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Life's a Beach on Long Island; The MTA LIRR is the "Greenest Way" to a Summer in Blue Ocean and White Sand Luxury

Although commuting to work may not be some rail riders idea of "a day at the beach," we bet they would have a radical change in attitude if they take the LIRR to Long Island's glorious beaches. If your summer destination is one of the great Long Island beaches from Long Beach to the East End, or one in between, the LIRR is the best way to get there and the "greenest." Save energy, time and avoid traffic by taking one or all of the Long Island Rail Road's summer beach packages and extra service to the Hamptons and Montauk. After all, you've got the entire summer to enjoy.

Let's start by taking a look at the LIRR's eight Fire Island beach packages. Fire Island affords a great opportunity to leave the car behind and enjoy miles of boardwalk, trails and pristine beaches:

Kismet/Fire Island Lighthouse (Ferry from Bay Shore) – Take the train to Bay Shore Station and board a David Brothers Taxi to the Fire Island Ferries. Intensely informal, car-free and easygoing, Kismet is known as a great community with something for everyone. Amenities include a couple of full service restaurants, two public tennis courts, a basketball court, and playground area. Just a half-mile from the beach is the 150 year-old Fire Island Lighthouse. General admission is included in the package. A climb to the top of the lighthouse provides a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, the Great South Bay, Fire Island, Long Island and the Manhattan Skyline. It's perfect for individuals, families, or groups. For information and events call 631-661-4876 or visit fireislandlighthouse.com. The special package fare is $34.00 from New York or Brooklyn and $33.50 from Jamaica. For children 5-11 years of age the fare is $18.50; Children must be at least 42" tall to climb the lighthouse. For a schedule of ferry departure times call Fire Island Ferries at 631-665-3600 or visit fireislandferries.com. The LIRR package continues daily through September 6.

Ocean Beach (Ferry from Bay Shore) – Take the train to Bay Shore Station and board a David Brothers Taxi to the Fire Island Ferries. Home to over a dozen restaurants, hotels, and endless attractions such as sidewalk sales, live bands, and innumerable shops and boutiques, Ocean Beach is truly the 'cosmopolitan' center of Fire Island. For the ultimate seafood experience by the water, or to just unwind and take in the charming atmosphere, Ocean Beach has it all and it's a great family destination. The special package fare is $30.00 from New York or Brooklyn and $29.50 from Jamaica. For children 5-11 years of age the fare is $14.50. New for 2010, the package now includes a "LIRR Ocean Beach Deals" coupon. Customers can show this coupon to receive offers from the following participating merchants: Bocce Beach, Island Mermaid, Maguires Restaurant, Matthews Seafood House, The Albatross, The Hideaway and A Summer Place.

For a schedule of ferry departure times call Fire Island Ferries at 631-665-3600 or visit fireislandferries.com. The LIRR package continues daily through September 6.

Ocean Bay Park (Ferry from Bay Shore) – Take the train to Bay Shore Station and board a David Brothers Taxi to the Fire Island Ferries. One of the most relaxed of the Fire Island communities, Ocean Bay Park has a mix of families and singles. Bay-front dining is available at two of the four restaurants. There is also a grocery store, two pizza places and a bagel shop. For a schedule of ferry departure times call Fire Island Ferries at 631-665-3600 or visit fireislandferries.com. The special package fare is $30.00 from New York or Brooklyn and $29.50 from Jamaica. For children 5-11 years of age the fare is $14.50. The LIRR package continues daily through September 6.

Cherry Grove (Ferry from Sayville) – Take the train to the Sayville Station and board a Colonial Taxi to the Sayville Ferry. Time has no meaning on Fire Island (just remember your ferry &train times). You'll think you've entered a different world. Lay on the beach, and let yourself go. Push your toes through the warm sand. Relax, dine and dance, and indulge yourself. The shops and restaurants are all brilliantly colored and built on multi-levels, so you can find something for everyone. The Sayville Ferry Service can be contacted at 631-589-0810 or on their website at sayvilleferry.com. The special package fare is $30.00 from New York and Brooklyn, and $29.50 from Jamaica. The LIRR package continues daily through Sept. 6.

Fire Island Pines (Ferry from Sayville) – Take the train to the Sayville Station and board a Colonial Taxi to the Sayville Ferry. "The Pines" named for the beautiful wind-sculpted pine trees, is truly an architectural paradise and the largest community on the Island. When you approach from the Bay side, you are reminded almost of Monte Carlo or the south of France. Colorful umbrella-spiked tables on the wide terraces of outdoor bars &restaurants form the picturesque harbor. Populated in good part by members of the world of fashion and design, it is well known for its upscale social life and beautiful harbor. The Sayville Ferry Service can be contacted at 631-589-0810 or on their website at sayvilleferry.com. The special package fare is $30.00 from New York and Brooklyn, and $29.50 from Jamaica. The LIRR package continues daily through Sept. 6.

Sunken Forest at Sailors' Haven (Ferry from Sayville)– Take the train to Sayville Station and board a Colonial Taxi to the Sayville Ferry. Sunbathe on a pristine ocean beach or take a nature walk through the beautiful and enchanted Sunken Forest at Sailors' Haven. The Sunken Forest is an enchanting 300 year-old primeval holly forest situated below the primary dune. The Parks Department provides free guided tours. The Sayville Ferry Service can be contacted at 631-589-0810 or on their website at sayvilleferry.com. The special package fare from New York and Brooklyn is $26, and $25.50 from Jamaica. For children 5-11 years of age the fare is $15.50. The LIRR package continues daily through Sept. 6.

