block island

Want to discover the best things to do on Block Island?

Nestled in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of Rhode Island, Block Island is a serene paradise that offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Known for its breathtaking landscapes, stunning cliffs, and pristine beaches, this small island is rich in natural beauty and charm.

With an area of just under 10 square miles, it packs a surprising amount of activities and sights that attract visitors from all over.

Block Island’s history is as captivating as its scenery.

Originally settled by the Niantic Indians, the island was first discovered by European explorers in the early 16th century.

It was named after the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block who sailed through the area in 1614.

Throughout the centuries, Block Island has been a haven for fishermen, artists, and vacationers alike, all drawn by its isolated beauty and tranquil environment.

For those wondering about the best things to do on Block Island, the island offers an array of activities ranging from relaxing on sandy beaches to exploring historical landmarks and engaging in vibrant water sports.

Each corner of the island holds new adventures, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the 10 best things to do on Block Islands:

1. Visit the Iconic Block Island Lighthouses

Block Island Lighthouses

When exploring the best things to do on Block Island, visiting its historic lighthouses is a must.

These beacons have not only guided mariners for centuries but also offer visitors a glimpse into the island’s rich maritime history.

Southeast Lighthouse

Perched atop the stunning Mohegan Bluffs, the Southeast Lighthouse is a marvel of architectural beauty and historical significance.

Built in 1875, this majestic structure is renowned for its Victorian design and is listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Visitors can tour the lighthouse and climb to the top for a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean.

The best times to capture its grandeur are during the early morning or late afternoon when the light casts dramatic shadows and enhances its red-brick facade.

North Light

At the northern tip of the island stands the North Light, constructed in 1867.

This lighthouse is unique for its utilitarian design and strategic location on one of the island’s most remote areas.

It’s been restored and now houses a small museum detailing the history of Block Island’s maritime and the ecological significance of the surrounding area.

The area around North Light is particularly scenic, making it a fantastic spot for photography, especially during sunset when the light bathes the building in golden hues.

Photography and Visit Tips

Visiting these lighthouses offers more than just a historical tour; it’s a photographer’s delight.

For the best photography experience, consider visiting during the golden hours—just after sunrise or before sunset—when the soft light enhances the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Remember to check the opening hours and any tour availability before visiting, as the lighthouses have seasonal operating hours.

Additionally, wear comfortable walking shoes as the areas around the lighthouses can be rocky and uneven.

2. Hiking and Nature Trails

Block Island hiking

Exploring the natural beauty of Block Island is one of the top things to do on Block Island, especially for those who love the outdoors.

The island offers a range of hiking trails that provide not only physical challenge but also access to some of the most breathtaking scenery and wildlife habitats in the area.

Mohegan Bluffs

One of the most spectacular trails leads to the Mohegan Bluffs, where sheer cliffs drop over 150 feet into the ocean below.

A set of wooden stairs takes visitors down to the beach, offering a close-up view of the powerful waves and the stunning cliffside.

The hike itself is moderate in difficulty, but the views are rewarding, showcasing vast expanses of the Atlantic Ocean and the rugged coastline.

This area is perfect for photography, bird watching, and simply soaking in the natural beauty of the island.

Rodman’s Hollow

Rodman’s Hollow is another must-visit trail, known as a glacial outwash basin and now a protected area of natural beauty.

This area features a variety of habitats, including shrubland, forest, and meadows, each supporting different species of wildlife and plants.

The trail through Rodman’s Hollow is relatively easy, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

It’s a fantastic spot for observing native flora and fauna, including rare birds and possibly even deer.

Flora and Fauna

Block Island is home to several unique species of plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

The trails often pass through habitats that are teeming with wildlife, including migratory songbirds, which use the island as a resting point during their long journeys across the ocean.

The diverse plant life includes wildflowers, shrubs, and various grasses that contribute to the island’s unique ecosystem.

Preparation Tips

Before heading out on any hiking trails, it’s essential to be well-prepared. Wear sturdy footwear as the trails can be rocky and uneven.

Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat to protect against the sun, especially in the summer months.

It’s also wise to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly to avoid being caught in bad weather.

Lastly, always stay on marked trails to protect the natural habitat and ensure your own safety.

3. Block Island Farmer’s Market

Block Island Farmer's Market

A visit to the Block Island Farmer’s Market is undoubtedly one of the most delightful things to do on Block Island for those who appreciate fresh, local produce and handcrafted goods.

Operating during the summer and early fall, this market encapsulates the community spirit and the island’s dedication to sustainability and local farming.

