Fire Island Pines readies for busy 2022, particularly over Memorial Day weekend

Sun. May 22, 2022 12:05 PM by Ross Forman

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Memorial Day weekend start of busy summer travel season

One of the three biggest LGBTQ weekends of the year on Fire Island Pines is certain to draw a slew of worldwide vacationers looking for a getaway during the long Memorial Day weekend.

Especially after the past two years.

Fire Island Pines is a zigzag of boardwalks that lead to the island's most ritzy real estate between the ocean and bay. The town center features markets, boutiques, restaurants and more. And some claim Fire Island Pines is the home of the “tea dance.”

“It's always exciting to welcome back visitors after a long winter here in the Northeast,” said Kenny Sullivan, the island's resort director. “It was quite interesting (the past two years), with lots of downs but some ups too. The best thing is, we got through it.”

Sullivan smiles, knowing that Fire Island Pines kept visitors and staff safe during the pandemic, “while also managing to keep the Pines spirit alive,” he said.

Fire Island Pines is in the town of Brookhaven, N.Y., located on Fire Island, a barrier island separated from the southern side of Long Island by the Great South Bay. Fire Island Pines and the adjoining Cherry Grove are commonly associated with the gay community on Fire Island, and the island has been referred to as America's first gay and lesbian town.

“The Pines remained opened and busy during the peak of the pandemic,” Sullivan said. “New York City's LGBTQ+ community, as well as those all around the tri-state metro area, needed a place to escape … we are grateful that Fire Island Pines was that destination.”

Now the locals are ready for a swarm of gay love.

“We're expecting a very busy season and we're fully prepared to cater to our usual large crowds at The Pavilion, Tea Dances at The Blue Whale and restaurants,” Sullivan said.

Fire Island Pines is a “small community where we unite as one,” Sullivan said. “It's full-on, in-person interaction which rarely happens when you leave the island.” The area is most known for its beautiful beach, the tea dances at The Blue Whale, fun times at the Sip-N-Twirl and amazing sunsets.

Fire Island Pines is a prime destination for gay men, aged 25 and up.

“We're so excited to welcome all the newcomers who have never experienced Fire Island Pines and our regulars who are staples here in the Pines community,” Sullivan said. “(Come) experience our iconic tea dances at The Blue Whale and try our signature cocktail, which is a Planters Punch, then swing by The Canteen or Pines Pizza to boy-watch and enjoy the great food. Take a power nap and then head over to The Pavilion to burn off all the calories from earlier in the day.” 

The Pines Gym has been upgraded with a new tent and equipment, including two Peloton bikes – and it is now open. Pines Bistro and The Canteen have revitalized their menus. The island's world-famous nightclub, The Pavilion, is ready. Sip N Twirl, CAMP & Pines Pizza are open and the General Store and retail shops TRBL and HANDSOME are must-see stops, too. Joining the retail outlets in the commercial district this summer will be Ron Dorff, a menswear brand that combines Swedish functionality with French style.

Fire Island Pines first became a destination for gay men in 1952, when it was illegal for two men to dance together in public and when many in the world viewed gay men as sexual deviants. With its lush foliage, white sandy beaches, beautiful modern architecture, and miles of wood plank boardwalks, the island served as a refuge for young men to take each other's hands and help each other explore their natural inclinations. Fire Island Pines also attracted celebrities from Liza Minelli to Luciano Pavarotti. Calvin Klein, David Geffen, Perry Ellis and others have purchased homes on the island.

“The Pines continues to be a unique, magical place like no other on the planet,” Sullivan said.

A trip to Fire Island Pines from New York City is less than two-hours on the Long Island Railroad. From the Sayville train stop, travelers board busses to the Fire Island Pines ferry. There is a nearby airport, too. Long Island MacArthur Airport is 10-minutes away, allowing guests from around the world to enjoy The Pines' many attractions.

“We are secluded but remain very much in touch with what is going on in the world,” Sullivan said.

Hotel stays and reservations for dinner at The Bistro and Blue Whale should be made well in advance, Sullivan suggested.

“The experience on Fire Island Pines has remained the same for the past 70 years with only a few modern tweaks,” Sullivan said.

For the first time in two years, Fire Island Pines is now open at full capacity – with Memorial Day weekend, July 4th and Labor Day weekend its busiest times of the year.

For more information on Fire Island Pines, go to: