A Summer Escape on Prudence Island (RI)

Article by Contributor Tricia Bielinski

Last summer, feeling the need to escape my overly articulate, conference call-laden life, I rented a house on Prudence Island for two weeks.  It was a true restorative pause and one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken.

Prudence is the third largest island in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay.  A 30-minute ferry ride from Bristol will deposit you and your vehicle at the “heart” of this seven-mile square-foot escape.  Home to just about 80 homes (about half of those homes are full-time residents), Prudence is short on manufactured entertainment and long on relaxation.  You will not find a restaurant, though you can get a breakfast sandwich at the small market in the ferry parking lot.  Nor will you find a bar, hotel, cafe, or movie theatre.  Instead, you’ll find peace and solace as a result of beautiful morning walks, hikes on the island’s 13 miles of trails, and panoramic access to the navy waters of the bay where you can swim, kayak, paddleboard, and boat.

Faced with that much time on an underdeveloped island, I arrived prepared.  I had a stack of “I’ll get to it” books, a deck of cards, my yoga mat, and groceries. After unpacking and settling into our renovated 1950s cottage it became clear to me while looking out at the water from our screened in porch, the view disrupted only by our two Adirondack chairs and fire pit, I was now on “island time”. 

So what does one do when on Prudence for a week or more?  Ride your bike out to Farnham Farm for some of the juiciest blueberries you’ll ever have to put in your pancakes the next morning.  Stop on your way at the island’s “Farmacy” where in place of aspirin will find a host of locally grown produce, honey, and freshly baked goods, all on the honor system.  You will delight at the quaint one-room grade school across the road, built in the late 1800s for the few year-round children of school age.

If you have access to a boat you can spend the afternoon island hopping and head over to Patience Island just a stone’s throw away with a picnic lunch and cold libations.  If you’re feeling the need to be in a social setting, pull your boat up to the Boat House in Tiverton, about a 15-minute ride over from Prudence.  Just be sure to get there early the spots go fast at this popular lunch and dinner spot!

Many of the homes have water views, with just a handful built more inland.  Bring that stack of books you’ve been meaning to get started on and put on some quiet jazz to wile away an afternoon immersed in a good read.  You’ll look up not to check the time, but to watch the cruising boats and wave to fellow islanders passing by (it’s an unspoken rule on Prudence, everyone waves).

Bring all of your provisions and prepare perfect leisurely summertime meals.  I highly recommend any visitors should pay their way into your exclusive Prudence home by purchasing the sweetest lobster sold at Blount Clam Shack, close by to the ferry landing in Bristol.  For ice and other basics, the market carries most of what you would need but is typically open only when the ferry is coming in and out, so keep a schedule handy.

If a day trip is more your speed, you can get around on a bike without issue.  The roads are half paved and half dirt, but easy to pass on.  Not to completely scare off the screen inclined, there is electricity and Wi-Fi in most houses and even televisions. 

Do yourself a favor though, put down the remote and enjoy the sounds of summer and wild beauty all around you.

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