One-hundred-and-seventy-four acre East Beach State Park is a three-mile long barrier beach of white sand that faces Block Island Sound. If you have a recreational vehicle you may try your luck at camping at one of 20 first come first serve overnight campsites located directly on the beach (no tents). There are also an additional 30 day use sites located directly on the beach for swimming, sunbathing or just relaxing. Access to either the campsites or day use areas requires the purchase of a $50 Barrier Beach Permit. The beach has a lifeguard on duty during the summer months and is relatively private due to the small parking lot that accommodates less than 100 vehicles.
On the northern border of East Beach State Park sits Ninigret Pond, a large salt pond that is a popular location for both bird watching and wind surfing. Salinity of Ninigret Pond has increased dramatically due to the installation of a permanent channel to Block Island Sound in 1952. The brackish water has been replaced by a tidal estuary and now serves as a critical safe haven for a variety of marine life. The northern shore of Ninigret Pond is a National Wildlife Refuge for hundreds of species of marine and bird life.
Further east of East Beach State Park sits tiny 62-acre Charlestown Breachway State Park. It is here at the eastern end of Ninigret Pond that the channel to Block Island Sound sits. The park has 75 cramped and open beachside campsites for recreational vehicles only on a first come first served basis. There are no services of any kind and open fires are not allowed, but the cool breezes, panoramic 270-degree views of Block Island Sound, and if your lucky the ability to park almost at the waters edge help you forget about the close proximity of your neighbors. The park also offers a boat ramp that provides access to Block Island Sound and Narragansett Bay. Charlestown Breachway State Park is an outstanding location for saltwater fishing and for digging clams. Both activities require a permit and you should check regulations and safety warnings, especially for red tide that can cause serious illness if infected shellfish are eaten.
Located southwest of Burlingame State Park is 152-acre Misquamicut State Beach. This day use park is a barrier beach just east of Watch Hill, Rhode Island and was born after the state purchased the hurricane ravaged spit in 1954. The popular park has undergone a series of forced renovations after almost being closed permanently in 1992. Misquamicut's meteorological scars have long since healed and it is a popular beach for surfing and beachcombing. A lifeguard is on duty during the summer months.
Despite what the TV networks wants you to believe about Rhode Island through popular TV shows like Providence and Family Guy, outdoor adventure and scenic beauty can be found in this tiny state. Burlingame State Park is an excellent starting point if your Rhode Island adventure includes hiking, boating, wind surfing, or walking on miles of available beaches. Throw in some world class bird watching and the tepid New England weather, and the western shores of Rhode Island suddenly becomes an ideal choice for your next great adventure.
Just The Plain Facts
Name: Burlingame State Park, Misquamicut State Beach, East Beach State Park, Charlestown Breachway State Park
Location: Southwestern Rhode Island, Newport, Rhode Island
Nearest Major Air Service: Providence, Rhode Island
Fees & Permits: Burlingame State Park, picnic sites, $2, picnic shelter, $35. Misquamicut State Beach, daily parking fee $2 to $10. East Beach State Park, daily parking fee $2 to $10, barrier beach permit to drive vehicle onto beach, $50 annual permit. Charlestown Breachway State Park, daily parking fee $2 to $10.
Why Visit: Excellent bird watching, access to scenic and historic Block Island Sound. Beach camping, close proximity to many historic attractions, access to the southern terminus of the North South Trail.
When To Visit: Memorial Day to Labor Day, many tourist related activities and services are closed after the summer season. Burlingame State Park is also excellent to visit in October and November for fall foliage and migratory bird watching.
Essential Gear: Depends on very wide variety of activity, sunscreen, lip balm, insect repellant, wind breaker, towel, blanket, sandals, camera, binoculars, water (other equipment strongly recommended)
You Should Know: Reservations for campsites at Burlingame State Park through the mail only. Misquamicut State Beach can be very crowded. Stays at Charlestown Breachway State Park and East Beach State Park campgrounds are limited to four consecutive days. If you hike in Burlingame State Park beware of deer ticks and Lyme disease. Wear light colored long pants tucked into your socks, use insect repellants and inspect for ticks at the end of each day.
More Information: To contact all of the parks featured, Burlingame State Park, Charlestown, Rhode Island 02813, (401) 322-8910