Experience the Local Flavor

Located at Legion Park, the Farmer’s Market is a vibrant gathering place where locals and visitors alike come to sample and purchase the freshest island produce, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

It’s not just about the produce; the market also offers an array of locally produced honey, jams, bread, and pastries, ensuring there’s something to tempt every palate.

Artisan Goods

Beyond the edible products, the market is a treasure trove of local artisan crafts.

Here, you can find everything from handmade jewelry and ceramics to custom paintings and photography inspired by the island’s scenic landscapes.

These items make perfect souvenirs or gifts that carry the essence of Block Island.

Community and Culture

The Farmer’s Market is not only a place to shop but also a venue to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Often, the market features live music from local musicians, creating a festive atmosphere that encourages lingering and enjoyment.

It’s a place where you can chat with artisans and farmers, learning about their crafts and the stories behind their products.

Tips for Visitors

The Farmer’s Market is typically open twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from morning until mid-afternoon. To get the best selection, it’s advisable to arrive early.

Remember to bring a reusable bag to carry all your finds. It’s also a cash-friendly event, so having small bills can make transactions smoother.

4. Water Sports and Activities

Block Island Kayaking

For adventure seekers looking at things to do on Block Island, engaging in water sports provides an exhilarating way to experience the island’s stunning waterscapes.

From kayaking and paddleboarding to sailing, Block Island offers ample opportunities to dive into the clear blue waters of the Atlantic.


Kayaking around Block Island gives you a fantastic vantage point to explore its secluded coves and quiet inlets.

One of the best places for kayaking is the Great Salt Pond, a serene and protected body of water ideal for beginners and those who prefer calm waters.

Rental kayaks are available at several outfitters around the island, and many offer guided tours that can take you to hidden spots and provide insights about the local marine environment.


Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is another popular water activity on Block Island that caters to all skill levels.

New Harbor is a favorite spot for paddleboarding, offering beautiful views and sheltered waters that are perfect for paddling.

SUP rentals and lessons are widely available through waterfront service providers, who ensure you have all the equipment and instruction needed for a safe and enjoyable experience.


Sailing is a quintessential Block Island activity, allowing visitors to feel the breeze and admire the coastline from a different perspective.

Whether you are an experienced sailor or a novice eager to learn, you can find charter companies offering rentals and lessons.

The island’s harbors are bustling with sailboats of all sizes, and joining a sailing tour can be a particularly memorable way to see the sunset or even spot some marine wildlife.

Rental Information

Most water sports rentals are available from late spring through early fall, which is the best time to enjoy these activities due to favorable weather conditions.

It’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak tourist season, to ensure availability.

Rental shops typically offer hourly or daily rates, and many provide all necessary safety equipment and brief orientations.

5. Bird Watching and Wildlife Exploration

Block Island Bird Watching

For nature enthusiasts exploring things to do on Block Island, bird watching and wildlife exploration offer a unique opportunity to connect with the island’s diverse ecosystems.

The island’s variety of habitats supports a rich array of bird species and wildlife, making it a prime spot for nature lovers.

Variety of Birds

Block Island is recognized as one of the most important avian habitats in the Northeastern United States, particularly for migratory songbirds.

Spring and fall migrations are especially spectacular when the island becomes a temporary home to hundreds of species including warblers, vireos, and flycatchers.

Permanent residents such as the Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, and various waterfowl can also be observed year-round.

Best Spots for Bird Watching

One of the best places for bird watching is the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, which covers 127 acres and is particularly favored during the migration periods.

The refuge provides a protected habitat for birds and offers trails and viewing platforms for visitors.

Another notable spot is Rodman’s Hollow, a natural bowl-shaped depression that serves as a resting place for many bird species during migrations.

Wildlife Exploration

In addition to birds, Block Island is home to a variety of other wildlife, including white-tailed deer, various amphibians, and numerous butterfly species.

Exploring the island’s trails not only offers the chance to see these animals but also to enjoy some of Block Island’s most beautiful natural landscapes.

Guided Tour Options

For those interested in a more educational experience, guided bird watching tours are available.

These tours are led by local experts who provide valuable insights into the behaviors and habitats of different species.

Tours can be particularly beneficial during migration seasons when the variety of species can be overwhelming for novice bird watchers.

Preparation Tips

When planning a bird watching or wildlife exploration trip on Block Island, it’s advisable to bring binoculars and a field guide to enhance your viewing experience.

Dressing in layers and wearing comfortable walking shoes are also recommended, as weather on the island can change quickly.

