Most people who have never visited Shelter Island assume they need a car to traverse the island. But that is not entirely true.
If you are spending more than a day on “the Rock,” a car will expand your access to and enjoyment of the island, as Lauren Scully and Alex Lunz from Queens discovered when they stayed at The Chequit hotel sans car.
“We ended up taking a cab a lot,” Scully said. “We walked, we biked, but we ended up taking a cab most of the time.”
“Next time we’re going to look at the cost of coming and what we spent versus what a car rental would be and figure it out,” added Lunz.
But even if you don’t have a car, Shelter Island is still a great destination for a day trip. Just keep in mind that you’re not going to be able to see everything.
“It’s extremely easy to get around Shelter Island on foot,” said Keely Kotule, a college student in South Dakota who recently made a day trip to the island. “I lived here a few years ago and all I had were my feet. Sometimes it takes a while, but it’s not impossible.”
Shelter Island is about 27.1 square miles, according to the United States Census Bureau and only 12.1 square miles of that is land, the rest is water.
So how far can you get and where can you go? The answers are “pretty far” and “wherever you want to.” Both depend on your walking capabilities. Then there are bicycles and taxis for when you need a little help.
Once you have arrived on Shelter Island via the North Ferry, you are within walking distance of at least three hotels, several restaurants and many more shops and cafes. Always remember that North Ferry Road (Route 114) runs through the entire island, from the North Ferry to the South Ferry. Many businesses, restaurants and establishments can be found on that route or nearby.
To get to the commercial center of Shelter Island, leave the North Ferry behind, walk east on Summerfield Place, turn right onto Grand Avenue (Route 114) and keep walking. This part of the walk can take about seven to 10 minutes. That’s because even though it’s only 0.3 miles, it’s all uphill.
Visitors will first encounter the Chequit Hotel, the oldest hotel on Shelter Island. The Chequit is an island mainstay that offers fine dining, a new café and shopping.
The Chequit is the beginning of Shelter Island’s commercial center on Shelter Island Heights. On the same street are restaurants like the Shelter Island Pharmacy, Stars Cafe and Sweet Tomato’s. Shops in that area include Marie Eiffel clothing, Shelter Island Florists and Shelter Island Hardware.
Turn left onto Bridge Street (also North Ferry Road) and walk downhill another 0.2 miles across a small bridge. This will take from three to five minutes and bring you to another busy part of the island. Here you will find The Dory Bar & Restaurant as well as Marie Eiffel Market for coffee and casual dining. Shops include Bliss Department Store, Galerie Mallory and J.W. Piccozzi’s Fuel & Bike Rental Shop.
Crescent Beach and the Sunset Beach Hotel are about a 30-minute or 1.4 mile walk from North Ferry. Continue on Grand Avenue to Tower Hill Road to Sunnyside Drive. Walk south on Sunnyside Drive. Along the way you will pass the Shelter Island Country Club, where you will find food and refreshments at the new restaurant Vue. Continue walking and turn right onto Shore Road to reach the Sunset Beach Hotel, which also has a restaurant and bar for refreshments.
Just another half-mile down the beach on Shore Road is another historic hotel, The Pridwin, which also offers fine dining and refreshments.
Groceries, beverages and other supplies are available at the Shelter Island IGA, located at 75 North Ferry Road. The IGA is about a 1.5-mile walk from the North Ferry terminal. Take Grand Avenue to Bridge Street and continue on North Ferry Road (Route 114). Getting to the IGA from the beach is about a 1.5 mile walk west along West Neck Road, which converges with North Ferry Road. Take great care while walking along North Ferry Road (Route 114). This is a busy road and there are no sidewalks, so always walk against the traffic when on foot.
Once you’ve reached the IGA, several more restaurants and attractions are at your disposal, including The Shelter Island Craft Brewery, Maria’s Kitchen, The Islander Restaurant, Black Cat Book Store and Schmidt’s Market. This district is in the central part of the island and is about 1.8 miles away or a 35- to 45-minute walk from the North Ferry.
From here it is possible to continue to other parts of the island as long as you are willing to continue further than two miles. If you get tired of walking and returning on foot is not an option, there’s always Shelter Island’s taxi service, Shelter Island Gophers.
“We run year-round and in the summer we have three cars to meet the demand,” said Lisa Kaasic, whose family has run the taxi service for about 20 years. “There may be a bit of a wait on weekends, but we’re always just 10 minutes away.”
Shelter Island Gophers can be reached at (631) 749-4252.