Cycling Weekend in Block Island — Week end à vélo à Block Island

block island rhode island

The Bluffs, Block Island in RI

It only takes one hour on the regular ferry to arrive to Block Island. Many people prefer to board the more recent high speed ferry too — shortening the trip to only thirty minutes — but P. and I were not feeling in a rush, even if we were keen to discover this small island off the coast of Rhode Island.

When I asked P. what he wanted to do for Labor Day weekend, he was feeling like me: we could not think about anything original beside that we wanted to find a destination away from people. “Ca va être plutôt dur à trouver ce week end !” P. told me when I insisted that we should go somewhere quiet and countryside-like (It will be hard to find this weekend!) Then I remembered Block Island. Why not? It had been years since we both wanted to visit this small island, which we had heard was still rural and casual compared to neighboring islands like Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. I was pretty sure that most places would be full since I was calling so late in the season — at least the type of accommodations where we usually prefer to stay. Big hotels were out of the question; we wanted a quiet friendly spot with character like a small B&B.

“We have had a cancellation so yes, we have a room if you want it,” Gabby at Sea Breeze Inn told me when I called.

Do we need a car, or are we OK with our bikes only?” I carried on.

You will be just fine. You can cycle pretty much everywhere.

We are coming!” I exclaimed joyfully before hanging up.

We had a weekend getaway plan.

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

Booking the ferry was easy. We only needed a spot for two seats and two bikes since our plan was to leave the car in Point Judith, one hour and a quarter away from Boston. As Mother Luck was on our side — ah merci bien — not only did the weather turn out gorgeously sunny despite a refreshing ocean breeze, but the Sea Breeze Inn exceeded what we had expected to find upon our arrival.

When we arrived in the village of Old Harbor early on Saturday morning, we had one bag, our bikes, a few books to read and an eagerness to cycle and relax by the water. After a five-minute walk up the hill overlooking the whole coast, we were welcomed by Gabby, the woman running the inn. When she saw us push our bikes in the downhill cobble-stoned driveway, her tanned face lit up with a friendly smile.

“You’re Béatrice, aren’t you?”, she said in a confident tone, as if she had already met me before. By looking at her strong, energetic body — just as tanned as her face — I guessed that she was a woman spending a lot of time working outside in the sun. I loved that she walked bare foot everywhere: I felt at home right away.

A quick tour of the property made us discover numerous small details that always make me love a house and place: deck chairs cleverly placed where I knew we would sit to read and watch the ocean; rooms with simple, unpretentious and rustic furniture; a well-kept, yet wild garden full of abounding, colorful flowers where butterflies seemed to have found a mini paradise. Then, I also noticed wild peas growing in the middle of tall pink field flowers, and ripe cherry yellow tomatoes that I disciplined myself not to steal and gulp down.

You can also borrow the canoes to paddle on the ponds,” Gabby added when she pointed in the direction of the two ponds located between the house and the ocean. “And, if you look to your right while walking down, you will also see a hammock. That is if you feel like taking a quiet nap during the day.”

Tucked away from the busier streets of the village near the harbor, we had really found a haven of peace for our weekend.

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

Block Island is a 7,000 acre island about seven miles long and three miles across at its widest point, with a population of about 1,000 permanent residents. Of course, during summer, this number grows considerably. Located twelve miles from Long Island and about the same distance from Charlestown, it is a perfect spot for anyone loving the outdoors, with gorgeous white-sanded beaches, a welcoming web of hiking trails, and plenty of water activities for all tastes. With more than forty percent of its land conserved, it really still offers untouched natural beauty. Of course, we noticed that not everyone wants to spend his or her time the same way: some would prefer to visit the place only for the day to party, while others would tend to stay away to enjoy the quietness of the place. And while some bike, others prefer to use mopeds — our choice was quickly made.

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

Breakfast with croissants, muffins and fresh fruit

So we cycled, picnicked and cycled again. One day, we visited the Bluffs, dramatic cliffs on top of which sits a majestic, once relocated lighthouse, then we continued on and cycled and walked to the northern tip of Mansion Beach for an early afternoon picnic and swim. Later that afternoon, we reached North Light where we stopped to nap and watch the sun go down on West Beach. On our second day on the island, our program looked about the same, and just as good. This time, we headed south and made it to Dorry’s Cove Beach and Charlestown Beach.

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

We dined formally on the first night and simply on the second. Since Gabby had recommended dinner at the Atlantic Inn, we followed her advice. She had lived most of her life on the island, so we trusted that she knew well the places around the island.