6. Shopping and Dining in Old Harbor

Block Island Shopping

Old Harbor is not just a key entry point to Block Island but also a bustling hub for shopping and dining, making it a top destination for those looking for things to do on Block Island.

This charming area combines the island’s maritime heritage with a lively contemporary scene of boutiques, galleries, and eateries.

Shopping in Old Harbor

Old Harbor’s streets are lined with unique boutiques and shops that offer everything from high-end fashion to local handicrafts.

Visitors can explore local artisan shops where they’ll find handmade jewelry, pottery, and other crafts that reflect the island’s artistic spirit.

Don’t miss the souvenir shops for Block Island memorabilia like t-shirts, postcards, and handmade trinkets that serve as perfect reminders of your visit.

Dining in Old Harbor

When it comes to dining, Old Harbor offers an array of options that emphasize fresh, local ingredients.

Seafood lovers will rejoice at the chance to taste freshly caught fish, scallops, and lobster, often cooked to perfection by skilled local chefs.

For those seeking a more casual dining experience, there are numerous cafes and bistros that offer everything from traditional New England clam chowder to international cuisines.

Restaurant Recommendations

  • The Oar – Known for its vibrant atmosphere and stunning views of the Great Salt Pond, The Oar is a favorite for both its sushi and traditional American menu.
  • Eli’s – Offering a cozy setting, Eli’s features a creative menu with local ingredients and is praised for its innovative dishes.
  • Kimberly’s – Ideal for those looking for a fine dining experience, Kimberly’s provides exquisite meals with a focus on local seafood and seasonal produce.

Cultural and Culinary Events

Additionally, Old Harbor hosts various cultural and culinary events throughout the year, from food festivals to local art exhibits, which provide a deeper insight into the island’s community and traditions.

7. Biking Around the Island

block island bike riding

Biking is a popular and environmentally friendly way to explore Block Island, offering an intimate view of the island’s picturesque landscapes.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride along scenic coastal roads or a more vigorous adventure across rolling hills, biking is a fantastic thing to do on Block Island for all ages and skill levels.

Bike Rental Services

Block Island features several bike rental shops that provide a wide range of bicycles, from standard models to high-performance bikes and even electric bikes, catering to different preferences and needs. Some reputable rental services include:

  • Island Moped and Bike Rental: Located conveniently near the ferry landing, they offer a variety of bikes along with maps and helpful advice on navigating the island.
  • Block Island Bicycle Tour Company: Known for their well-maintained bicycles and friendly service, this shop also offers guided tours for those interested in learning more about the island’s history and natural features while biking.

Recommended Routes

  • The Loop: A popular 7.5-mile route that circles the island, offering stunning ocean views and passing by many major attractions, including lighthouses, beaches, and bluffs.
  • North Island Exploration: This route takes you to quieter, less-traveled paths leading to North Light and Sachem Pond, ideal for wildlife viewing and enjoying peaceful natural settings.

Scenic Spots to Check Out

  • Mohegan Bluffs: Don’t miss stopping here while on your bike tour. The breathtaking views from the top are well worth the ride.
  • Clay Head Trail: For a slight detour, park your bike and walk along this trail that offers spectacular views and a serene atmosphere.

Safety Tips

  • Always wear a helmet, regardless of how short the ride might be.
  • Carry water, especially during the summer months, to stay hydrated.
  • Be mindful of the island’s traffic rules, and always signal your intentions to drivers.
  • Check the bike’s condition before setting out, particularly brakes and tire pressure.

8. Explore the Historical Society and Museums

Block Island Historical Society Museum

Delving into the rich history of Block Island is another captivating activity for visitors.

The island’s historical sites and museums offer a glimpse into its past, from its Native American origins to its development into a beloved tourist destination.

Exploring these cultural landmarks is a must-do for history buffs and curious travelers alike.

Block Island Historical Society

Located in a classic Victorian-style home, the Block Island Historical Society Museum showcases a diverse collection of artifacts that tell the story of the island’s heritage.

Exhibits cover various aspects of local history, including the maritime industry, the island’s development, and notable residents.

Highlights include Native American artifacts, historical photographs, and memorabilia from the Victorian era.

The museum also features a gift shop where visitors can purchase books and other items related to Block Island’s history.

Other Museums and Exhibitions

  • The Manissean Ancestral Exhibit: Situated within the Historical Society Museum, this exhibit offers an in-depth look at the lives of the Manissean tribe, the island’s first inhabitants, through displays of tools, crafts, and descriptions of their daily life and culture.
  • The Lighthouse Museums: Both the Southeast Light and the North Light house small museums that provide information not only about the lighthouses themselves but also about the maritime history of the area. These are excellent spots for understanding the role of navigation and sea travel in shaping Block Island.

