Lighthouse Beach is a small section of the Fire Island National Seashore that is adjacent to Robert Moses State Park. It was notable for having sections that are officially designated as clothing optional. It is named for the nearby Lighthouse and was the largest recognized clothing optional beach in New York. On Feb 5, 2013, the Fire Island National Seashore announced its plan to begin enforcing New York State anti-nudity laws on all Fire Island beaches, including Lighthouse Beach, possibly ending clothing optional usage.
(links to map & photo sources)
|Western end||Border of Robert Moses State Park and Fire Island National Seashore|
|Eastern end||Border of Kismet|
There are some reports of nudists using the beach as far back as World War II, getting to the island by rowboat. After the Robert Moses Causeway was extended to Fire Island in 1964, word slowly spread, resulting in the clothing optional usage expanding greatly in the 1970s.
Originally, the entire stretch of beach was clothing optional, however there have been some complaints from users objecting to the nudity going back to the 1980s. These complaints were largely from parents who visited the lighthouse and were surprised by the nudity on the beach.
In 1994, due to negotiations between Friends of Lighthouse Beach and the National Park Service, the center section was made non-clothing optional or textile so that visitors from the lighthouse who did not want to see nudity could enjoy the beach.
Since there is no vehicular traffic permitted in the Seashore, visitors must come in from the Robert Moses State Park in the west or the community of Kismet in the east. There is currently no handicapped access to the beach. In the past, there were accessible ramps from the westernmost boardwalk, but these have been destroyed by winter storms and have not yet been replaced.
New York State officials estimate that about 30% of the users of RMSP Field 5 avail themselves of the Lighthouse Beach and the Lighthouse itself.
There is signage on the beach at the start of each clothing optional section to alert unsuspecting visitors that "Beyond this point, you may encounter nude sunbathers."
As of February 5, 2013, Lighthouse Beach is no longer clothing optional. Bathing suits are required at all times, and park police have been observed patrolling the beach and issuing citations to nude sunbathers. Note that in New York State, women are legally permitted to be topless and continue to do so at this beach.
The beach is widely regarded as family friendly.
There are very limited services at this beach. There are no lifeguards or concessions. There are no trash receptacles making it a Carry in, Carry out facility. As with the rest of the Seashore, law enforcement is provided by National Park Service Rangers with occasional visits from the Suffolk County Police. At least two volunteer organizations work to ensure users are aware of appropriate behavior.
- Naturist Action Committee, Inc. (2008). "Nude Beaches Yes!". Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- Koschmann, Lena (February 5, 2013). "Lighthouse Beach Directive". National Park Service. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- Glass, Judy (23 August 1987). "NUDITY BAN SOUGHT AT FIRE I. LIGHT". New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2011. "FOR the last several years, sunbathers without suits have soaked up rays in front of the Fire Island Lighthouse..."
- Nieves, Evelyn (30 August 1994). "OUR TOWNS; Lighthouse Signals a Storm at the Beach". New York Times. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- "LIGHTHOUSE BEACH MAY LOSE ITS CLOTHING OPTIONAL STATUS IF WE DO NOT TAKE ACTION NOW!". Retrieved 9 March 2011.
- U.S. National Park Service. "Getting around on Fire Island". Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- U.S. National Park Service. "Getting to Fire Island". Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- "MEETING WITH NEW YORK STATE PARK OFFICIALS Sept 16, 2010". Long Island Travasuns, Inc. Retrieved 7 March 2011. "approximately 30%, by their estimation, of those parking in Field #5 of Robert Moses State Park are doing so in order to avail themselves of facilities on the federal property, namely the Lighthouse, and even more often the beach near it, commonly known as Lighthouse Beach, which is one of the most popular clothing-optional beaches in the entire Northeast U.S."
- "Detailed Maps of Lighthouse Beach Fire Island". The Long Island Travasuns Inc. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
- "Nude Beaches on Fire Island, New York". Hualapai West, Inc. 2008. Retrieved 14 March 2011. "Families, couples, single men, and single women all relax in a friendly atmosphere. Children run about digging holes in the sand, play paddleball, surf boogie boards, and splash along the sandy beach which is clean and litter-free."
- "CLOTHING OPTIONAL BEACH ETIQUETTE:". Retrieved 9 March 2011.
- "Lighthouse Beach Etiquette". Retrieved 12 March 2011. "...If you see something, say something. If a person is unaware of the beach etiquette, politely explain what is expected. If he or she doesn't respond, it is appropriate to notify someone who may help to get the message across..."
- Fire Island National Seashore page from the National Park Service
- Information about the beach from the Long Island Travasuns, Inc.