Pros: Sleeping under the stars and listening to the ocean.
Cons: very difficult to get reservations.
Living on Long Island my wife and I like to do some local traveling and camping. One place we often go to is Montauk Point. We have stayed in the area overnight or more at least twenty times. We have stayed in motels on the water, a friends trailer, and in Hither Hills State Park. This can be the best way to relax and get away from it all.
HOW TO GET THERE
Going east on Montauk highway (RT27) after passing Amagansette you will travel some miles on a very straight piece of road. You are actually driving parallel to the Long Island Rail Road tracks. The LIRR goes to the town of Montauk. If you wanted you could take some gear on board, get off in the town Montauk and take a taxi to the park. It's three and a half miles back to the park. There is also the Jittney service that will take you from the city on out by bus.
If you continue driving you will see a split in the road. If you go right onto "old Montauk highway" this will take you right to the park.
FEES and PASSES
There is a $7.00 fee for day use. If you are a New York State resident you can use the Empire pass if you have one. We purchase one every year. It costs $50.00 and is good for the calender year. We always seem to easily make it worth our while. We live just seven minutes from Jones Beach State Park and we go there often. We also go to nearby Robert Moses, and Captree State Parks. When upstate we use it at Lake Taconic State Park. It's a great deal if you take some weekend trips or just go to the beach parks a few times a year. There are many many other wonderful state parks to see using the pass.
The park is a combination of beaches and woods. Many people go there as a day trip to the beach. Some go for the hiking trails near dunes and through the woods, still others are there for camping.
The beach is a typical Long Island type beach except this one is not on a barrier island. This is Long Island itself. It's clean white sand. The park rakes up any excessive seaweed etc. that accumulates and maintains the beach area well. There are picnic areas for day users.
There are life guards during the high season of Memorial Day and Labor Day. Some weekends before and after are monitored by guards also. The ocean can sometimes be as calm as a lake but sometimes can be as rough as any ocean shoreline anywhere. On rough days the guards will not let people in the water. Many people go down to the beach areas when there is a storm at sea. It is awesome looking at the huge waves breaking on the shore!
The parking area is large and we never had a problem getting in. There is a playground for kids and they recently put up a basketball hoop. The grounds have a baseball diamond where pick up games and scheduled soft ball games for campers can be played. A volley ball court is also available to all.
During the summer the parks sets up activities. The have square dancing, and movies. Arts and crafts are also done.
This is a great fishing area. Especially for migratory fish. Permits can be purchased at the nearby Montauk Downs State Park.
There is a concession stand, though small, in the parking area. They sell soups, burgers, dogs, fries and the like. They open at seven AM. Why so early? Because there are lots of people camping at this park. They serve eggs, coffee and other breakfast fare there. The place stays open till about ten pm in season. This is also a general store for the campers.
We were last there about two years ago. In driving through the area very recently I found out they are taking down the main bathhouse and will have a new facility up for next summer. In the mean time the park is still open until November 17th of this year. It will reopen in the spring. In very early spring you can still get in for camping. Here's the bad news. There is no availability for camping anytime next summer between Memorial Day and Labor day. Sorry, this is a very popular 165 site campground and it's already booked. They do allow you to try to get in on a first come first serve basis day to day. You would be taking over a site where somebody decided to leave early. If you live locally it may be worth your time to try and get in. One way is checking it out after a day of rain. Many people have their spirits dampened and will leave early. That's your chance to move in.
The reservation are taken by phone eleven months in advance! The number is 1(800) 456-2267. During the summer they have a one week limit. Before and after the holiday weekends you may stay for two weeks. The fee at all times is 24.00 for NYS residents. and $48.00 for non-residence.
There is a main bathhouse, the one that's coming down and other facilities too. The camping area stretches I would guess a third of a mile. The camping itself is behind the dunes. It is very flat and pretty much a grassy area. They have concrete platforms. You don't need special stakes for your tents but the longer the better especially if there are strong winds off the water. Bring extra rope for extending tent tie downs to the stakes.
The sites are set up in rows parallel to the beach and dunes. One area has three rows, one four rows and the last has five rows.
Each site has a fireplace with a small grill and a table. All the sites are open to each other. Yes, that's right this is a beach, but no palm trees here. No hammocks stretched between. The area is so relaxing though. During the day there are few people at the sites. Most are on the beach, trails, or exploring Montauk Points many sites. Just a reminder the sites are behind the dunes. This means you do not have a view of the ocean from your site. It also means you have a wind break from any strong winds off the ocean. This is not a usual problem but it could get breezy. Though you are behind the dunes you are still just a minutes walk or less to the ocean.
The nights can get a bit chilly especially in the spring when the ocean is still cool. Be sure to bring warm clothes and bedding then.
There are bathroom facilities, showers, and water available. Trailers and RV's are welcome but there are no hook ups. I forgot to mention, the showers are HOT!!
WHAT ELSE TO DO
You can take a stroll along the beach or if you like you can cross the road and find hiking trails in the woods. The terrain climbs as you walk away from the beach. You can get some wonderful views of the area from some vantages.
To the east of the park are the Walking Dunes. No you don't walk on them. They do the walking. It seems that due to local winds these dunes are always changing shape, breaking down, rebuilding, and "walking".
Hither Hills is also a place we have stopped at when we were going to or from Montauk Point. There is plenty to do out there. Montauk, unlike the Hamptons, is low keyed and lower priced. It's a nice little town. We enjoy just walking the streets and doing a little shopping and getting an ice cream cone at the candy shop. The Montauk Lighthouse is close by. This is the eastern most point of Long Island. It is rich in history and the lighthouse is a must stop while out there.
OK New York residents, with your Empire Pass you can get into this park too. There is a five dollar charge in high season without it. Right now it is collected weekends and holidays only.
The Montauk Marina is a great place to see commercial fishing boats come in or maybe take a charter out fishing. I've had some fantastic fishing experiences out there. Whale Watching tours are out there too. You can find some nice little shops at the marina. The area has many inexpensive places to eat and fine restaurants where you can dine. Fish is the fare out there but you can get just about any food you can think of.
There is nearby horseback riding, though it is expensive. Look for places to rent kayaks and canoes. There are also excursions you can partake in. Bike riding is very popular out here also. If you are camping go to the bakery one morning and bring back some hot fresh goods and coffee. That's right "rough it". We do it. There is nothing like sitting out on the beach in a lounge chair in the early morning sun with a cup of coffee and fresh baked goods.
So stop in at Hither Hills for the day or stay a couple of weeks. It's 122 miles from NY but you might as well be on the moon. It is so different and relaxing.
Hither Hills State Park
RR#2 Box 206A
South Fairview Ave.
Montaik NY 11954
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