No fooling: April 1st marked the official beginning to the Fire Island season. Sure it's still chilly, the pace is slow, and the real action doesn't start heating up till after Memorial Day, but for those in the New York City know, when island bar Sip 'n' Twirl slings its first planters punch, you can't but help anticipate the sun on your short shorts and sand between your toes. For those not in the northeast, there's no time like this summer to experience this gay right of passage – and it's never too early to plan ahead.
Arguably the queerest place on earth and certainly one of the most liberated, Fire Island's twin towns of the Pines and Cherry Grove – both a 20-minute ferry ride off Long Island's southern shore to a slim spit of a barrier island, roughly 2 hours from NYC – are a hermetically-sealed world of fun, their boardwalks, dunes and salty gray bungalows ready for a riotous romp or removed relax. Unfortunately cramped shares or expensive nights in sub-par hotels usually follow. Thankfully, for a third year running, Australian-based gay tour company Haute Vacances (HauteVacances.com) has a stress-fress alternative: an industry-exclusive packaged experience August 19-26, Ascension weekend.
Perfectly timed for when Gotham gets its grossest with heat and humidity, the Haute NYC & Fire Island Experience promises an indulgent en suite stay in one of the Pines' Architectural Digest-certified mod stunners as well as limo/ferry transfers from Manhattan, VIP tickets and party access to Ascension, a summer highlight and charity-driven circuit party on the beach to benefit the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Luxury, naturally, is top of mind: This is where the A Gays play, after all. Prices start at $3,725 (double occupancy). A four-day add on to NYC with a stay at ultra-hip The Standard is also available.
Outside of the event, typical FIP days involve drinks by the pool, beach time (nude or not), excursions through the wooded “Meat Rack” to more bohemian Cherry Grove, sunset carousing during Low Tea, heavy flirting, and group dinners before heading back to town later at night. Rock. Rest. Repeat. In other words: escapist bliss. Click here for complete info and how to book.
Can't wait? Shake up some planters punch at home (recipe, here; add about twice as much booze to mimic Fire Island) and dream of summer with our beach top 10s or Summer Party Spots hot lists. Then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the best prices for flights to New York City and beyond.