The most popular beaches on the South Coast  are Narragansett Town Beach (Ocean Ave., Narragansett), known for its surfing and summer crowds, and Misquamicut Beach (257 Atlantic Ave., Misquamicut, 401/596-9097, www.misquamicut.org ), which attracts a Baywatch-like beach scene of randy college students.
Quieter Charlestown Town Beach (557 Charlestown Beach Rd., Charlestown, 401/364-1208) has a wide swath of yellow sand and crashing surf, while Roger Wheeler State Beach (Rte. 108, Narragansett, 401/789-3563), overlooking the fishing boat traffic around Point Judith, is one of the prettiest spots of sand in the state.
Family-friendly Watch Hill Beach (Bay St., Watch Hill, 401/348-6007) includes restrooms and changing facilities; from there, it is also possible to walk out to Napatree Point, known for its quiet seclusion and bird- watching.
The wilderness jewel of the south coast, Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge occupies the former home of a naval base (Charlestown, 401/364-9124, www.fws.gov ) with more than 3,000 acres of unspoiled tidal bays full of shore birds and bioluminescent sea organisms behind a protective barrier beach.
Next door, the town-owned Ninigret Park is home to the Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory (61 Park Ln., Charlestown, 401/364-9508, www.frostydrew.org ), which provides nightly displays of some of the darkest skies in Southern New England.
A linear trail running the length of western Rhode Island , the unimaginatively named North–South Trail (www.rigreenways.org ) takes in 75 miles of streambeds, rocky hillsides, and abandoned foundations of 17th- and 18th-century homes. The trail starts at Ninigret Pond; maps are available from the Greenways Alliance of Rhode Island or the state department of transportation (Two Capitol Hill, Providence, 401/222-2450, www.dot.state.ri.us ).
The Kayak Center of Rhode Island (9 Phillips St., Wickford, 401/295-4400, www.kayakcentre.com ) runs kayak rentals and tours into Narragansett Bay from its waterfront location in Wickford; it also has an outlet in Charlestown (562 Charlestown Beach Rd., 401/364-8000). For deep-sea fishing, the Frances Fleet (401/783-4988, www.francesfleet.com ) runs boats out of Galilee. Anglers engage in surf-fishing right off of Charlestown Beachway State Beach; stop by Breachway Bait & Tackle (166 Charlestown Beach Rd., Charlestown, 401/364-6407) for supplies.
More than 750 campsites are available at Burlingame State Park (Rte. 1, Charlestown, 401/322-7994, www.riparks.com/burlgmcamp.htm ), which also has five cabins and a yurt, and facilities for boating and swimming on Watchaug Pond.