Block Island Voted 2024 Best Harbor in the U.S.

The winning destinations named in US Harbors annual “Best Harbor” contest include several harbors appearing for the first time.
Block Island harbor, Rhode Island
Block Island’s harbor waterfront provides a perfect blend of convenience and charm for sailboaters, making it a favorite stop for those cruising the New England coastline. M.Makela/

The boaters have spoken. US Harbors has announced the winners of its 5th annual contest to find the “Best Harbor” in the U.S., with Block Island taking the 2024 title of Grand Winner. 

The crowd-sourced contest, open to the public for voting, is held online each year. Participants vote on their favorite harbor out of the 1500+ harbors for which US Harbors provides tidal and coastal weather data.

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse at Dawn
Block Island’s Southeast Light was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997, recognizing its architectural significance and role in maritime navigation. The lighthouse is a beautiful example of Victorian Gothic architecture, made of brick with a distinctive octagonal tower. In 1993, the lighthouse was moved approximately 300 feet back from the eroding cliffs to save it from falling into the sea. Today, the tower stands 67 feet tall, and the light itself is 204 feet above sea level, making it one of the most elevated lighthouses in New England. Diane Diederich/

Communities with the most passion for where they live, boat and fish generally end up winning the event, and the 2024 winners include several new harbors that were not previously in the winners’ circle.  

Grand Winner, Best Harbor in the U.S. for 2024: Block Island, RI 

Just a short ferry ride from Rhode Island, Block Island is a beautiful little getaway with rolling hills and lovely beaches. The island’s vibe is relaxed and charming, perfect for biking, hiking, and exploring its stunning nature trails. With nearly half of the island dedicated to conservation, it’s a haven for wildlife and offers spectacular views from spots like Mohegan Bluffs and the iconic Southeast Lighthouse. The main village, Old Harbor, is full of cozy shops, delicious restaurants, and plenty of spots to just sit back and soak in the island’s laid-back atmosphere.

block island boats
Block Island’s Great Salt Pond (New Harbor) is the primary harbor for sailboaters. It’s a well-protected area with calm waters, making it an ideal spot for anchoring and mooring. Numerous moorings are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with some available for reservation. There are also designated anchoring areas. During peak season, it’s advisable to make reservations for moorings and dockage in advance. Brad/

Comments from 2024 Voters About Block Island: 

“I’ve sailed to Block Island from Stamford, CT, for 20 years. I stayed in the Great Salt Pond in one of the three marinas or, if they were full, on a town mooring or at anchor. I fell in love with Block Island and now live here.” —Bennet W. 

“Such a magical spot! We love it so much we’re getting married there in August!” —Luke B.

Long wooden staircase leading down to the beach at Mohegan Bluff
Block Island’s scenic trails and bike paths offer a great way to explore beyond the harbor. Just a short walk from the Southeast Lighthouse, the dramatic 150-foot clay cliffs of Mohegan Bluffs offer stunning views and a challenging stairway down to a secluded beach. Eric Dale Creative/

“Because of the efforts of the Block Island community and a strong environmental ethic, along with the support of environmental groups, the Great Salt Pond remains protected and a treasure of nature.” —Douglas M. 

“Best Boating overnight harbor, period!” —Richard C.  

North lighthouse
Block Island’s North Light is situated at the northern tip of Block Island, at Sandy Point, within the boundaries of the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge. Built in 1867, it is the fourth lighthouse erected on the site due to the challenges of shifting sands and erosion. The lighthouse is open to the public during the summer months. Visitors can explore the museum, which showcases maritime artifacts, historical exhibits, and the original Fresnel lens. Thomas/

2024’s Top 10 Voting Results  

  1. Block Island, RI (also 2024’s Northeast regional winner; first time on winners list)  
  2. Destin, FL (also 2024’s Gulf Coast regional winner; first time on winners list)  
  3. Padanaram, MA (2019 “Best Harbor” Grand Winner)
  4. Bristol, RI (first time on winners list)
  5. Shelter Cove, Hilton Head, NC (also 2024’s Southeast regional winner, and Southeast regional winner in 2022 and 2021)  
  6. Pillar Point, Princeton, CA (2024’s Pacific Coast regional winner; first time on winners list)  
  7. Gloucester, MA (first time on winners list)  
  8. Charlevoix, MI (2021 “Best Harbor” Grand Winner; also 2024’s Great Lakes regional winner)
  9. Brookings, OR (first time on winners list)  
  10. DepoeBay, OR (2022 “BestHarbor” Grand Winner)

Other 2024 Regional Winners:  

Oyster Bay, NY (2024’s Mid-Atlantic regional winner)