Long Island is known for its famed coastline featuring miles of pristine beaches and scenic parks. Whether activities such as swimming, fishing, hiking high wooded bluffs or biking oceanfront paths pique your interest – or if you’re looking for a place to simply soak up some sun, Long Island’s shoreline is easily accessible and adventure-packed for both travelers and locals alike. The North Shore’s high, scenic bluffs brood over the Long Island Sound and boast rocky beaches and calmer waters while the South Shore meets the Atlantic Ocean with miles of smooth white sand beaches and waves that attract surfers from around the globe.
The North Shore’s Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park draws family crowds to a boardwalk, food concession and beach on calm Long Island Sound waters and offer wooded barbecue areas and scenic bluff-top hiking. North Fork’s Orient Beach State Park features a rare maritime forest and a beach on Gardiner’s Bay. A ferry ride away from Greenport or Sag Harbor takes you to lovely Crescent Beach on Shelter Island.
Located on the South Shore, Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh offers 6.5 miles of white sand beaches and plays host to nearly 6 million visitors each year. Swim and sunbathe by the crashing Atlantic surf or take a dip in Zach’s Bay. Walk, run, roller blade or bike on the two-mile boardwalk or stay late to fish from the pier and take in an evening concert at the 15,000-seat Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre. Only a few miles away is Long Beach, home to a famous 2.2-mile boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean beach. With easy LIRR access year-round, Long Beach attracts sunbathers, volleyball players, joggers, kayakers and surfers alike.
Celebrity-studded Main Beach in East Hampton and Coopers Beach in Southampton have both been rated number one in the nation by international beach expert Stephen P. Leatherman of Florida International University – a.k.a. “Dr. Beach.” Be aware both are considered “local” beaches and require a parking fee but you can bike there or take a hotel shuttle. Each year, surfers flock to Montauk Point State Park and Ditch Plains where waves reach record heights for the eastern seaboard.
Wildwood State Park and Robert Moses State Park are other popular South Shore ocean spots. Fire Island, designated a federal National Seashore, is a 32-mile-long barrier island located just across the Great South Bay from mainland Long Island. Its 17 small communities, which are only accessible by passenger ferry, are known for their sparkling beaches and lively nightlife.