Feature

10 (Other) Reasons to Love Block Island

You know about the beaches and mopeds and the insanely catchy ferry song, but what about the rest?

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1. Getting there is part of the fun
The Block Island ferry now offers high-speed service out of Pt. Judith, Newport and Fall River. While the swankier digs of the high-speed ferry are nice, I’m just as happy on the slow boat. If I’m heading to the island, I’m not in a hurry to be anywhere – and with a bar on board and lots of friendly day and weekend trippers eager to make new friends along the way, why rush? www.blockislandferry.com

2. You can beat the crowds – and the budget
Head to the island at peak times (Fourth of July, anyone?) and you’re likely to cram onto a packed ferry and pay top rates for your hotel room. But book your stay in the shoulder season – like early June or after Labor Day – or even mid-week during the height of summer, and you’ll not only pay less for your accommodations, but find smaller crowds everywhere. www.blockislandreservations.com

3. The off-season is fun, too
While it would be charitable to call Block Island “quiet” in the depths of winter, it’s still worth the trip well into fall. This year’s second installment of Taste of Block Island, where you get shopping discounts and food samples for a mere $5, happens from September 26-28. Then, on the weekend of Black Friday (November 28-30), the Christmas Shopping Stroll offers special sales at more than 30 one-of-a-kind shops. www.blockislandchamber.com

4. The music is free
Whether you're drinking out of a pineapple while dancing to a cover band at Ballard's, taking a week off from work to enjoy the Block Island Music Festival at Captain Nick's Rock n Roll Bar (sadly, you already missed this one back in June), celebrating Jamaican Independence Day (August 6) at Poor People’s Pub, listening to Blues on the Block at Fred Benson Town Beach (also August 6), jamming to the local music of ConserFest (August 9 and 10) or bringing a lawn chair along to the Summer Concert Series at St. Andrews Parish Center (August 6 and 20, September 3), you won’t need to pay a cover. www.captainnicksbi.com, www.pppbi.com, www.conserfest.org

5. You can study all sorts of nature…
The Block Island Maritime Institute will get you up close and personal with sea life. The Nature Conservancy and the Block Island Conservancy will introduce you to the island's rare and endangered species.And the Abrams Animal Farm will put you face-to-face with camels, llamas, sheep, goats and emus – and a zeedonk (you heard me). www.bimaritime.com, www.biconservancy.org, www.blockislandguide.com

6. ...Or just stroll through it
The national nonprofit The Nature Conservancy has named Block Island one of its “Last Great Places,” and indeed, over 40% of the island is set aside for conservation efforts. That means nearly 30 miles of unspoiled hiking trails for you to explore via the Greenway network, plus plenty of out-of-the-way, unspoiled beaches that will draw you away from the crowds and back to nature. www.nature.org

7. Getting caught in a mudslide is fun here
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred I’d sooner be caught drinking straight grain alcohol than some collection of sugary booze, ice and dessert condiments masquerading as a cocktail. That hundredth time is the one where I’m sitting on the deck at Yellow Kittens midday (after an early morning beach trip, of course) and drinking a frozen mudslide out of a plastic cup straight from the slushy machine. Then there’s nothing in the world I want more. Find Yellow Kittens on Facebook.

8. You can take an expertly guided tour all by yourself
Everybody knows that bicycling and Block Island were made for each other, but how do you know what to see while you’re out pedaling around? A new Block Island bicycle video tour available online will guide you through nine can’t-miss stops on a 7.5-mile loop. Narrated by Jessica Willi, the Executive Director of the Block Island Tourism Council and a lifelong resident, it will spin you around all the local favorites. www.so-new.org/tour/block-island-bicycle-tour

9. It has its own ghost story
The Palatine, a passenger ship sailing to Philadelphia from Germany in 1738, was beset by disaster throughout its journey – violent storms, tainted water, depleted provisions and the deaths of about half the crew – until it ran onto the rocks off Block Island’s shore and supposedly burst into flames. An 1867 narrative poem published in the Atlantic Monthly told a more sinister tale of islanders luring the ship aground to loot its stores, but either way the legend holds that you can still sometimes see the specter of its ghostly sails blazing off the island’s Sandy Point.

10. Hebe, not Rebecca, has the last laugh
The famed Statue of Rebecca was erected in 1896 by the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement as a monument to teetotalling. Of course, five minutes on the island is all the evidence you need that the message never got through. Perhaps that’s because a closer inspection of the statue reveals a bit of a mix-up: instead of the biblical figure Rebecca at the Well, it’s actually a carving of Hebe, cupbearer to the notoriously libertine Greek gods.