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Long Island Beach Guide 2012

There are dozens of beaches on Long Island to choose on any given sunny day. Find out which one matches your mood with this comprehensive guide.

They’re the prize of Long Island, the sandy beaches that line the South Shore or the rocky seaside that calls the calm waters of the Long Island Sound home.

Places such as Jones Beach, Robert Moses State Park and any one of the dozens of Hamptons beaches attract visitors by the thousands, from locals enjoying one the Island's biggest attractions to the to out-of-towners who come to catch a few waves at these world-class beaches.

But with all that splendor, how’s a person to choose where to pitch their umbrellas in the sand?

Patch’s Long Island Beach Guide is here to help. We’ve got a detailed breakdown of every major beach, from the nitty-gritty details of fees, hours and parking to the reasons why locals love these seaside attractions so much.

All summer long Patch will feature engaging stories about these local treasures that enhance the beach experience, from the story behind some of the Island’s best cabanas to glimpses into what it takes to be lifeguards on Long Island.

In addition, if you have great photos of any of these beaches, then click through to the beach listings and add them to our galleries.

Enjoy the guide, and, above all, have an amazing and safe time at the beach.

SOUTH SHORE

Nassau County

Long Beach – The city has “beach” in its name, so you know the surf has to be good. One of Long Island’s only cities, Long Beach is driven by the beach. Its best-known stretch, Ocean Beach Park, is a haven for quasi-urban surfers and local beachgoers who want a great beach experience and is lined by a 2.2-mile boardwalk that offers a host of eateries and shops. Both locals and visitors must buy a seasonal beach pass to enter the beach regularly, otherwise the daily rate is $12 for entry.

Long Beach isn’t the only beach on this barrier island. To the west sits the resident-only East Atlantic Beach and the members-only Silver Point Beach Club and The Sands at Atlantic Beach, while county and town beaches to the east include Lido Beach, Sands Picnic Beach and the Eugene Nickerson Beach in the hamlet of Lido Beach and Point Lookout at the far end of the island.

Jones Beach State Park – Perhaps the first beach that jumps to mind when mentioning Long Island beaches, Jones Beach attracts thousands to its sandy stretches each year. Close proximity to New York City makes it an easy day trip for urban beachgoers, but locals are also in love with the state-run beach that features boardwalks, food, several pools, a pitch and putt golf course and a museum. Another major selling point: The Nikon Theater at Jones Beach brings world-class concerts to this storied seaside.

Tobay Beach – Located just east of Jones Beach, Tobay Beach offers visitors a more toned-down experience while still offering great features including a marina, restaurants, concession stands, mini golf and a spray park. Tobay Beach is managed by the Town of Oyster Bay (which is how it gets its name) and is only open to non-residents Monday-Friday for a $40 daily fee.

Western Suffolk County

Robert Moses State Park – Perhaps the most pristine and peaceful of the state-run beaches, Robert Moses State Park offers seaside serenity like no other. Visitors can explore five miles of sandy shores on the Fire Island beach as well as several nature trails to the east giving walkers a chance to gawk at the seabirds and famed Fire Island deer that call the park home. But as well as the beach, Robert Moses features a historic lighthouse, a pitch and putt golf course, concession stands at the five fields and a new playground to entertain the kids.

Cedar Beach – A quiet Atlantic beach managed by the Town of Babylon, Cedar Beach offers a concession stand, basketball and handball courts and a pitch and putt golf course. It’s also next to Gilgo State Park, a wildlife preserve that’s only accessible by foot or four-wheel vehicle. Non-resident fees for Cedar Beach are $15 weekdays and $25 on weekends and holidays.

Gilgo Beach – A longer stretch of beach than Cedar to the west, Gilgo has fewer amenities than its neighbor but makes up for it in serenity. While a small community of beach houses abuts the beach, non-locals can park and visit for $30 a weekend and $40 on weekends and holidays. Recently, Gilgo has picked up some notoriety due to a string of bodies found nearby that officials think may have been left by a serial killer.