And right on. The food was surprisingly good. The Atlantic Inn is a large Victorian building sitting atop a hill overlooking the village of Old Harbor and the ocean below. Beside offering tapas and coktails that customers enjoy on the veranda at sunset, the restaurant also suggests a four-course menu for $49, without wines.

Our dinner started with a complementary tasty curried scallop as an mise-en-bouche. Then, while P. chose the shrimp and tuna carpaccio, I had the potato blinis with caviar and crème fraîche. The appetizers were by far the parts of the meal that we preferred — even if we enjoyed the rest of the meal, all the same. To cleanse palate between courses, we were served a refreshing small lime granité that reminded me of the trou lorrain served in my area in France, but without the alcohol. Then, while P. chose beet gnocchi, I opted for the butterfish with an orange-flavored sauce presented on a bed of julienned crunchy vegetables. Our dessert? A poached pear tartlet for P. and a plum cobbler with five-spice ice cream for me.

Atlantic Inn Block Island

Dinner at the Atlantic Inn

Atlantic Inn
High Street
Block Island, RI
(800) 224 7422

sea breeze inn block island rhode island

It is too nice to be so close to home,” P. told me when I mentioned how much I liked the place.

Yes, I just do not know why we waited for so long before coming.

But then, we had an excuse. We never thought that Block Island would be such a nice place to visit. In fact, deep inside, we had been scared that it could perhaps look like Cape Cod on a busy summer day. You know the feeling, don’t you? Sometimes you really get disappointed when your expectations are simply set too high.

But Block Island surely did not disappoint.

Oh, we will be back,” I told Gabby on Monday afternoon, when we were about to leave to get on the ferry.

With or without the sun, I am sure the place offers beauty all the same, no matter the color of the sky.

The Sea Breeze Inn
Spring Street
Block Island, RI
(401) 466 2275

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Posted in Food & Travel | 58 Comments

58 comments

  1. I love that you post about your travels, it’s so lovely to see and read. I’ve traveled a good bit on the east coast, so it’s always nice to revisit places I’ve been and to be introduced to new ones. I can’t believe that starfish on block island!

  2. So beautiful! It made me think of my getaway to the beach a while back…and my upcoming week in the mountains. I can’t wait to get out and take some photos…thank you for sharing and posting something so inspiring.

  3. Hi Bea,
    I’ve been to Block Island! I have a friend who has a house there and she invited me once for a few days. It was just a wonderful place, truly perfect. I’m so glad you got to visit there. (And you live so much closer to it than I do; you can return many times!)

  4. What a gorgeous and evocative collection of photographs! And I love the slow pace that traveling only by ferry and bike imposes.

  5. This looks SO wonderful. And it’s how I felt before I went to Greece: would it be too crowded? Too touristy? Would it not really be a getaway? I’m glad your experience turned out to be just as special as mine :)

  6. You are too great a photographer…you always come back with pictures so beautiful…or I guess east coast is just more scenic? Well, I think it’s still your photography skills! :)

  7. merci de nous faire partager ces belles ambiances…
    des paysages qui me sont inconnus… ça donne juste envie de prendre l’avion !

  8. Wonderful! I have no other word to describe tha way Block Island looks and your magnificent pictures!

  9. Oh Béa, qu’est-ce que ton post me fait réaliser à quel point le Rhode Island me manque, depuis que j’ai quitté Providence le mois passé ! Le ciel, les plages, la côte… Profite bien de ta proximité avec cette belle région!

  10. What a wonderfull place! I write from Italy and I always read your great blog, but I never dare to leave a comment… today I don’t resist! :)
    bye bye
    xxx

  11. Oh Béa, what an incredible place, week-end get away is right. Return, oh I would. Your pictures really transport as always. I really think you’ve shown me around. What a lovely place. Hope it stays that way. Thank you.

  12. quel coin superbe. je ne connaissais pas mais c’est sublime et tes photos nous racontent toujours une histoire ou une atmosphère

  13. Ah…j’aurais aime etre une gourde dans le panier de ton velo (une idee de reincarnation peut etre).

  14. Bea – it’s funny how we take for granted some beautiful places that are just in our back yard. I am guilty with that too. You have inspired me to look for these places. And thanks for taking us along with you with these magnificent pictures.

  15. Bea, those Dahlias are heavenly. My friend’s getting married in Maine next weekend, and all the flowers will be dahlias. You make such familiar-sounding places look so exotically beautiful – each time I come to your site I realize how much beauty there is nearby. Thank you for that.

  16. merci pour ce magnifique post…. hum comme ca fait envie tt ca !

  17. I’ve never seen a more beautiful collection of photos! I know I say this every time but gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. And the food is nothing short of gorgeous either.

