The Interstate Navigation Company, New London, CT (tel. 860/442-7891 or 401/783-4613; www.blockislandferry.com), provides most of the surface service. This includes year-round passenger-and-vehicle ferries between Point Judith and Old Harbor on The Block and passenger-only ferries on daily runs between Newport and Block Island from July 1 to September 5. The Point Judith boats depart as many as nine times daily in high season, as few as two times daily in winter; sailing time is 50 minutes.
The Newport ferries leave Fort Adams at 9:15am and return from Old Harbor on Block Island at 4:45pm. Sailing time is 2 hours. While reservations aren't required for passengers, get to the dock early, as the boats tend to fill up quickly.
Getting a car to Block Island is something of a hassle and considerably more expensive. At this writing, round-trip fares are $17 to $21 for adults, $16 to $20 for seniors, and $8.20 to $12 for children. Passenger vehicles cost an additional $90 to $109, and there is a long list of different fees for bicycles, mopeds, and motorcycles. Car reservations must be made by phone at tel. 866/783-7996. Drivers, be prepared: You are expected to back your car into the close quarters of the ferry's main deck.
High-speed passenger-only service is in operation from both Point Judith and New London, Connecticut. Island Hi-Speed Ferry, Port of Galilee, RI (tel. 86/783-7996; www.blockislandferry.com), makes several daily round-trips from late May to early October. Sailing time is about 30 minutes; round-trip passenger fare is $30 adults, $14 children. Block Island Express, New London, CT (tel. 860/444-4624; www.goblockisland.com), has cut the previous average time to the Block nearly in half, to a little over an hour. Service is from late May to early October 10; round-trip fares are $35 to $40 for adults, $18 to $20 for children.
Given the cost of taking a car, consider parking in one of the nearby long-term lots at Point Judith or New London. Block Island is small, rental bicycles and mopeds are readily available, there are cabs for longer distances, and most hotels and inns are within a few blocks of the docks. There are even car-rental agencies on the island. If you intend to take a car anyway, understand that it's important to make ferry reservations well in advance, at tel. 866/783-7996 Monday through Friday between 5am and 4pm. Two months isn't too early for weekend departures.
One last thing: Try to avoid the last ferry Sunday nights in summer, when boisterous weekend drunks roll on board from the bars along Water Street.
Westerly State Airport, near the Connecticut border, is the base for over a dozen regular flights to and from Block Island via New England Airlines (tel. 800/243-2460, 401/596-2460 in Westerly, or 401/466-5881 on Block Island; www.block-island.com/nea). Flights depart hourly in summer, taking 12 to 15 minutes. Fares are $84 round-trip for adults, $69 for children. Make advance reservations and allow for the possibility that coastal fogs or high winds will delay or even cancel flights.
The Block Island Chamber of Commerce has a year-round information office at the ferry landing at Old Harbor (tel. 800/383-BIRI or 401/466-2474; www.blockislandchamber.com). Its attendants can answer questions and help visitors find lodging. In the same building are lockers for day-trippers and one of the island's few ATMs. A building at Corn Neck Road and Ocean Avenue contains the only bank, which also has an ATM.
Most streets on Block Island have no house numbers, and some roads have no names. Best leave your dog at home: Hotels, inns, and B&Bs won't accept them, they are banned from the beaches, and they are supposed to be leashed at all times.
Daily newspapers from Boston, New York, and Providence are sold at the Island Bound Bookstore, Water Street (tel. 401/466-8878; www.islandboundbookstore.com), next to the Post Office, and at B.I.G. (tel. 401/466-2949), the grocery store on Ocean Avenue (near Corn Neck Rd.). When they become available, however, depends on the ferry from Port Judith to which they are delivered each morning.
Cars are allowed on the island, but roads are narrow, winding, and without shoulders, and drivers must contend with runners and flocks of bicycles and mopeds. Unless your party includes people with mobility problems or small children, we recommend leaving your car on the mainland and joining the two-wheelers. If you'd like to rent a car after you arrive by boat or plane, Block Island Bike & Car Rental, on Ocean Avenue (tel. 401/466-2297), has offices near Payne's Dock and at the airport; reserve ahead. If you decide to bring your car to the island, top off the gas tank before rolling onto the ferry. There is only one rudimentary gas station, behind Sharky's restaurant.
Rental bikes and mopeds are available at several shops and stands. Convenient sources near Old Harbor include The Moped Man, Water Street (tel. 401/466-5444), on the main business street, renting bikes as well as mopeds; Old Harbor Bike Shop, at the ferry dock (tel. 954/270-4721; www.oldharborbikeshop.com); and Island Moped & Bikes, Chapel Street, behind the Harborside Inn (tel. 401/466-2700). Rates for bikes are typically $18 to $30 a day, less with widely available discount coupons. Moped rates vary but are usually from $75 to $90 for half to full days. Bargaining often brings prices down, especially early in the week after the weekenders have left, or for 3 or more days. Keep in mind that mopeds aren't allowed on dirt roads, which provide access to many beaches.
Some inns also rent bicycles, so a possible plan is to take a taxi from the ferry or airport to your inn, drop off luggage, and get around by bike after that. Two such inns are the Seacrest, 207 High St. (tel. 401/466-2882), and Rose Farm, on Roslyn Road (tel. 401/466-2034), but inquire about rentals when making room reservations at other places as well.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.