Ballard’s Beach is backstopped by a restaurant with the same name. This deep-sand beach is located on the south side of the Old Harbor breakwater. Drinks and food are served by beachcombing waitstaff. Frequent live music at the restaurant is one draw for beachgoers. It is also an excellent setup for a deep-water swim. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer.
Black Rock is named after a large, dark rock hidden under 10 feet of water; the sinister rock has been the demise of many ships. You’ll want to hike or bike into this area. There are a couple of beaches at the base of the bluffs, separated by sections covered in beach stones. While these beaches are not the best, the stunning scenery makes Black Rock a favorite. You will find the beach at the endpoint of a few trails through Rodman’s Hollow (see center map). Use caution when swimming; the surf can be very rough here.
Charleston Beach is a sandy, peaceful beach that is popular with fishermen. The beach is quite large, and the waters are tranquil. Beachgoers will find plenty of solitude. The jetty is an interesting walk. From here, you can watch boats entering New Harbor and get a look at the Coast Guard Station (where you’ll find parking). It is a good beach to find collectible driftwood. Walk southward and you will reach Grace’s Cove.
Dorry’s Cove is a black-sand beach. It is small and generally uncrowded, with nice sunset views of Long Island. The waters are usually calm and access is easy, making this an excellent beach for swimming and snorkeling, and for picnics! Hike northward and you will approach a second cove, Grace’s Cove. Lots of interesting stones and driftwood here. The kids will enjoy this! Limited parking at the end of Dorry’s Cove Road, a dirt road off West Side Road. Good bike destination.
Fred Benson Town Beach has Block Island’s only fully equipped bathhouse and pavilion. It’s owned and operated by the town and staffed with lifeguards. Public restrooms, changing areas, hot showers. Rental items such as chairs, umbrellas, and boogie boards. Hot food, cold drinks. No admission fee. Free parking. Open weekends beginning Memorial Day; daily mid-June to Labor Day; weekends ‘til Sept. 7. Corn Neck Road. 401/466-7717.
Baby Beach is a well-sheltered beachfront at the south end of Crescent Beach. Here, kids can play in shallow waters, catch small crabs, find mussels, wrestle with seaweed, maybe even find a sand dollar. Adults can wade out for a peaceful swim while the kids play in the sand. This is the closest beach to town, which may be the primary reason so many adults bring their little ones here. It’s also an easy walk from the ferry docks.
Mansion Beach is at the end of a dirt road by the same name. The island’s biggest home once sat here like a jewel high above the beach and nearby Jerry’s Point. Fire destroyed the mansion, but the beach lives up to the name—by being B.I.’s grandest! There is parking, but the spaces can fill up on busy weekends.
Scotch Beach is a quarter-mile north of Fred Benson Town Beach. It’s at the center of the larger Crescent Beach, which comprises the island’s eastern beachfront stretching from town to Jerry’s Point. There is a small parking lot off Corn Neck Road, but you can park along the road, north of Town Beach and hike marked trails over the dunes. Bring a cooler, an umbrella, and chairs, and dig in for the day. It’s a nice walk to Mansion Beach.
Vail Beach in summer can be either rocky or deep in fine sand, depending on changes wrought by winter storms. A steep, slippery trail to the beach is accessible at the first bend of Snake Hole Road, off Lakeside Drive. Limited parking. At the bottom of the trail, proceed east for 50 yards, over rocky beachfront; the beach is around the first point. The surf can be heavy here, and there are rocks in the shallows.
West Beach presents a truly different experience. The beach here is lightly trafficked, has a calm surf, and offers perhaps the island’s best beach walk. To the south is Beane Point; this area is part of a bird sanctuary (no dogs allowed). To the north, dunes lead to the North Light (watch out for nesting gulls). There is limited parking at the end of West Beach Road, past the Transfer Station.