A few years ago the hubby and I went out to the East End of Long Island for the day. (Yes, I know it is a far drive but, I love it out there.) We packed a picnic lunch the night before and got up early the next morning. For breakfast, we grabbed bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches and coffee from the Deli. There's nothing like and egg sandwich on the way to the beach.
We started our drive East on the Long Island Expressway to exit 70 where we stopped into the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island. This is a wonderful, peaceful spot before you get to the hustle and bustle of Montauk Highway.
After our visit, we hit the road again to Watermill. We stopped a the windmill to enjoy our picnic lunch. Yes, it is right along Montauk Highway but, it is a nice little town to stop in and take a break for lunch. Plus, it is fun to eat next to a historic windmill.
Then we set out for the last part of our trek to THE END! After passing through the busy Hamptons and Amagansett, we finally made it to Montauk.
There are several choices in terms of parks that accept the NYS Empire Pass. Hither Hill State Park is the first ocean access you will find upon entering Montauk. They have campgrounds and comfort facilities. (This park happens to be where we got engaged.)
However, on this particular day, we headed to the very end and went to Camp Hero and Montauk Lighthouse. (Both of these parks accept the NYS Empire Pass.) "Camp Hero State Park encompasses 415 acres of diverse landscape including heavily wooded areas, a long expanse of beachfront along the Atlantic Ocean, and an historic military installation. Specific features of Camp Hero are magnificent pristine maritime forests, freshwater wetlands, spectacular ocean vistas and dramatic bluffs rising from the beach. An extensive system of trails is available for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The park boasts some of the best surf fishing locations in the world, open 24 hours a day to fishermen with permits,and areas for picnicking. An undisturbed environment shelters bountiful wildlife and an abundance of birds. The former military base that is in the park is registered as a National Historic Site."
The beach is absolutely natural. It is certainly not for swimming or sunbathing but, it is a great way to appreciate the nature that we have on Long Island. It is incredibly interesting to look at the effects of erosion on the island first hand. You will actually see the land wearing away in the time you stand near the water.
We particularly enjoy this park because it isn't as crowded as many of the others. It is a nice place to be by yourselves and enjoy the sound of the ocean lapping at the shoreline. You can get a great view of the lighthouse without having to deal with crowds of people.
After we got our fill of hiking, we went to the very next park (less than 1500 ft down Montauk Highway). This park give you less rustic trails and access to the lighthouse. The admission to the lighthouse is extra however, you can get really close by just walking along the trails down to the water. This is a great place to grab some clam chowder. (For some reason, it is some of the best I've had out East.) Also, there are countless surfcasters to watch. If you enjoy taking photos of waves, this is the spot for you. They also have a wonderful two person swing at the top of the hill that you can relax on.
Inevitably, the day needs to come to an end usually because you are starving and the sun is going down. So, we head over to Gosman's Dock for some dinner at the outdoor Clam Bar. Gosman's Dock has a variety of restaurants but, the most casual is the outdoor, self-serve clam bar. You can sit right on the dock, watch the sunset, and see the boats coming in and out of the harbor. After dinner, there is Hershey's Ice Cream at Gosman's, Ben & Jerry's in the next parking lot, or Fudge N Stuff in town. We enjoy Fudge N Stuff simply because they have a great variety of ice cream and amazing fudge!