14 Best Block Island Photography Spots

Block Island is a popular summer photography destination and it is known for its bicycling, hiking, sailing, fishing, and beaches. It is located just 9 miles south of mainland Rhode Island and 14 miles east of Montauk Point, NY. Multiple ferries take passengers to and from the island each day.

There are many sights on Block Island which are must-see locations. These include charming harbors, dramatic cliffs, well-maintained nature trails, and white sand beaches. In 1991, The Nature Conservancy named Block Island one of 12 “Last Great Places” in the western hemisphere. This special designation highlights the island’s abundance of rare plants and animals and the community’s unique support for conservation. In total, about 40 percent of the island is set aside for conservation.

Here are 14 of the best places to photograph on Block Island:

Great Salt Pond

The Great Salt Pond, Block Island’s lone estuary, is one of the most popular harbors on the East Coast. The 673-acre tidal pond is a popular spot for kayaking, paddle boarding, and leisure boating.

Inside the port, the first thing you’ll notice is a large mooring field, followed by a row of seven marinas, five of which cater to transients. Block Island Harbors Department manages the moorings and provides a water taxi service. The inner harbor is also where the Montauk ferry docks.

Great Salt Pond is where early island life was centered. The Great Salt Pond Archaeological District testifies to its importance in the early Native American presence on the island.

Mansion Beach

Mansion Beach was once home to a real mansion, Edward F. Searles’ enormous, exquisite property, which burned down in the 1960s and was never rebuilt. The beach, even without the palace, is one of the most beautiful on the island. Mansion Beach is located on the north end of Crescent Beach and is usually less congested than other beaches on Block Island. It also has larger waves than most of the other island beaches, which makes it ideal for body surfing and beach combing. To reach the beach, take Corn Neck Road for about three miles and search for a dirt road on the right with a sign that says Mansion Beach Road. Follow the road to the end, where you’ll find a spacious parking lot built around the former mansion’s foundation and a short path to the beach.

Mohegan Bluffs

The Mohegan Bluffs are a series of massive clay cliffs on Block Island’s southern shore that rise to a height of about 200 feet. The Niantic and Mohegan war took place here in the mid-16th century, giving the cliffs their name. The battle was for control of the island, and the native Niantic forced the encroaching Mohegans over the cliffs to their deaths.

Some claim the beach at the base of the 200-foot Mohegan Bluffs is the most picturesque and seculded on the island. Visitors spend their days sunning on the beach, swimming in the ocean, strolling their dogs, or simply enjoying the cliffs. It is, however, a bit of a trek to get there, with 141 steps leading down to the sand. With clay cliffs that offer one of the most stunning views of the Atlantic in all of Rhode Island, and a panorama that can reach all the way to Montauk on the tip of Long Island, the reward is spectacular. The steps are easy to identify – a plaque honoring the history of the bluffs may be seen at the Bluff Overlook.

National Hotel

On Block Island, the National Hotel is a landmark. It’s right in the heart of Old Harbor, across from the ferry terminal and some of New England’s best beaches. The hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places and was built in 1888. The hotel’s 120-foot long front porch and restaurant, the Tap and Grille, offer breathtaking ocean vistas. It’s hard not to notice the massive Second Empire-style resort hotel!

North Lighthouse

The Block Island North Light was built to mark the entrances to Block Island Sound and Long Island Sound, as well as to warn ships away from the island’s treacherous Sandy Point, which stretches for about a mile. The first lighthouse, built in 1829, was made up of two lights on opposing extremities of a structure. Two years after the original lighthouse was erected, the schooner Warrior sunk during a storm at Sandy Point. 21 people died during this tragic crash at Sandy Point.

The first lighthouse was soon endangered by the sea, so a new one was built farther inland in 1837. Two lights were put at either end of a house once more. The lights were thought to be overly faint, and seafarers reported that from a distance of more than three miles, they appeared to be a single light. In 1857, a new structure was built, but it was quickly destroyed by the shifting sands.

The fourth lighthouse went into service on September 14, 1868. The lighthouse was constructed many yards away from the ocean, making it able to remain standing as shoreline was lost due to erosion. The lighthouse was also constructed with extremely strong materials. The lighthouse keepers home was built of granite with an iron lighthouse tower. The current lighthouse also used a fourth-order Frensel lens, which created a fixed white light visible for over 13 miles. The lighthouse was automated in 1956, but deactivated in 1973.

The lighthouse, along with two acres of land, was sold to New Shoreham in 1984 for one dollar after years of neglect. It was relighted in 1989 after extensive renovations by the North Light Commission, and a museum opened on the first level in 1993. The light was then restored in 2008 at Georgetown Ironworks in Massachusetts and returned in 2009. Finally, on October 23, 2010, there was a relighting ceremony.