Captree State Park – This state-run park is at the end of Jones Beach Island, tucked just behind where Fire Island and Robert Moses State Park begin. As a result, the beach there features calmer waters that make it a perfect spot for fishing off the piers or hiring a charter boat to take you out for the day. Sandy trails, picnic areas and restaurant make it a great spot when you’re not in the mood for a busy beach.

Heckscher State Park – While not technically an “ocean” beach, Heckscher’s sandy shores on the Great South Bay are nothing to scoff at. While, the calm bay waters make for great swimming, fishing and boating, Heckscher’s sheer size as a park means there are many other things to do, including hiking or biking through the nearly 1,500 acres, playgrounds and athletic fields perfect for getting large groups together for a friendly summer game. A concession area and a swimming pool also abut the beach, though the pool is closed for 2012.

Fire Island National Seashore – Some of Fire Island’s largest stretches of beach are part of the National Park Service’s domain, including the Fire Island wilderness, nearly 1,400 acres of untouched beachfront that attracts die-hard hikers, campers and nature enthusiasts. Meanwhile, Sailors Haven/Sunken Forest has one of the park’s main attractions, a below-sea-level holly forest that’s a haven for coastal wildlife. The secluded Barret Beach/Talisman area features a marina and a quiet beach for visitors looking for a serene seaside experience. The Fire Island Lighthouse to the west is part of the national park, but consider yourself warned (or tipped off), the nearby Lighthouse Beach is, ahem, clothing optional.

Fire Island Beaches – The storied secluded communities of Fire Island are legendary on the East Coast for their no-cars policy, gay-friendly attractions, diverse clubs and eateries, and pristine beaches where a bathing suit is not always required. Communities such as Kismet, Cherry Grove, Fire Island Pines, Atlantique, Seaview and Fair Harbor each has a specific charm and a stretch of white sand all their own. Ferry service from Bay Shore, Sayville and Patchogue can get you on the Island at different parts, but if you are an adventurous, and well-conditioned hiker, the walk from Robert Moses Field 5 to Kismet is a doable, but grueling.

Smith Point County Park – The last of the large Long Island Beaches before you hit the Hamptons, Smith Point is usually the beach of choice for residents in the goliath Brookhaven Town in the mood for a lazy day at the beach. The Suffolk County-run beach, in addition to offering great surf, concessions, fishing and campsites for those who want to spend a night sleeping on the beach, abuts the Fire Island Wilderness, 1,380 acres of trails and campgrounds that are part of the Fire Island National Seashore.

THE HAMPTONS

While the western Long Island beaches are great, world-class, even, the beaches on the South Fork stretching from West Hampton Dunes to Montauk are a rare breed, marked by rolling waves and soft sand set in front of some of the most dramatic real estate in the United States. Since the region has dozens of beaches, each unique, please click through to each expanded directory listing for more details. Fees and permits vary depending what village and town or village manages the beach. In many cases, parking permits are only available to locals, but taxi options and walk-ons give visitors the opportunity to enjoy the beaches.

Westhampton - Hampton Bays

Beaches in this stretch are part of the Westhampton Island, a barrier island like Fire Island to the West. In this case, Dune Road runs the length of it, from the quiet of West Hampton Dunes, the party-heavy Westhampton Beach and ending at Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays at the gateway to the Hamptons.

Quogue Village Beach – One of the quietest beaches on Dune Road west of the Shinnecock Canal, Quogue Village beach is low-key, with a playground and a concession stand to go with the perfect sand.

Cupsogue Beach – This Suffolk County park is a local paradise, with long sandy beaches, a cabana, hiking trails, four-wheel access, free Wi-Fi and the chance to spot local seals sunning on sandbars.

Lashley Beach – Managed by the Village of Westhampton, Lashley is offers a local hideaway and surfing spot that far less rowdy than the shores at the Dune Deck Beach Resort nearby.

