Looking for the best beaches on Long Island? Check out this post from local, Jenna!
Long Island is known for a few things: high property taxes, Billy Joel, Amy Fisher… and great beaches. As a kid, I built sandcastles all over the best beaches on Long Island, and as an adult, I found the ones with live music and appetizers at sunset. The south shore beaches are the ones you want if you’re a fan of smooth sand; the north shore ones are primarily rocky. Still pretty, but a lot harder to walk on barefoot.
Below are some of my favorites!
Best Beaches on Long Island
268 Meadow Lane, Southampton, NY 11968
You haven’t experienced a sunset until you’ve experienced it at Cooper’s Beach. Serenity and beauty abound at this well-maintained 7-mile-long stretch of beach in the Hamptons with soft, fine white sand and clean water. The $50 daily parking fee (yes, not a typo!) before 5 p.m. is a deterrent for many visitors, though, so it’s not usually overcrowded. It’s consistently ranked one of the best beaches in the entire country, so they get away with pricing it like you’re going to a theme park. It faces the Atlantic Ocean and the waves can get rough. You can rent chairs and umbrellas and buy whatever you need at the on-site store and upscale snack bar. For a sneak peek, check out their webcam.
2400 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh, NY 11793
Probably the most famous Long Island beach, Jones Beach has been the site of big concerts and events every summer (air shows, parades, fireworks) and light shows for the winter holidays. This is a great spot if you’re looking for activity—biking on the boardwalks, surfing, paddle boarding, fishing or crabbing, and organized nature walks. Zach’s Bay is the area to hit up if you’re looking for calm water to swim with children. There’s also a new adventure park (WildPlay) with ziplines and an aerial rope obstacle course for adults and kids.
It’s 6.5 miles long, so while it’s always crowded in nice weather, you can still find places to stake out your own spot.
Cherry Grove Bayview Walk
Cherry Grove, NY 11782
This is the longtime hot spot for LGBTQ+ beachgoers on Fire Island—it’s been known as a safe haven since the 1940s. The only way to get there is by ferry (or water taxi or private boat). It’s not officially a nudist beach, but it’s clothing optional and not for those who get freaked out easily. While 2,000-ish people live there over the summer, only 20 live there year-round—it’s really just a summer destination, heavy on partying and events like drag shows. Like the rest of Fire Island, it’s all very walkable or bike-able. You don’t have to be gay to go there, but you’re expected to be an ally. Catch a sneak peek here.
Robert Moses Beach
600 Robert Moses State Parkway, Babylon, NY 11702
This is another wildly popular beach that’s just about five miles long and accessible by car or train (get off at the Babylon station). Different fields have different vibes and activities: there are areas for family picnics, surfing, volleyball, fishing and crabbing off piers, boating, nature walks, swimming, and playgrounds. You can walk to the Fire Island Lighthouse from here (Field 5 is the closest), and spot lots of wildlife along the way. It’s $10 for parking.
850 Venetian Blvd., Lindenhurst, NY 11757
If live music is what you’re after, Venetian Shores has it… every night! Well, on season, of course. It’s open to non-residents of Babylon after 5 pm. In the summertime, this little beach gets pretty crowded, so you may have to drive around a while to wait for a parking space to open up as the family-friendly daytime crowd thins and the adults take over at night. There’s a new little restaurant, Katch, that offers real food and drinks (not just the standard hot dogs and burgers at many other beach stands).
Smith Point County Park
1 William Floyd Pkwy, Shirley, NY 11967
Smith Point is a Fire Island barrier beach and park, but you don’t need to take a ferry to get there—there’s a bridge on the William Floyd Parkway that will lead you right to it. It’s a popular place for tent and RV camping (you need reservations, sometimes far in advance, and full hook-up sites go within minutes of release at the start of the season). This is a clean, white sand beach that has ocean and bay areas, a tiki bar, live entertainment, a boardwalk, a playground, and an area where dogs are allowed. Lifeguards are plentiful and on top of things. There’s also an outer beach area where off-road four-wheeling is allowed with permit. Campers get their own private stretch of beach, which is almost always less crowded than the main beach. Be aware that non-residents pay $18 parking fees before 5:00.
Montauk Peninsula, Montauk, NY 11954
This is the spot for early morning surfing and boogie boarding, and local businesses offer lessons and equipment for rent. You can’t park here without an East Hampton Village parking permit, though (you will get an expensive ticket), so you either need to Uber/Lyft/taxi your way in, or walk from a nearby private lot. Bring a jacket in case it gets windy.
Ocean Beach Park
Nevada Avenue, Long Beach, NY 11561
Nassau County’s Long Beach is known as “the city by the sea.” Its trademark beach is four miles long, with a 2.2-mile boardwalk and all kinds of things to do: fishing, biking, swimming, surfing (in designated areas), and playground…ing. There are also several good places to eat (most notably, lots of pizza), though not many shops. It’s an easy commute by train from New York City and has a completely opposite vibe: it’s quaint and slow-paced, and very clean. Day passes are $15 per person for non-residents.
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Jenna Glatzer is the author or ghostwriter of more than 30 books, and she just released the book Kids and Teens in Quarantine: WTF Are We Supposed to Do Now? 100+ Activities and Ideas for Safely Beating Boredom and Isolation.
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