KISMET: ACROSS THE BAY WITH MJ
by Marijane Voltz
WELCOME TO KISMET, the most westerly community on Fire Island, located just one mile east of the Fire Island Lighthouse. Known for its friendly community and lighthearted atmosphere, there’s no better place to spend your weekends and vacation in the summer.
Part of Kismet’s charm is that you can only get there by bike, boat or foot. With the Fire Island Ferries located at the end of Maple Avenue in Bay Shore, it is easy to find the ferry dock. Shuttle buses await their passengers at the Bay Shore Train Station as weekend warriors make their way from the city. The shuttles then taxi their passengers to their intended terminals. There is a 40-slip marina at the Kismet Inn for those who travel by their own private boat.
Another way to Kismet is by way of foot. Drive over to Robert Moses, Field 5 and begin your journey. Along the way, you can enjoy climbing the 182 steps of the Fire Island Lighthouse. The panoramic views from the top are breathtaking, as you look down at the natural barrier reef that lies between ocean and bay.
There is a museum at the base of the Lighthouse where the Lighthouse Keepers used to live with their families. Here you can learn of their harsh and demanding lifestyles. Just west of the Lighthouse is a new building, displaying the very first Fresnel lens that was a guide to incoming boats from the years of 1858 to 1933.
After your Lighthouse excursion, you can continue on your way to Kismet by hiking the natural trails, walking on the ocean or by way of the bay. Any of these options would be the right choice, for there is so much natural beauty along the way.
By the time you get to Kismet, you’ll be ready for some lunch and a cold beverage from one of the two bay front restaurants, The Kismet Inn, which is famous for it’s baked clams and seafood, and the Surf’s Out, which specializes in Italian fare and sushi. If you are looking for a quick bite to eat, there is also the Pizza Shack and the Kismet Market. And finally, if you’re interested in sipping some wine and enjoying a cheese platter, you may want to checkout the Beach and Vine Wines.
After lunch, a nice walk to the beach should be on your agenda. With five new walkways and brand new dunes, your excursion should be an enjoyable one as you take in the community and its charm. When you get to the beach, don’t forget your sunscreen, it is so delightful you may never want to leave.
In 1925 Kismet was made up of three separate communities: Lighthouse Shores, Kismet Proper and Seabay Beach. Eventually, the three communities merged into one creating the hamlet of Kismet. As you make your way around town, you can see where the three communities had once separated from each other.
Back in 1844, Felix Dominy, the Lighthouse keeper at the time, built the Dominy House Hotel, the first hotel on Fire Island. Getting into trouble for choosing to entertain guests first and be keeper of the Lighthouse second, got Mr. Dominy discharged from his duties. The Dominy House was primarily an attraction for hunters and fishermen until 1903, when a questionable fire destroyed the hotel. The chimney base of the hotel now stands a few hundred feet from the Surf’s Out.
What Kismet Means to Me
Kismet holds a very special place in my heart. Having grown up in Brightwaters, Kismet was my backyard and playground as a kid. By working on the Fire Island Ferries, I had great access to the beach and all of the wonderful perks that came along with it. Now as an adult, I call Kismet my home. Having been a resident for over 19 years and having raised my three children here during the summer months, I can say that Kismet is my favorite place to be.
We are a tight knit community that has a similar feeling to that of Mayberry. For instance, our friend Russell Youman is our lifeguard during the day keeping us safe from the ocean, but also our policeman at night keeping us safe from ourselves. Erin Wahlberg, our head bartender at the Kismet Inn, also wears two hats in our community, as she is a member of the Kismet Fire Department. Our ferry captain, Morgan Mooney, moonlights as our local artist who paints masterpiece designs onto Vans footwear, which are sold at The Red Wagon by the ferry dock. And let’s not forget our Fire Chief, Dominic Bertucci, who doubles as our DJ at the Surf’s Out. It really does take a village and I wouldn’t trade mine for the world.
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