Ponquogue Beach – This beach, run by the Town of Southampton, is another local gem, stretching to the end of the barrier island. Beach, surf, concessions and showers are available, but the family atmosphere is what attracts most. It’s a gorgeous spot.

Tiana Beach – Another county-run beach, but this ones has a few different faces. By day it’s lazy and family oriented, but with the nearby clubs Tiana can become a lot more spirited as the day rolls on.

Meschutt Beach County Park – Being on the interior of the Shinnecock Bay brings still water to this county beach. Camping, boating and bathing are great here, and so is the seafood served at the Meschutt Beach Hut.

Southampton

Southampton’s beaches are pristine, with heavyweights Cooper’s and Main Beach often scoring top ranks in national polls. Permits and fees can depend on which municipality is running the beach and a few offer daily passes, often only on weekdays. Either way, the scenery is like no other, with perfect dunes and picturesque estates stretching for miles.

Shinnecock East County Park – The only county beach in Southampton, Shinnecock East is actually the westernmost beach on The Hamptons coast. A major fishing spot, Shinnecock highlights its undeveloped scenery. Southampton

Southampton Town

Sagg Main Beach – This might be perfect Hamptons beach setting, with few features to get in the way of the scenery. Perhaps that’s why droves of seasonal visitors tend to choose this beach. Every other Monday evening during the summer, Sagg Main Beach is the site of a large drum circle, with other spectacles like the occasional visit from fire dancers.

Mecox Beach – This Bridgehampton beach offers endless sand, and limited amenities. The setting is enough.

Flying Point Beach – If you aren’t local, be sure to make arrangements to get to this Water Mill Beach since no daily passes are available. Incredibly scenic, with the dramatic Channel Pond behind the beach and the Water Mill beach Club nearby.

Long Beach Park (Foster Memorial Town Beach) – Located in the hamlet of Noyac, Long Beach Park brings the expected calm of a bay beach, with still waters that are great for boating and fishing. On a narrow strip of land popular with sunbathers, it is a safe and scenic route for cyclists.

Southampton Village

Coopers Beach – Selected by "Dr. Beach" in 2010 as America’s best beach and, more recently, by National Geographic Traveler as the No. 2 family beach, Coopers is definitely a local champion. The only village beach with lifeguards, Cooper’s also gives visitors the option to rent chairs and umbrellas and has a complete concession stand to keep visitors well fed and hydrated. Grassy dunes, soft sand, and stately mansions dot the horizon at Coopers. And if the parking fee is too steep, the bike ride from Southampton Village isn’t so bad. The newly launched SpotRide will take you there for free.

The rest of Southampton Village beaches each offer their own slice of the coast, and in many cases give locals and returning seasonal guests serene getaways from the often crowded “scenes” at some of the more notable beaches in Southampton. Summer-long permits are required at Fowler Beach, Cryder Beach, Road G Beach, Halsey Neck Beach, Wyandanch Beach, Gin Beach, Little Plains Beach and Old Town Beach while no permit is required at Road D Beach.

Sag Harbor Village

Havens Beach – For fans of North Fork Beaches, Sag Harbor’s Havens Beach is your typical scenic Peconic Bay treasure, with views of sailboats on the smooth bay waters and Shelter Island’s coast in the distance.

East Hampton - Montauk

The riches of Hamptons beaches continues into East Hampton, where the sands, waves and the mansions tend to swell as you move East. But cross into Montauk and the surf clubs and swank scenes start to change until you at last hit Camp Hero with its miles of wilderness, bluffs and the Montauk Lighthouse at The End. For East Hampton and Montauk beaches, fees and accessibility depend on who runs them, but services such as Hamptons Free Ride can help visitors without permits get on the beaches.

Camp Hero State Park – The end of Long Island, Camp Hero is a wilderness like no other, with interior trails frequented by hikers, bikers and horseback riders, a museum, the historic Montauk Point Lighthouse and steep, dramatic bluffs that fall into the rough Atlantic Ocean. State park fees apply on the weekends, but the park is open for free during the week. A very popular spot for surf casting, too.

