Napatree Point, Westerly, RI, is located in the south western part of this exclusive Rhode Island town.
It is a 1.5 mile barrier of sand that starts at the Watch Hill business district in Westerly and separates the Little Narragansett Bay from the Ocean. It is a wildlife refuge and ecological preserve.
Locals come here frequently to swim at the public beach here as well as for bird watching as a variety of species can be found here throughout the year. There is no charge for admission. There are no services whatsoever available along this beach.
Both the Napatree Beach and Point are under the joint management of the Watch Hill Conservancy and the Park Commission of the Watch Hill Fire District. In 2007, they hired wardens to protect against human disregard for measures to protect the area.
There are marked areas for crossing the dunes and even there visitors are asked to be careful to not disturb the plant life. This is considered one of the most valuable dune habitats in the state of Rhode Island. Visitors should also be advised that the area flora is infested with ticks.
Napatree Point, Westerly, RI beach and dunes are marked off with ropes to indicate bird nesting areas. Authorities ask that these areas be avoided by people and by their pets.
Dogs are allowed in the area on the beach between May 1st and Labor Day, between 6 PM and 8 PM as well as in the off season. They must be kept on their leashes at all times.
Guided nature walks are led here on Saturday mornings between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Shell fishing in the area is not permitted, nor is the use of glass containers or the consumption of alcoholic beverages or lighting of fires.
It is prohibited to approach Napatree Point, Westerly, RI, in motorized boats. No such prohibition exists however for kayaks and canoes which can reveal a different perspective on the rich variety of wildlife found here.
Among the birds found here are the federally protected Piping Plovers as well as Osprey and dozens of others.
Prior to 1815 Napatree was far from the sandy environment it is today. It was covered with trees. That year however the worst hurricane to hit New England struck the area and is said to have literally stripped it bear. After that the beach and dune environment that there is today began to develop.
A US fort, Fort Mansfield, was built at the end of Napatree in 1898. It was one of several built to defend the Long Island Sound. After WWI it was abandoned. Later, a series of cottages were built here with a yacht club and minimal resort facilities but in the 1930s they were destroyed.
Today the Conservancy and the town are committed to preserving the natural habitat that has evolved here.