Shelter Island lies between the north and south forks of Long Island and is described as an emerald country in a turquoise bracelet. This idyllic vacation is just 100 miles from New York City, and you may wonder if you can really come to an island with accommodation.

Shelter Island can be reached by ferry from Long Island, New York, from one of the two equally remote harbours. You can travel 100 miles to Greenpoint or Sag Harbour in just over 2 hours, and no booking is required for a 10 minute ferry ride.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about how to get to the shelter, what you need to know along the way and what you need to know from above and below.

Can I go to Refuge Island?

Shelter Island is a small island off the coast of Long Island, located between the North Fork wine region on Long Island and the Hamptons along South Fork.

Shelter Islanders will quickly point out the big difference between the celebrities scattered across the Hamptons and their own peaceful, tranquil lifestyle. Shelter Island may be peanut butter and jelly in a Hampton sandwich, but that’s where the similarities end.

Known as the Unhamptons for his quiet lifestyle, sobriety, crowd-free Hamptons lifestyle, glitter and charm. Shelter Island is a quiet and peaceful holiday spot just 10 minutes from the Hamptons.

Many yachts are anchored on a clear day in Sag Harbour, Long Island.
In Sag Harbor there are many sailboats and yachts and a ferry port to Shelter Island.


There are no bridges or dams between Long Island and Shelter Island, so the only option for you is to take a car ferry. There are two options, and both are as far apart as you travel from New York City or beyond.

Take the I-495 from New York City and drive over North Fork to Greenport or over South Fork to Sag Harbor. The time between the Brooklyn Bridge and each port is the same and the ferry from both ports takes the same 10 minutes, so it depends on which port you choose.

The North Ferry Co. ferries depart from Greenport and operate every 15-30 minutes from 6am to midnight. The Greenport ferry is slightly cheaper: $9 for the driver and the car for a one-way ticket and $2 for pedestrians.

From Sag Harbour the South Ferry sails every 10 to 12 minutes from 5.40 am to 11.45 pm. Tickets cost $12 for a one-way trip with car and driver and $1 for a ride.

How do I get to the shelter from New York?

The only way to get to Shelter Island is by boat or plane. There are no bridges or tunnels connecting the island to Long Island, although it is relatively close by.

There are more expensive options for air travel, but the best way to get to Shelter Island is to take one of the ferries that cross the island after passing Long Island to the ferry terminals.

It is 101 miles from New York City to Shelter Island via South Fork Harbour to Sag Harbor, and the Brooklyn Bridge is about 2 hours and 15 minutes away. Take the I-495 through Long Island to Gate 70 in Manorville. Continue to Eastport and join the NY-27 E, then take the Scuttle Hole Road to Sag Harbor.

A blue sky with thin layers of clouds and calm seawater and a tree near a red house on the beach and red rocks in the sand on a warm sunny day on Shelter Island, NY
If you want to dive or just sit on the shore, this is a show for you on Shelter Island.

Joao Paulo V Tinoco/

The journey to Shelter Island from New York via North Fork Harbor to Greenport is almost identical to the 100-mile journey, which takes the same two and a quarter hours from the Brooklyn Bridge. Take the I-495 through Long Island to exit 73 (Old Country Road) at Culverton.

Continue on the old country road to your destination in Greenport.

Both ports are regularly served by ferry companies and Shelter Island is just 10 minutes away from each port.

How long does it take to get to the shelter?

The time to go from both Long Island ports to the Shelter is the same. The trip from Brooklyn Bridge to the north and south forks of Long Island takes just over two hours.

The ferry takes 10 minutes from any point of departure to Shelter Island. Be aware of traffic jams when choosing a route to Shelter Island and choose a road that seems less passable. Lateral traffic, time, distance and costs are the same.

As I said before, the journey from the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City to Shelter Island is about 100 miles and takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes, depending on which port you want to cross.

As the island is very small, no matter which option you choose, the way you can get to your destination on the island will allow you to stay within a short distance of any terminal.

A ferry with cars and passengers from Shelter Island to Sag Harbour on a sunny day.
A southbound ferry from Shelter Island to Sag Harbor.

Leonard Zhukovsky/

Pay attention to traffic on Shelter Island on weekends and public holidays. The island is a very popular place during the summer months. The traffic to and through Long Island during your holiday can drive you crazy and the travel time can easily double. The opportunity to visit Refuge Island during the week will enhance both your trip and your experience on the island.

Please note that although ferries operate regularly, you may have to wait in line for about 30 minutes to catch the next ferry, or longer if you are travelling in high season.

The ferries leave every 10 minutes and every 30 minutes, depending on the port you wish to travel to (Sag Harbour ferries are slightly more frequent). A reservation on one of the ferries is not required.

Distances and time delays between Shelter Island (Greenport and Sag Harbor) and other locations

  • Boston, Massachusetts: 133 miles (3 hours 15 minutes)
  • Bussards Bay, MA: 133 miles (3 hours 15 minutes)
  • Hartford, CT: 77 miles (2 hours 20 minutes)
  • New Haven, CT: 74 miles (2 hours 20 minutes)
  • Supply, RI: 83 miles (2 hours 30 minutes)

What you need to know about driving on Shelter Island

  • You can reach Shelter Island from the mainland via Long Island, but you have to take the ferry from Sag Harbor or Greenport.
  • A ferry company in Greenport – North Ferry Co. costs $12 per car per driver one way, plus another $2 per additional passenger. You get a $6 discount if you buy a return ticket that comes back the same day.
  • Tell Harbor Ferry – (you guessed it!) South Ferry. Tickets cost $15 per car, the driver with additional passengers costs $2. A return flight on the same day costs only $5 per car and $1 for each additional passenger.
  • There is no need to book car and passenger ferries.
  • There are daily ferry connections all year round. However, weather conditions must be taken into account on arrival at the flight island. In New York, winters are terribly cold and the sea can be rough, which means ferries can fail.

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