The New Yorkers beach hangout known as The Hamptons is a hub of serenity and one of the most sought-after weekend retreats off NYC. Providing a quiet rural retreat for those looking to escape the hubbub of New York City, it’s the perfect add on to a busy New York trip.
Lined with affluent hamlets and mansions along the South Fork of Long Island, it may seem like its inaccessible without an invite, mainly associated with high society parties, however it is made up of a series of some of the prettiest small, each with their own offerings so anyone can have fun exploring what it has to offer. From endless waterfront dining spots, pedal routes for bike rentals and designer shopping destinations. Here’s how we break it down;
The beaches have paid parking for visitors, although parking can be quite restricted, access to the actual beach is not, so consider arriving by taxi or bike.
Referred to as the Soho of Long Island, East Hampton is home to pristine beaches, colourful shops, and top-rated restaurants, summarising the sophisticated and luxurious ocean lifestyle here. The village centres around a thriving artistic community with artists, writers, and other creative souls drawn to the area by the town’s timeless, beachfront vibe.
Shopping and dining spots are plentiful on bustling Main Street and Newtown Lane. And shopping in East Hampton is as luxurious as it gets. Expect high-end designer brands and a handful of gorgeous boutiques, all very instagramable.
Main Beach is the well-known beach location in East Hampton, with white sandy shores, lifeguards in duty and a restroom. Two Mile Hollow Beach is a slightly more secluded beach in East Hampton, with seasonal lifeguards. A great place for safe swimming and picnics with the family.
Rich in culture and small town charm is Sag Harbor, where you’ll often find festivals, fairs, and events going on, keeping the town extra lively and jovial. Take a stroll down Main Street, visit the small town shops, and sit down to lunch at one of their many independent restaurants. Sag Harbor truly is one of Long Island’s hidden gems. Here is also a great place to book a boat trip - make some magical memories aboard a luxurious catamaran cruise, where you can take a dip in the water, lie out on the boat, and explore of the shore in kayaks and paddle boards. There are several charters available along Sag Harbor.
Southampton Harbour, which skirts the coast - is definitely where to stay in The Hamptons if you're a bit of a beach bum. Stumble across Cooper’s Beach, arguably one of the most impressive in the Hamptons and family-friendly, where you can relax and build up a tan, picnic with friends or catch some waves with the surf. Whilst other iconic coastal stretches here include the gorgeous Shinnecock Bay in the Hampton Bays hamlet, Ponquogue Beach and Meschutt Beach. Adding to the town’s appeal are its sidewalk cafes and exclusive Main Street shops, including Hildreth’s, the oldest department store in America. This area is brimming with celebrities, thanks to its amazing beach life and the historic town centre. You’ll find the Shinnecock Museum, the Southampton Historical Museum and the Old Halsey House in Southampton village as well as the First Presbyterian Church, said to be the oldest of its kind in the States from the 17th-century.
In a very American fashion, as the name suggests, this is the narrow stretch of land (or bridge) between Southampton and East Hampton. As such, it remains off the tourist radar, so the crowds often bypass it entirely. Yet, it has an understated but beautiful beach scene. A little hidden gem waiting to be explored.
Best-known for its world-class horse-riding events, such as the Hamptons Classic and the Bridgehampton Polo Club matches. In this area, expect classic farmhouses and stables which dot the landscape, see the natural wonders of the area with South Fork Natural History Museum and not forgetting the must-visit Channing Daughters Winery.
Low-key but still lively, Bridgehamptoners appreciate the simple luxuries in life—fine food and quality goods without pretence.
Montauk is about the sea and everything that comes with it – dramatic cliffs sunsets, rolling sand dunes, long sandy days, chilled local beer, lobster rolls and a lively night scene have turned this formerly sleepy fishing village into a thriving vacation hotspot. Nicknamed “The End of the World” Montauk is geographically isolated at the easternmost point of the island, but has a rustic and nautical charm. Visit the famous Montauk Point Lighthouse and range of nature preserves. Surfers can enjoy the great waves at Ditch Plains Beach, while partiers will love the poolside scene at The Montauk Beach House.
Best time to go
While the Hamptons is a popular summer travel destination, the best time to explore it is during the shoulder season, May and September. These months are associated with lower prices, thinner crowds, and great weather.