EXPLORING BULLS ISLAND
WITH YOUNG KIDS
Oh, what fun (if you're prepared)!
Bring only what you need
"Don't overpack. The beach is a mile-and-a-half from the boat landing and you'll have to carry-or drag- it there yourself. Add in a child that will inevitably want to be held at intervals, and you've got a long day. On the half-day excursion I took yesterday with Olivia, I packed a backpack with a beach blanket, full change of clothes for her, insulated lunch bag with food, water bottle, sunscreen and insect spray. In hindsight, I wish that I had brought some wet wipes (a runny nose on a sandy beach is not a good look for a toddler) and an extra pair of shoes for her in case hers had gotten wet (they didn't)."
Wear the right clothing
The real risks on Bulls Island? Sunburn, ant bites and mosquitoes. "When you go to the island, don't dress like its a beach day, dress for hiking: Long pants, long sleeve shirt, hat and a bandana. You can layer with bathing suits for your beach time, but you don't want your little one to be a magnet for insect bites as they transverse the island in a tank top. I like a lightweight windbreaker with a hood as the top layer for her.
Talk to the captain and mate before you leave the boat
It can be daunting to take your young family to a wilderness area for the first time-- especially one that is a few miles offshore! Capt. Wil and the naturalist mate, Nick, can help you with questions you have about the island and give you great advice about the best route to take based on the weather and tides.
Take the fastest route to the beach
Beach Road takes you from the boat landing across the island to the beach. Along the way, you'll pass through several different ecosystems and landmarks- maritime forest, freshwater impoundments, the Dominick House- so you'll get a broad exposure to the island without wearing yourselves out. "Once we get to the beach, I usually find a protected nook, lay down a blanket and let Olivia go. It gives us about an hour and a half to beach comb, play in the surf and enjoy a beachside picnic. It's heaven, really, to be at a beach where we are the only ones. It's beyond relaxing."
Don't overdo it
"For most of the year, the ferry has two departures every day that it runs. Typically, I'll take Olivia on the morning ferry so that we can be home in time for an afternoon nap. Chris and I have a personal mantra to 'leave while we're all still having a good time,' and with a toddler, that means getting home before they fall apart."
"The more you go to the island, the easier it gets-- and the more you'll want to go."