Ever since I was a little girl, my home away from home as been the Hamptons. My family’s beach bungalow is a shoes-optional escape from the maddening New York City pace. Unlike what you read in the gossip magazines, my version of the Hamptons is less glitz and glam, more beaches and sand. From Westhampton to Montauk, this easternmost tip of Long Island has miles of beautiful coastline. Whether you're looking for big surf, bold sunsets, or sprawling white-sand stretches, there is a beach for you, and these are some of my personal favorites.
If you ask any New Yorker where to surf, they’ll likely point you in the direction of Montauk, and more specifically, Ditch Plains beach. It’s a legendary surf spot where die-hard surfers brave cold temperatures year-round for a chance to catch a good wave. In the summer, the surf is crowded with pros and newbies, paddleboarders and old-school surfers, and loads of onlookers along the beach.
Drive due south of Southampton Village past the impeccably manicured hedges and charming tree-lined streets and you’ll hit Coopers Beach along Meadow Lane. It’s flanked on each side by some of the most high-profile real estate in the Hamptons, but the beach itself is usually quite empty and relaxed. The US$40-per-day parking fee may have something to do with that!
I couldn’t create a list of top Hamptons beaches without including Sag Harbor’s stretch of beach adjacent to the marina, called Havens Beach. After window-shopping through this one-time whaling village, you can pick up a freshly prepared lobster roll at The Dock House along the wharf and enjoy a picnic right on the beach as you watch the yachts and sailboats cruise in and out.
Viewfinder Tip: Long Beach is great for families, as the water is quite shallow (albeit a tad rocky).
Shadmoor State Park
One of the most striking beaches in the Hamptons is Montauk’s Shadmoor State Park. The beach’s dramatic clay bluffs and sweeping panoramic views of the Atlantic make a stellar backdrop to your perfect summer beach day. Don’t forget your camera. You’ll definitely want some beach selfies at this one!
While Ditch Plains and Coopers Beach are on the Atlantic Ocean, Foster Memorial Beach (a.k.a. Long Beach) is a stretch of sand along the calmer waters of Noyac Bay. You won’t find big surf here, but you will be treated to some spectacular sunsets and breezy conditions that are perfect for windsurfing.
If camping and fishing are your idea of the perfect beach day, you can do both at Cedar Point in East Hampton. This park expands over 607 acres nestled along Gardiners Bay. Here you’ll find much more than just beaches. The Cedar Island Lighthouse was a beacon of reassurance for decades of fishermen and whalers returning to port and is one of the very few remaining lighthouses on Long Island. Cedar Point is also a prime spot for kayaking and hiking.
For more tips on what to do in the Hamptons, watch my new travel show, The Getaway Girls!
Do you have a favorite summer beach spot?