inn.
They also have beach chairs, umbrellas, and cabanas for rent.
Take a left out of the ferry parking lot and follow Water Street to the end. In a short 2-minute walk you will arrive at Ballard’s Beach Resort.
You enter the beach through Ballard’s restaurant or a path on the right side of the building.
You can book your wedding ceremony on Ballard’s Beach. I had the chance to catch a wedding there during a visit in 2018!
5. Mohegan Bluffs: BEST VIEW
Mohegan Bluffs is one of the most photographed beaches in Block Island, which comes as no surprise to anyone who has been there to experience the views in person.
This secluded beach is surrounded by 200 foot clay cliffs.
It’s important to note that the parking lot is at the TOP of the cliff so it’s a little bit of a journey to get down to the beach – 141 steps to be exact.
While the staircase is in good condition, and there are railings on both sides, right before you hit the beach you will come to a point where the stairs stop and there is still a small hill before you reach the base.
Keep your eye out for a rope on the ground that helps you safely maneuver this last part of the journey.
Another caution to note is the rocky nature of the beach.
Take a left out of the ferry parking lot and when you hit the roundabout take the second right on Spring Street.
Follow this road for a little under 2 miles. You will see the beach parking lot on your left shortly after the South East Lighthouse.
The beach is named after a Native American battle that took place between the Mohegan and Manissean Tribes.
During the battle, 40 members of the Mohegan Tribe were driven off the cliffs which led to the Island Natives, the Manisseans, taking victory.
6. Black Rock: BEST ADVENTURE
Black Rock beach is known for its surf. It’s highly secluded, which is probably why so few people visit this beach.
And probably a reason why there is a “clothing-optional vibe”.
If you’re up for an adventure, this is the beach for you!
Below I share how to get there by using Vaill Beach’s parking lot.
Another great option would be to hike Rodman Hollow and access the beach at the end of the trail.
Rocky beach. Non-traditional access point to the beach – proceed with caution.
Take a left out of the ferry parking lot and when you hit the roundabout take the second right on Spring Street.
Follow this road for a little under 3 miles (Spring Street will turn into Mohegan Trail). When you come to The Painted Rock take a left at Snake Hole Road.
The “parking lot” is at the first major bend in the road; it’s more like a wider version of the small dirt road.
You’ll know you are at the right place if you see a small path leading off the road towards the water.
You have two options at this point. One is to walk down the small path leading off the road towards the water.
Once you are on the beach walk right until you reach Black Rock (roughly a mile).
Another option: once you park at Vaill Beach, continue to follow the private dirt road (accessible by foot or bicycle) and enter the beach at the access point at the end (circled on the left in Map 1 and on the right in Map 2).
Below is a google maps image that shows how the end of Rodman Hollow trail (left circle) can link up with Black Rock access point (right circle) if you choose to hit the beach after your hike.
Try to catch a sunset while at this beach. The sunset views over the cliffs are hard to beat.
7. Grace’s Cove: BEST SUNSETS
This secluded beach is on the west side of the island, which provides a perfect view of the sunset over the ocean horizon.
Since it’s located furthest from town, you can usually expect to find the beach blissfully quiet.
You may find a couple sitting on a driftwood log, a few people walking the rocky beach, and occasionally a group of people surrounding a beach fire.
From New Harbor, take a right on West Side Road and follow for a little over a mile. Take a sharp right on Grace Cove Road (if you pass Block Island Cakes you have gone too far).
Once on Grace Cove Road, follow the road until the end.
This is one of the beaches you might want to trade out your flip flops for sturdier shoes. You can’t avoid the rocks at Grace’s Cove.
8. Charlestown Beach: BEST FISHING
Charlestown Beach is also on the west side of the island, so you can usually bet on a great sunset. Probably one of the reasons this beach is a very popular spot to get engaged!
Charlestown Beach is known for solid fishing on the Island due to the fish quantity and overall fish size. People commonly catch stripers and have reported huge blitzes.
Lastly, Charlestown Beach is located right next to the entrance to New Harbor. This makes for a great location to watch boats sail in and out throughout the day.
From New Harbor, take a right on West Side Road and follow for .5 mile. When the road forks, stay right – you are now Champlin Road.
Follow this road for a mile and you will have arrived at Charlestown Beach. There are a few access points off of Champlin Road.
Note: The first access point has no parking so this entrance is only ideal for people who arrive by foot or bike.
The last access point has parking but there are very few spaces so don’t plan to caravan down to this location.
Cell service is hard to come by on or near this beach.
9. Great Salt Pond via Andy’s Way: BEST SEALIFE
Great Salt Pond is what’s known as “New Harbor” and it’s located on the western shore of Block Island. This pond makes up 3 marinas, almost 100 moorings, and a large anchorage for vessels.
In addition to the boating recreation aspect of this pond, it’s home to a diverse ecosystem.
There are plenty of fish, crabs, clams, and even a number of tropical species; this is why I’ve added it to my list!
My favorite way to access Great Salt Pond for an afternoon full of sealife exploration is via Andy’s Way.
This access point brings you to a crescent of sandy beach (often lined with kayaks).
The Committee for Great Salt Pond has kept this ecosystem healthy by consistently advocating for appropriate environmental protection over the years.
If you decide to go clamming, make sure you stop at the Harbormaster shack in New Harbor to get your clamming license.
Take a right out of the ferry parking lot and follow the road until you come to a four way stop. Take a right onto Corn Neck Road.
Follow Corn Neck Road for approximately 2 miles. Andy’s Way is a dirt road marked by a small white street sign on the left side of the road (on a major curve). Follow to the end of the road.
The pathway from the parking lot to the beach area is quite narrow. If you are bringing a beach wagon or cooler with wheels be forewarned that you might be using some extra muscle to make this happen.
10. Vaill Beach: MOST SECLUDED BEACH
Similar to Black Rock, Vaill Beach is a great spot for surfing!
What makes this beach a little bit more enticing compared to Black Rock is that it’s a little bit easier to access all while you still get the great waves, extreme privacy, and killer sunsets.
Rough surf. Rocky beach. Non-traditional access point – proceed with caution.
See directions listed under Black Rock.
There are three long stairways from private homes that go down to this beach. The people tend to treat this spot as their own private beach.
If you are in the vicinity of these staircases don’t be surprised to have someone say something to you if you aren’t following the rules.
Since the water condition is so rough, the beach area is ever changing. During one visit the beach will be all rocks and large boulders and a few weeks later there will be huge patches of deep soft sand.
For a small island, Block Island is PACKED with some of the best beaches in New England.
I hope this post helped you pick the best beach for you and your family. And remember, a visit to Block Island without going to the beach, isn’t a visit to Block Island. 🙂
Leave me a comment below and let me know which beach is your favorite!