East Hampton Village

Main Beach – Easily the most visited beach in East Hampton, Main Beach offers a full pavilion with food and drinks, piping plover nests and grassy dunes along a stretch of beach that yearly attracts droves for its perfect vantage point to watch the Labor Day fireworks. It can definitely get crowded, though.

Georgica Beach – Normally a peaceful beach for visitors who want less hub-bub, devastating erosion from Hurricane Irene has left this beach closed while officials work to replenish the sand and fix the damage.

Wiborg Beach – Located right near the Maidstone Club, the tucked-away and very scenic Wiborg has long been a favorite of surfers. However, there are no bathrooms or lifeguards here, though approvals for lifeguards are in the works.

Egypt Beach – On the other side of the Maidstone Club, Egypt is a bit more rugged than its neighbor Wiborg, but locals know it as one of the best places to catch the sunset. No lifeguards, though.

Two Mile Hollow Beach – A large parking lot with a daily rate makes this beautiful beach another often visited attraction. Not much by way of amenities, but very relaxing.

East Hampton Town

Indian Wells Beach – While the sand and surf are big draws here, as well as the family friendly atmosphere and volleyball courts, the row of food trucks that park there give this beach a unique draw. Surfers love it, too.

Ditch Plains – Another beach loved by locals and visitors alike, Ditch Plains is a huge favorite of surfers. Only two miles from the heart of Montauk, the beach also has beautiful cliffs that stand out in a region where sand dunes are more common to find on the beach.

Like Ditch Plains and Indian Wells, lifeguards can also be found at ocean beaches such as Atlantic Beach in Amagansett, Kirk Park Beach in Montauk and Edison Beach in Montauk while unprotected and still incredibly scenic beaches include Little Albert’s Landing in Amagansett Lazy Point in Amagansett, South Lake in Montauk, Beach Lane in Wainscott and Townline Road Beach in Wainscott. Kirk Park offers a daily rate on weekdays.

The town also has a few bay beaches that offer calmer waters for young swimmers and spectacular boating and fishing. Those are Albert’s Landing in Amagansett, Gin Beach in Montauk and Maidstone Park in Springs.

NORTH SHORE

Nassau County

North Hempstead Beach Park – At this 60-acre park, you'll find a sandy beach and a promenade for residents who want to walk along the waterfront. There's also a fishing pier, boat ramp, bathhouse and concession area, along with basketball, handball and paddleball courts. This spot is also popular with beach volleyball players and for its Sunday summer concerts.

Sands Point Park and Preserve – This might be the only Long Island beach that has the distinction of having a castle (unless you count some of those Hamptons mansions). Once the home of the Guggenheim family, Sands Point was taken over by Nassau County and these days offers educational programs, a museum and acres of hiking trails through woods, along a pond and a nearly one-mile stretch of shoreline, complete with bluffs and rocky sands. Fees are $5 per car or $2 for walk-ons.

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and Beach – A Syossett staple run by the town of Oyster Bay, Theodore Roosevelt offers great North Shore bathing as well as walking trails, picnic areas, and a wide array of sports fields and courts for outdoor gaming in the summer. Daily rate is $15 a day if you don't have a town sticker.

Western Suffolk County

Sunken Meadow State Park – The jewel of the North Shore, Sunken Meadow has just about every dramatic natural feature you want in a Long Island Sound park. Three miles of beach, amazing tidal flats, salt marshes and huge glacial bluffs overlooking the waters are just a few features that draw thousands each year. Hikers and bikers have six miles of trails to navigate, while less adventurous folk would be happy just to stroll the boardwalk. As for boaters, the park offers launches for canoes, kayaks and fishing boats.