Seasonal Exhibitions

During the summer months, various galleries and temporary exhibitions pop up around the island, featuring both historical and contemporary art.

These exhibitions often highlight local artists and themes related to the island’s natural and cultural landscape.

Visiting Tips

To make the most out of your visit to these historical sites:

  • Check for seasonal opening hours and guided tour availability.
  • Allow enough time to thoroughly explore the exhibits, as they offer a wealth of information that can enrich your understanding of the island.
  • Consider visiting during less busy times, such as weekday mornings, to enjoy a more personal experience.

9. Fishing and Charter Tours

Block Island Fishing

Fishing is a cherished pastime on Block Island, with the surrounding waters offering abundant opportunities for both novice and experienced anglers.

Engaging in fishing and charter tours is not only a popular thing to do on Block Island, but it also allows visitors to immerse themselves in the local maritime culture.

Deep-Sea Fishing

Deep-sea fishing charters are a highlight for those seeking adventure on the open water.

These charters take you beyond the island’s shores where you can fish for larger species.

Common catches include bluefish, striped bass, and even tuna, depending on how far out you go.

Experienced captains will guide you to the best fishing spots and assist with techniques to enhance your chances of a successful catch.

Coastal Charters

For a more relaxed experience, coastal charters allow you to enjoy fishing closer to the shore. These waters are rich with flounder, scup, and black sea bass.

Coastal charters are especially suitable for families or groups who want to enjoy a day on the water without venturing too far from land.

What to Expect

  • Species: Depending on the season, you might catch striped bass, bluefish, flounder, black sea bass, or even the occasional shark.
  • Seasonality: The best time for fishing on Block Island is from late spring through early fall, with peak fishing usually occurring in June and July. During these months, the waters are teeming with fish, making it an ideal time for both deep-sea and coastal fishing.

Charter Information

Block Island offers a variety of fishing charters, with options ranging from half-day excursions to full-day adventures.

Most charters provide all necessary equipment, including rods, bait, and tackle. Here are a couple of recommended charter services:

  • Twin Maples Fishing Charters: Known for their knowledgeable crew and excellent service, Twin Maples offers tailored experiences for all types of fishing enthusiasts.
  • Block Island Fishworks: Offering both inshore and offshore fishing trips, Fishworks is a great choice for those looking to explore the diverse fishing opportunities around the island.

Preparation Tips

  • Make sure to book your charter in advance, especially during the peak season, as slots can fill up quickly.
  • Bring appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, as well as sunscreen and seasickness medication if you are prone to motion sickness.
  • Don’t forget a camera to capture the excitement of your catch and the beauty of the surrounding ocean.

10. Attend Local Festivals and Events

Block Island Music Festival

Block Island is not only famous for its natural beauty and outdoor activities but also for its vibrant local festivals and events.

Participating in these gatherings is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the island’s culture and community spirit, making it a top thing to do on Block Island.

Popular Annual Events

  • Block Island Music Festival: Held in June at Captain Nick’s Rock N’ Roll Bar, this free music festival features a mix of up-and-coming and established artists. The event spans several days and offers a great opportunity to experience a variety of music genres in a lively and casual setting.
  • Block Island Race Week: A must-see for sailing enthusiasts, this prestigious regatta takes place every other year in late June. The event includes races, on-shore entertainment, and community gatherings.
  • Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks: Celebrate Independence Day with a traditional parade through town, followed by a spectacular fireworks display at night. It’s a family-friendly event that draws crowds from all over.
  • Block Island Glass Float Project: An ongoing art event where 550 hand-blown glass floats are hidden around the island for people to find and keep. This starts annually on June 1 and runs until all floats are found.

Tips on How to Enjoy These Events Like a Local

  • Arrive Early: For any event, especially those that are well-attended like the music festival or the Fourth of July fireworks, getting there early will help you secure a good spot and avoid the crowds.
  • Participate: Don’t just observe—participate! Whether it’s dancing at the music festival, cheering during the race week, or searching for glass floats, involvement is key to enjoying these events to the fullest.
  • Support Local: Many events have stalls and vendors selling food, drinks, and merchandise. Supporting these local businesses not only helps the island’s economy but also enriches your experience.
  • Be Prepared: Weather on the island can be unpredictable. Bring appropriate clothing for the day’s weather, sunscreen for sunny days, and a light jacket for cooler evenings.
  • Stay Informed: Check the local listings or the Block Island Times for any updates or changes to the events, especially those affected by weather.