Old Harbor

Old Harbor is a man-made yacht basin on Block Island’s east side, virtually on the other side of the island from Great Salt Pond, which is on the west side. The major landing place for mainland ferries that sail on a regular basis to the island is Old Harbor, however there is also a marina with limited mooring facilities here. The ferry traffic that comes and goes at all hours makes anchoring impossible.

On the other side of the little harbor, inside the Old Harbor breakwaters, is a single marina with facilities and spots available to transitory guests. On entry, there are moorings to starboard.

Rodmans Hollow

Rodman’s Hollow is a spectacular 230-acre glacial outwash plain with spectacular Atlantic Ocean views and access to Black Rock Beach. Rodman’s Hollow has a one-mile trail that is lined with native trees and bushes. It’s a wonderful site to look for glass floats, which are 550 handcrafted numbered orbs concealed around the island as part of the Glass Float Project, an interactive art experience.

Sacred Labyrinth

The Sacred Labyrinth on Block Island is a small circular walkway paved with stones where you can unplug from the contemporary world’s constant distractions and enjoy some peace.

When you reach the circle’s center, there’s a spot to sit and take in the views of Sachem Pond, North Lighthouse, and the ocean beyond. Pay attention to the sounds of the birds—and perhaps the universe’s reply. Also, peep inside the wooden box buried away beneath a crabapple tree. You’ll find notebooks where previous visitors have written down their own personal reflections on their visit to this unique location. Visitors are welcome to share their own thoughts that occurred while visiting the Sacred Labyrinth.

Scotch Beach

With extensive areas of white sand and volleyball nets always set up, Scotch Beach is the greatest place to “see and be seen.” It’s an excellent beach for body surfing and boogie boarding because it has higher waves and less rocks than other beaches. The beach is located only a quarter mile north of Fred Benson Town Beach and about 1.5 miles from Old Harbor where the ferries land.

Southeast Lighthouse

Southeast Lighthouse, perched atop Mohegan Bluffs, is an architectural marvel. It’s one of the island’s two lights, and it’s the most accessible. Its grounds provide breathtaking vistas of the Atlantic, including the best view on the island of the new Block Island Windfarm, which is three miles offshore.

The 52-foot lighthouse was built of brick and granite in 1875. There is a large boulder close to the Mohegan Bluffs which marks the original location of the lighthouse. In 1993, the lighthouse was moved roughly 300 feet inland to avoid the erosion happening on the shore.

In 1990, the lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1997, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. It was one of only 12 lighthouses with a first-order Fresnel lens when it was designated in 1997.

A modest museum and gift store are located at the base of the lighthouse. As of September 2015, the tower is open throughout the summer season and offers $10 guided trips to the top. The proceeds from the tours go toward the lighthouse’s repair.

Spring House Hotel

The Spring House Hotel is the oldest and biggest hotel on Block Island. The main building, which dates from 1852, houses 32 guest rooms that retain the island’s unique New England charm. It’s no surprise that the hotel is one of New England’s most sought places, with its wraparound veranda, mansard roof, distinctive cupola, and spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island’s highlands.

The hotel can be accessed via a quick walk from major island destinations – it is an 11 minute walk from the Block Island ferry, 7 minute walk from Old Harbor, and just a mile from Fred Benson Town Beach.

Station Block Island

Station Block Island, created by the USLSS, is US Coast Guard Station that was established on the southwest corner of Block Island. But, when the motorized rescue craft was introduced, the station was relocated to the Great Salt Pond. This Station Block Island served as the islands premier Coast Guard location, replacing three separate ones that previously were being used. In 1986, Station Block Island was decommissioned as a year-round, fully operational unit.

In 1996 the station’s buildings were given to the Town of New Shoreham in 1996 with the stipulation that they keep quarters for the Coast Guardsmen on duty during the summer.

US Weather Bureau Station (Block Island)

The United States Weather Bureau Station is a historic former weather station on Beach Avenue in Block Island, Rhode Island. It’s a two-story wood-frame building with three bays and a flat roof with a low balustrade. A full-width porch spans the front of the house, supported by clustered columns. Harding & Upman designed the Classical Revival structure, which was built in 1903 to replace a station that had been damaged by fire the year before. It was utilized as a weather station until 1950, with meteorological instruments set on the roof and grounds. It was then transformed into a summer tourist retreat.

In 1983, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can view the building from Beach Avenue, but the land and building are private and trespassing is prohibited.

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