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Sandy Hook Beach Excursion
An Easy Day Trip from New York City

Gateway National Recreation Area Bliss

(Updated May 2018.)

The video shows just how pristine upper Sandy Hook's beaches are. The buildings inland are former Fort Hancock ones, when it guarded the entrance to New York Harbour.

One of the amazing things about New York City is how many fine beaches you find near it. These include those at Sandy Hook, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

You reach Sandy Hook by ferry from Manhattan, which takes you completely across New York Harbour to its entrance on the Atlantic Ocean.


What makes the Sandy Hook beaches reached by ferry so special?

Sandy Hook beaches have sand and surf as fine as any on the East Coast.

The ones you reach by ferry though are even more special. They are >>

  • Not crowded—unlike other NYC area beaches. They are a six mile drive from the auto entrance to Sandy Hook, a drive lined by other tempting beaches.
  • Nearly pristine. As expected on U.S. National Park Service land, no boardwalk or maze of commercial development mars the natural setting..

You will love being in Sandy Hook!


Seastreak ferry

Take a Seastreak ferry boat to Sandy Hook in the Gateway National Seashore on a nice summer day.

The trips begin in Midtown Manhattan or in the Wall Street area.

You must have a reservation. See the website for details.


Reaching Sandy Hook

Reaching there is half the fun.

If you board Midtown, your ferry follows the Manhattan and New Jersey skylines down the Hudson River to the tip of Manhattan. You'll see the best sights found on the regular harbour tours.

You pass close to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the main point of entry of millions of new Americans at the end of the Nineteenth and beginning of the Twentieth centuries.

Then, you enter the most impressive area of New York Harbour, surrounded by large ships and other water traffic, with the Wall Street area skyline to your left.

Container facilities and other piers mostly on the New Jersey side of the harbour handle more than half of the cargo entering Canada and the U.S. from the east. Activity continues around the clock.

Passing under the high Verrazano Narrows Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn, you glade through the wide mouth of the harbour looking out at the open Atlantic.


The Sandy Hook beaches accessible by Seastreak ferry

Above: These waves are somewhat more robust than the summer surf on the Atlantic side of Sandy Hook when I have been there. The side facing Manhattan is more sheltered.

Sandy Hook offers a beach environment for everyone, except those looking for a boardwalk amusement atmosphere.

There are beaches for all, as well as the southern part of one nearby called Gunnison Beach for those who choose to go clothing optional. If you want to practise naturalism, stay within the area marked clothing optional by the National Park Service.

Docking on the calm side of the Sandy Hook, you can easily walk to some of the beaches or still as of the summer of 2018 you can use Seastreak's free transfer vehicle to all of them.

You can also explore the old military buildings that are part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. Sandy Hook once protected the entrance to New York Harbour.

Because parking is so limited on Sandy Hook and this area is so far from the park vehicle entrance, its wide beaches are never really overcrowded. This is in marked contrast to Coney Island and Jones Beach.

You often find the surf excellent and always views toward Long Island and the ships entering or leaving New York Harbour.

There are lifeguards in season in case you need them.


Be prepared!

Although there are washrooms and rudimentary food services available, Seastreak places you there for many hours.

You absolutely have to remember to bring a powerful sun block, as well as regular sun tan lotion, and lots of water. These are essential. There's nearly no shade. A beach umbrella will be helpful.

You cannot depend on vendors always having these items available. This is a national park, not a busy resort setting.

You should also consider bringing along a picnic lunch—kept cold or bread, hard cheese, fruit, and other items that will not spoil rapidly in the heat.

Unless there have been changes, what little food service there is offers few choices.


Be on time for your ferry back!

If you miss your boat back, getting back to Manhattan could be a real hassle—quite difficult and likely super expensive. Other than Seastreak, no public transit serves this area of Gateway National Recreation Area.

Besides, the ferry ride back to Manhattan is even more spectacular than the outbound trip.

You sense the excitement of the millions of new Americans who entered the U.S. via this route.

Have a great time at Sandy Hook!


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