By Christopher White
In Plain Sight
Though often overlooked by summer cruisers on their way to Newport, Jamestown, Rhode Island, is right across the bay, a hidden gem with plenty to offer.
For those of you who have strolled down Newport, Rhode Island’s, mansion-lined Bellevue Avenue, or sipped on a Dark ’n Stormy on the docks, you probably know at least two things about Jamestown—it looks nice across the bay and it has bridges on either side that you saw on your way into port, looming above the island. And for many people, that’s about all they know about Jamestown.
Jamestown lives in the shadow of its neighbor when it comes to cruisers visiting the area, but the island has a lot to offer for those looking for a more relaxing stay. What Jamestown lacks in nightlife and mansions it more than makes up for in beautiful beaches, gorgeous scenery, and a laid-back New England feel.
When coming to Jamestown by boat, the place you want to stay is Conanicut Marina, located in the heart of downtown. Once you’ve tied up and settled in and you’re ready to do a little exploring, head up Narragansett Avenue and stop into Jamestown Outdoors. Here you can rent just about anything you might need for some outdoor exploration, including kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and bikes, the best way to take in the island in my opinion.
Take a jaunt out to Fort Wetherill, portions of which date back to the 1700s and the days of British occupation, on the southeast end of the island. Here you’ll have beautiful views of Rhode Island Sound and the boats shuttling in and out of Narragansett Bay (which, on a typical summer day, will run the gamut from old 12-meter America’s Cup yachts to the latest and greatest megayachts and everything in between). Pay a visit to Beavertail State Park and its eponymous lighthouse located on the southernmost tip of the island, where you can get great views of Brenton Point State Park, Castle Hill Lighthouse, and the houses along Ocean Drive across the mouth of Narragansett Bay.
On your way back to the boat, take a little detour and ditch the bikes on the beach for a swim in Mackerel Cove, where flat water and soft sand are plentiful. (If you’re cruising around the island and are looking for a place to drop the hook and take a dip, Mackerel Cove offers an anchorage protected from the ocean swell and good holding ground.)
As the sun starts to head down, enjoy some evening cocktails onboard, which, from the marina, may be the best seat in the house to take in the great view of Clingstone (seen above), the Rose Island Lighthouse, and the sky changing color against the Newport Bridge.