July 12, 2016

Things to Do in Montauk: Long Island's East End's Hip Beach Town

On the far East End of Long Island's South Fork, lies a hamlet that has been on the rise for the better part of the last decade—controversy included.

by Nicole Haddad photographer Nicole Haddad

On the far East End of Long Island's South Fork, lies a hamlet that has been on the rise for the better part of the last decade—controversy included. A once-quiet fishing and surfing locale, Montauk was one of the Hamptons' last laidback, blue collar hold-outs—chockfull of old-timer bars, fisherman, and family-run businesses. But recent years have seen an influx of riotous summer crowds that have locals up in arms. Developers and nightclub promoters have taken over shabby but much-loved hangouts and revamped them into hip spots such as The Surf Lodge, and the wild beachfront bar, The Sloppy Tuna (a particular bone of contention for locals). Median sales prices for properties reportedly went up 25 percent just in the first quarter of 2016 and high-end shops like Calypso and Cynthia Rowley have arrived. But it appears that balance is returning, so that locals and visitors can co-exist. The community is working together on creating noise ordinances and parking rules, and there is a new focus on reinvestment in dilapidated properties and creating family-friendly rentals, a trend most locals appreciate. Interior design icon Vicente Wolf, who purchased his home in 1984, states: "Montauk was a place where people went to escape. It is not like the rest of the Hamptons where people go to be seen. I hope it can stay that way." Indeed while many design impresarios have second homes in Montauk, Ralph Lauren included, they tend to keep a low profile and enjoy the community life.

A fishing boat moored near the Coast Guard's home base.
A fishing boat moored near the Coast Guard’s home base.

GETTING THERE Montauk is accessible by car, bus, train, or helicopter from New York City. The Hampton Jitney operates year-round and departs from locations all over New York City. Take the LIRR from Penn Station to Montauk. The fastest train (only on Fridays), will get you there in two hours and 42 minutes. Trade dollars for time and book a helicopter ride through BLADE.

THINGS TO DO Montauk is full of laidback, family-friendly activities such as shopping and casual outdoor dining in Gosman's Dock or on the town's main street. Take in the view from the top of the Montauk Point Lighthouse, explore the coastline on horseback at Deep Hollow Ranch, or enjoy a sail on the Mon Tiki. For the more adventurous: Book a deep sea fishing excursion; Surf on Ditch Plains beach; Hike through Camp Hero State Park or Montauk Point State Park which offers spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean where it meets Block Island Sound; Hike or bike through Hither Hills State Park; Enjoy saltwater fishing or hiking through Shadmoor State Park; Take an adult-only sunset cruise; Watch the sun set from a myriad of locations including Navy Beach, Duryea's, The Montauket, Gurney's, or The Surf Lodge's outdoor deck.

WHERE TO EAT John's Pancake House, Duryea's, The Dock, and Gosman's are local favorites. The Crow's Nest is utterly delicious with everything from local fluke crudo to Spring Spaghettini on the menu. Marc Rowan opened Arbor, a new restaurant in the former Ciao space, offering a Mediterranean-style menu and a fun casual atmosphere. Ruschmeyer's straight-from-the-dock and farm-to-table fare is a big draw.

Designer Vicente Wolf at his home in Montauk. Nautical-themed wares from Homeport Town.
Designer Vicente Wolf at his home in Montauk.

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