  18. A monarch butterfly! They’re so beautiful! I’ve never been to Block Island (but have been meaning to travel there for years). Thanks for the gorgeous travelog–and now I even know where to stay when I go.

  19. You take beautiful photos, Bea. Wish I could have one of those DSLR cameras too. THough I’m a greenhorn with it. Hee…

    I chanced upon your Ratatouille Tatin Tart posted back in April and I must say it looks utterly delicious. I’m looking for a good recipe for the dish and yours look wonderful. Could you share the recipe with me, please?

  20. What a fabulous spot, fabulous post with wonderful photographs. I especially like all the ones of the bikes and baskets, and the lovely pink dahlia

    Thanks for sharing
    Joanna
    joannasfood.blogspot.com

  21. Je me disais que tu devais te balader quelque part et j’attendais ton compte rendu avec impatience. A chaque fois tes recits de weekend ne decoivent pas. Superbes photos…Tu me donne envie de prendre des vacances! Ah si seulement c’etait aussi facile!

  22. I’ve been visiting your site for over a year, but never posted a comment. This recent vacation of yours warranted a comment. I want a slice of seclusion with bicycles and tasty treats.

  23. Thank you all again for visiting. Always much appreciated! Merci, merci! It warms me up to hear you enjoy my travelogues. I love to share these with you!

  24. You found the best place to go and the best way to get around. Your descriptions and photos made me long for the island again.

  25. C’est magnifique Béa ! J’adore tes escapades et je voyage rien qu’à regarder tes photos et à lire tes articles…

    Encore une destination à ne pas oublier ! Bon, maintenant, je n’ai plus qu’à gagner au loto…

    Amicalement blog,
    Ingrid

  26. We went there years ago. Seeing it again through your eyes makes me want to return with our children some day soon!

  27. Oh, Bea, you take the best vacations! (or maybe they are just the type of vacations I like best:-). These photos are gorgeous–and even though I live on the opposite side of the country, with islands aplenty out here, I want to go to your island right now.

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  29. where do you find your places? can i consult you for my next secluded weekend wiht just a bike?

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  31. Bea,

    Nice blog, which I found via Flickr — my wife and I share passion for Block Island and for cuisine francaise! Good luck!

  32. Hi Bea,

    I am Ema – an amature cook and have been one of the admirers of your cookings and photos. After my Sony cybershot started mulfunctioning, I decided to get either Canon or Nicon. I remember seeing in one of your cooking pages you were showing the imige of your camera which you shoot all your pictures. I couldn’t find that page unfortunately . I like the quality of your photos and was wondering if it’s OK to ask you which camera you use.

    Sincerely,
    Ema
    ema5friends@yahoo.com

  33. what a great weekend bea… i am so very jealous right now. that’s my ideal getaway.

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  35. I stumbled on this site while looking for information about Block Island and Sea Breeze Inn… your pictures and story sold us on both – we just booked our stay :)

    I love your site – travel & food – my two favorite things :)

  36. Your photos and descriptions are true-to-life and wonderful! I’m heading to BI later this week and your article has whetted my appetite — this on top of returning to BI for a dozen years. I hope you haven’t done too good a job of attracting visitors to an unrivaled place.

  37. I had a very similar experience coming to Block on a J120 on a bright and sunny summer afternoon after a blissful sail from Fishers Island and a reservation at Champlin’s Dock, er should I say floating Jones Beach! Don’t ever go there!

  38. Wow, what a post! I’ve just discovered your blog, and it is something fantastic! The effort you put into documenting a journey such as this is just mind-blowing. It is almost as good as being there yourself.

  39. We had a loverly stay too, rented a beautiful island home through rentalspot.com which has many block island listings.

  40. Thanks for you kind comment about http://rentalspot.com! We are lovers of and homeowners on Block Island and recently launched the site. We’d love to get users/owners comments on how we can improve it! The site offers an easy map-based interface to find the perfect home, and allows collaboration among family/friends to agree on the perfect house. Also, owners/agencies list for free. Check out the Block Island listings at: http://rentalspot.com/VacationHomeResults/Locations/block+island+ri/

  41. The map-based interface works great on http://rentalspot.com. Plus the ad-supported model is unique for the space your in and vacation home owners (and renters) like me appreciate the free listings. I am going to try it out this year when I list my Bay Head, NJ home for rent.

  42. Hi-
    I am part of the family that own this Inn, and just found your site now. The photos are beautiful, and I love your description of our Inn, thank you very much. So happy to hear you had such a wonderful time on Block Island, it really is a wonderful place. I have just been working on a new website, it is seabreezeblockisland.com, and would love to add a link to this on the review page of our site, if that’s ok with you!

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