Block Island offers a treasure trove of activities that make every visit unforgettable.

From the historic charm of its iconic lighthouses at Southeast Light and North Light to the natural beauty of its hiking trails at Mohegan Bluffs and Rodman’s Hollow, there’s something to captivate every type of traveler.

Water sports enthusiasts can revel in kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing, while those with a penchant for shopping and dining can indulge in the quaint boutiques and local flavors of Old Harbor.

Bird watchers and wildlife explorers will find themselves immersed in the diverse habitats of the island, rich with unique species.

Meanwhile, avid cyclists can take advantage of the scenic routes around the island, offering breathtaking views and a refreshing way to experience its landscape.

History buffs will be drawn to the educational exhibits at the Block Island Historical Society and the seasonal exhibitions that delve deep into the island’s past.

The island’s vibrant culture is showcased through its various festivals and events, from the lively Block Island Music Festival to the traditional Fourth of July celebrations, which provide an authentic taste of local life and festivity.

Block Island is not just a place to visit; it’s a world to discover.

Beyond these ten incredible activities, the island is dotted with hidden gems waiting to be explored.

Whether it’s your first visit or your fiftieth, Block Island always has something new to offer.

things to do on block island

FAQ’s About Block Island:

What is so special about Block Island?

Block Island is special for its preserved natural beauty, striking landscapes, and small-town charm.

It features dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and a variety of wildlife, making it a sanctuary for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The island is also known for its protected conservation areas and a community deeply committed to preserving the environment and local culture.

What famous people live on Block Island?

While specific current famous residents are not widely publicized to respect privacy, Block Island is known to be a retreat for those seeking quiet and privacy, including celebrities and public figures.

Its secluded nature makes it appealing for anyone looking to escape the public eye.

Is it expensive to live on Block Island?

Yes, living on Block Island can be expensive.

The cost of living is higher than the national average, primarily due to its isolated location which increases transportation costs for goods and services.

Real estate prices are also significantly higher compared to many other areas in Rhode Island.

Can you drive a car on Block Island?

Yes, you can drive a car on Block Island, but it is not necessary for getting around due to the island’s small size.

Many visitors and residents prefer biking or walking.

There are restrictions during peak tourist seasons to reduce traffic and protect the environment.

Do you need a car to see Block Island?

No, you do not need a car to see Block Island.

The island is quite small, only about 3 by 7 miles, and is easily navigable by bike, moped, or on foot.

There are also taxis and shuttles available for those who prefer not to drive.

Do people live on Block Island full time?

Yes, people do live on Block Island full time.

While the population increases significantly during the summer months, the island has a year-round community that enjoys the quieter off-season months.

What is the average income in Block Island?

The average income in Block Island varies, but the median household income is generally higher than the national average.

This is influenced by the higher cost of living and the nature of employment opportunities, which often include higher-paying jobs in services and tourism, especially during the tourist season.

How safe is Block Island?

Block Island is considered very safe.

The crime rate is significantly lower than the national average, making it one of the safer places to visit and live in the United States.

The close-knit community and the nature of the island contribute to its overall safety.

How much does it cost to rent a house on Block Island?

Renting a house on Block Island can be quite expensive, especially during the peak summer months.

Prices vary widely depending on the size and location of the property but expect to pay premium rates for vacation rentals with ocean views or proximity to popular beaches.

Does anyone live on Block Island year-round?

Yes, there is a year-round population on Block Island.

These residents often work in industries that support the tourist economy or in local services such as education, healthcare, and community services.

Do people live on Block Island in the winter?

Yes, people live on Block Island in the winter, although the population is much smaller compared to the summer.

Those who stay year-round are part of a close community and often participate in local winter activities and traditions.

Does Block Island get crowded?

Block Island can get quite crowded during the peak tourist season in the summer months, especially on weekends and holidays.

The influx of visitors is drawn by the island’s natural beauty, beaches, and numerous outdoor activities, which can lead to crowded conditions at popular spots and events.

block island sunset

(Island Expert)

Christian is a dynamic serial entrepreneur and a licensed real estate agent with a relentless passion for unlocking the potential of island real estate. Christian's expertise extends beyond entrepreneurship and property transactions. He possesses a profound expertise in crafting captivating content and persuasive copywriting tailored exclusively to the enchanting realm of island real estate.

Thanks for your enquiry.

Check your email shortly for the ebook download link.

Download Island Buyers Guide Ebook

Please fill in your details below and we will send you this ebook via email