Jamestown is located on Conanicut Island along the southern coast of Rhode Island, accessible from either Newport or Narragansett by bridge. You may not have heard of Jamestown because it's often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor - Newport - home of the elaborate summer mansions of the United States' wealthiest families like the Vanderbilts, Astors and Weideners. While Newport is definitely worth a visit for its history, opulence and charm, Jamestown is worth visiting for its outdoor activities, laid back vibe, and tasty shrimp tacos. More on those tacos later.
One of my old friends from Google, Beth, had moved to Jamestown several years ago and now owns a surf shop called Jamestown Outdoors where one can rent bikes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards and surf boards. We arrived late Saturday morning and stopped by the shop where we caught up with Beth, her husband Jason and two adorable daughters, Kailah and Maren. Jamestown Outdoors recently opened retail space on Narragansett Ave - the main commercial street - making it a perfect place to pick up and drop off bikes because you can visit the nearby shops and restaurants before or after your ride. If you end up renting a house on the island, Jamestown Outdoors will deliver and pick up equipment, so you can explore the island by land or water throughout the entire duration of your trip.
[Pictured Above] Jamestown Outdoors owner, Beth. One of the nicest people you will ever meet! [Pictured Below] Jamestown Outdoors surf shop interior. How cute is that sign?!
The t-shirts were delightfully soft so Chis bought one and now he wears it all the time (It's already been to Costa Rica)!
Outside the shop along Narragansett Ave are charming stores, restaurants and this quaint firehouse:
Beth gave us a map and recommended a few routes. We chose a 13-mile hilly route that brought us to The Shack at Dutch Harbor, Mackerel Cove, Beavertail State Park & Lighthouse, Hull Beach and Fort Wetherill State Park. Here is the approximate route we took:
By the time we arrived in Jamestown, we were starving and needed to fuel up before our long bike ride. Beth highly recommended the tacos at The Shack. Mexican food and tacos are probably my favorite food genre. Since really good tacos are hard to find in New England, I was expecting The Shack to be okay. I totally underestimated it! This place serves the most phenomenal shrimp taco I've ever had. Now those of you partial to really spicy tacos may be a bit disappointed, but if you are seeking flavor and fresh ingredients then you will find it here. It's a MUST if you ever visit Jamestown and well worth going out of your way for if you are anywhere in Rhode Island, southern Massachusetts or eastern Connecticut. Who knew my favorite taco would be in Rhode Island?!?!
The small, but mighty Shack:
Get excited, because here is a picture of my half eaten shrimp taco. I don't often photograph my food, however, I had to capture the moment after the first bite. Notice I also ordered a veg taco which was tasty, but paled in comparison to the shrimp.
After The Shack, we rode across Mackerel Cove and onto the southern part of the island. After a few challenging hills (for me anyway), we rode down to the southern most point to see Beavertail Lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses in New England.
[Pictured Above] Compass rose over the foundation of the original lighthouse. The original lighthouse was destroyed by a hurricane in 1938. [Pictured Below] One of many couples picnicking by the the lighthouse. This area is also popular for weddings. We witnessed two outdoor weddings on our way back.
On our way back up the south island, we stopped off at Hull Cove, which is a popular spot for surfing. It was low tide when we arrived which meant no surfing. However, low tide exposed the spectacular colors of the ocean floor. Check it out:
Needless to say, I was one happy photographer :)
Toward the end of our ride we wandered through residential areas with beautiful homes. Some, like the one below, were as big as the mansions in Newport:
Other homes were architecturally interesting, like this circular house built into a rock.
As we rode back to town, we saw signs for scuba diving lessons at Fort Wetherill State Park. We followed the signs to this lovely little cove where divers, swimmers and sunbathers gathered:
Upon looking in the other direction, we noticed a "No Swimming" sign. Clearly it was a rule that was not being enforced because scofflaws of all ages were enjoying the water. We also saw a group of scuba divers emerge from the water and thought this might be a good place to try our first New England dive (if I can ever get the courage to swim in the cold water).
By the end of our ride, we were exhausted and pretty sweaty. We dropped off our bikes at the shop and headed back to Boston for a shower and a big dinner (that, sadly, was not shrimp tacos from The Shack). Big thanks to Beth & Jason from Jamestown Outdoors for holding a pair of bikes for us and for all your insights on the island!
Eva has been traveling for 15+ years, including an 8 month journey around the world.