Everyone knows that Rhode Island - actually the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations - is the smallest in the USA. But not everyone knows that the state and island that gives it a colloquially abbreviated name are not one and the same. Indeed, the Rhode Island part of the longest state name in America is unofficially called Aquidneck Island to distinguish from the state as a whole. Now that's cleared up, what of Rhode/Aquidneck Island? It is the largest of several in Narragansett Bay, with its southern shore facing the Atlantic Ocean. The area of this well-developed island is 117 sq km (45 sq mi) and it is connected to the mainland by three bridges.
The Newport Bridge goes to Jamestown on nearby Conanicut Island, and thence to the mainland on the western side of the bay. The Mount Hope Bridge in Portsmouth connects the northern side of the island with Bristol. The same area is served by the Sakonnet River Bridge over a narrow saltwater channel to Tiverton. The nearby Stone Bridge was destroyed by Hurricane Carol in 1954. The island is divided into three municipalities - Newport, Middleton and Portsmouth.
The island's population shrank by a fifth in the ten years after the US Navy reorganized its major base at Newport in 1973 but is growing agam, with over half its area now built over as housing demand increases. But wetland and woodland still occupy a third of the island and there is an active preservation society trying to keep it that way. After the naval base, the island's principal revenue generator is tourism. Narragansett Bay is a magnet for visitors and they come to r Rhode/ Aquidneck Island principally for the beaches and coastline, ft enjoying related activities like sailing, kayaking, sailboarding, diving and fishing.
WHEN TO GO
September or October for sensational foliage - the locals even run 'leaf peeper' tours.
HOW TO GET THERE
By road bridge. There is no scheduled airline service to Newport State Airport.
The Newport Cliff Walk from Easton's Beach to Bailey's Beach – wonderful ocean views.
Fort Adams State Park (music lovers note that the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals are held here).
The amazing Green Animals Topiary Gardens in Portsmouth.
Sachuest point US Fish & Wildlife Preserve in Middleton.
Wine tasting at Newport Vineyards in Middleton or Greenvale vineyards in Portsmouth.
YOU SHOULD KNOW
Polo playing has long been an Island tradition and matches can still be seen at the Glen, Portsmouth.