Quonnie, the easier-to-pronounce nickname for Quonochontaug, a beach village in Charlestown, is equal parts location and frame of mind, isolated and off the radar.
Which is just the way summer folks like it — and makes it my favorite place in Rhode Island.
Quonnie’s West Beach is the least populated of three sandy enclaves that comprise the village, the others being named with geographic appropriateness, West and Central.
And village may be drastically overstating it: there are none of the overpriced shops or restaurants commonly found in other areas with gorgeous beaches that have the quaint (and commercial) “village” label attached. There is not much at Quonnie other than summer homes and rentals, occupied in season by families who love the place — most of them native Rhode Islanders. The place is so imbedded in its denizens’ generational foundation it is by now practically an irresistible genetic draw.
Quonnie has humble wooden cottages (though some more garish houses have popped up over the years) sprinkled amidst prickly rosa rugosa, with a tiny beach dotted by wave-splashed outcrops bearing lilting names like Picnic Rock.
Nearby is Quonochontaug Pond, my go-to spot for introspective clamming, armed with nothing but a bullrake and my thoughts, hauling out smaller, hard-shelled mollusks for pre-dinner noshing and fatter ones for briny, brothy chowder. The pond is also home to some of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen.
The best part is just being on Quonnie’s beach, reading, swimming, gazing at the hazy lump of Block Island on the horizon, forgetting about the world and focusing on the place –- and frame of mind — you’re in.