Long Beach - Short Beach - Callahan’s Beach – The Town of Smithtown’s three main beaches each offer something unique. Long Beach features a long rocky stretch of beach and dramatic bluffs, with a playground and a nature preserve, while Short Beach is more compact, with a campgrounds and sand flats at low tide. Callahan’s, although, offers the calm waters and rocky coast associated with Long Island Sound beaches, but sits behind dramatic bluffs that tower over the water.

West Meadow Beach – A local treasure for North Brookhaven locals, West Meadow has undergone a transformation in the years since the cottages that used to line it were knocked down. The natural beauty, however, hasn’t changed. Locals come for long walking trails, kayaking in the salt marshes behind the beach, the endless sand flats at low tide and the best sunsets on the Sound given the beach’s western facing. Town of Brookhaven residents must buy a seasonal beach pass, but non-locals will have to pay the $20 daily parking fee.

Cedar Beach – This Port Jefferson/Mount Sinai beach is a haven for locals of these North Shore communities offering sailor’s a quick entry into the rolling waters of the Long Island Sound. The rocky beach also provides a great place to pitch an umbrella and look off into the horizon. Town of Brookhaven residents must buy a seasonal beach pass, but non-locals will have to pay the $20 daily parking fee.

Wildwood State Park – Like other large North Shore park, Wading River’s Wildwood park features rocky beaches, nature trails, dramatic bluffs and scenic spots for a picnic overlooking the Sound. But where Wildwood sets itself apart is in the camping options on the property. Reservations are required, but once booked visitors can spend a few days enjoying the 600 acres and enjoying weekly activities such as an outdoor movie and square dancing.

North Fork

North Fork beaches generally are of two kinds. On one hand you have the rocky shore and bluffs that line its border with the Long Island Sound while the south shores are those of the Peconic and Gardiner’s Bays, which is home to great boating and fishing.

Orient Point County Park – This Suffolk County park marks the end of the North Fork at Orient Point. Nature trails in woods and along the Long Island Sound and the Peconic Bay give visitors the best of both shores. At the same time, the view of the Orient Point Lighthouse from the tip is as close as you can get without taking a boat.

Orient Beach State Park – Meanwhile, Orient Beach State Park is a preserved slice of sandy beach and cedar forest on Gardiner’s Bay. It’s a kayaker’s heaven, though the playground and concession stands make it a great place for a family day on the beach.

Truman's Beach – Maintained by the Orient-East Marion Park district, this stretch of shore along the Sound is flanked by a huge tidal wetlands.

New Suffolk Beach – One of the more popular beaches on the Peconic Bay, New Suffolk is also one of the few with lifeguards. Like many North Fork beaches, it’s a big draw for boaters and fishermen.

Breakwater Beach and Park – A large Long Island Sound beach in Mattituck, Breakwater is perhaps known best for its beach volleyball and several protected piping plover nests.

Southold Town Beach – What’s great about this beach is if you can just pull up and take in the amazing Long Island Sound view without leaving your car since the lot is so close to the water, which also makes it a frequent victim of erosion. But if you do choose to visit longer, the quiet beach and distant bluffs won’t disappoint.

Goldsmith Inlet Park – Rock jetties and sunsets, that’s why people come to Goldsmith in Peconic. The scenic wetlands around Goldsmith Pond also make a great backdrop for birdwatchers and photographers. But if you see one sunset on Long Island, make it here.

Vincent June 01, 2012 at 10:40 AM
Dee Jay: Yeah I remember. I spent a couple weeks each summer at my grandparent's summer bungalow there and had a great time at the beach and running down the cliff. They really named that place right. So many rocks on the beach you had to wear combat boots. ; )
K. June 19, 2012 at 08:42 PM
"Splinter Beach" - my back deck.
Dana Kalbacher June 19, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Swim near a lifeguard...
bchbum11968 June 20, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Excellent reminder!!!!!!
Neil July 05, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Helpful post. For an in depth look at the 40 Beaches of East Hampton (including Montauk) check this blog out: http://maidstonejewelry.wordpress.com/40-beaches-of-east-hampton/

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