Watch Hill (Ferry from Patchogue)- Take the train to Patchogue Station. Watch Hill Ferry terminal is a short walk west on Division Street, then south on West Avenue. Lounge in the sun on a peaceful beach on the secluded shores of Fire Island or walk the nature trails. The ferry service is run by the Davis Park Ferry Company, they can be contacted at 631-475-1665 or on their website at davisparkferry.com. The special package fare is $26.00 from New York or Brooklyn and $20.50 from Jamaica. For children 5-11 years of age the fare is $13.50. The LIRR package continues daily through September 6.

Davis Park (Ferry from Patchogue) – Take the train to Patchogue Station, and board Lindy's Taxi to the Davis Park Ferry. On one end, a huge boat-filled marina, on the other magnificent ocean waves form this community's great landscape. After swimming, walking or sunbathing on the beach, enjoy the local popular restaurant and bar, with live music and dancing on the weekends. The Davis Park Ferry Company can be contacted at 631-475-1665 or on their website at davisparkferry.com. The special package fare is $32.00 from New York or Brooklyn and $31.50 from Jamaica. For children 5-11 years of age the fare is $23.50. The LIRR package continues daily through September 6.

There are also LIRR trips to beaches (we supply the transportation, some "with a little help from our friends") and you enjoy the sand and/or water:

Robert Moses – Take the train to Babylon Station and walk downstairs for the S-47 Suffolk Bus. Located on the western tip of Fire Island, Robert Moses State Park offers world-class sand and surf in a casual, less-crowded atmosphere. The special package fare is $19.00 from New York and Brooklyn, and $15.00 from Jamaica. The connecting S47 bus service, provided by Suffolk Transit, from Babylon Station to Robert Moses operates approximately every half-hour on weekends; hourly on weekdays. The last bus departs Robert Moses at 6:30 PM. Daily service begins June 21 and continues through September 6.

Jones Beach (Freeport Station) Featuring one of the world's finest beaches, Jones Beach State Park offers miles of sandy beaches and refreshing ocean surf. A two-mile-long boardwalk, games, playgrounds, and swimming pools are also available at the park. The discounted package ticket includes round trip rail fare to Freeport and MTA Long Island Bus service via the N88 to and from the Central Mall, and the East and West Bath Houses at Jones Beach. The special package fare is $16.50 from New York or Brooklyn, and $13.50 from Jamaica. Connecting buses, from MTA Long Island Bus, leave Freeport starting every 30 minutes from 8:35 AM to 6:35 PM, the last bus leaves at 7:35 PM. From Jones Beach service will run every 30 minutes from 9 AM to 7 PM, the last bus is at 8 PM. Weekend service starts May 29 and holidays. Weekday service begins June 26 and continues through September 6. Attention Jones Beach Theatre Concertgoers: Due to service reductions required to address the MTA's nearly $800-million budget shortfall for 2010, there will be no LI Bus service at Freeport Station to/from Jones Beach Theatre.

Long Beach – Enjoy the ambiance of a seaside resort, just a short train ride from Penn Station, Brooklyn or Jamaica. Just a few blocks from the LIRR's Long Beach Station, Long Beach offers unsurpassed ocean swimming and a two and a half mile long boardwalk, summer concerts and Arts &Crafts Festivals. The discounted package ticket includes one-day round trip rail fare to Long Beach and admission to the beach. The special package fare is $19.00 from New York or Brooklyn, and $16.00 from Jamaica. Hourly service is available from Penn Station, Brooklyn and Jamaica; with direct weekend service from Penn Station. Weekend service starts May 29 and holidays. Weekday service begins June 26 and continues through September 6.

The LIRR, of course, takes you to the beaches of the South and North Forks, voted by some authorities as among the world's best beaches (we take no sides, but certainly don't disagree). Here's a roundup of the additional trains to the East End of Long Island on Fridays through the summer to get your weekend started off right:

The 1:57 PM train from Hunterspoint Avenue (connecting at Jamaica with the 1:50 PM train from Penn Station), arriving Montauk at 4:45 PM.

The 4:06 PM train from Hunterspoint Avenue (The Cannonball – the LIRR's premier express train, connecting at Jamaica with the 3:58 PM train from Penn Station), arriving Montauk at 6:48 PM (this train also operates Thursdays during the summer arriving Montauk at 6:38 PM).

The 5:09 PM train from Penn Station (connecting at Jamaica with the 4:59 PM train from Hunterspoint Avenue), arriving Montauk at 8:29 PM.

The 7:38 PM train from Jamaica (connecting at Jamaica with the 7:11 PM train from Penn Station and the 6:41 PM train from Hunterspoint Avenue), arriving Montauk at 10:10 PM.

The 3:55 pm train from Penn Station (connecting at Jamaica with the 3:56 PM from Atlantic Avenue), (changing at Ronkonkoma at 5:16 PM), and arriving at Greenport at 6:45 PM.

These trains are in addition to the regular East End service. Check out the Montauk Branch and Ronkonkoma Branch schedules for further information.

Package tickets may be purchased at gray, green or blue ticket machines and at open ticket offices. All ticket machines accept credit and debit cards; gray and green machines also accept cash. Select "Deals &Getaways," then "Beach Getaways" followed by the package of your choice. Open ticket offices accept cash, personal checks, credit and debit cards.

For additional information and a copy of the Beach Packages brochure customers may call the 24-hour LIRR Travel Information Center, in New York City at 718-217-LIRR, in Nassau County at 516-822-LIRR or in Suffolk County at 631-231-LIRR. The Travel Information Center's TDD number for the hearing impaired is 718-558-3022.