Long Island, New York as a whole is often referred to as a bedroom community of New York City. But, Long Island is much more than that. It is a fish-shaped island that sits in the Atlantic Ocean and is connected to Manhattan by several bridges and tunnels. It was once inhabited by American Indians and as the years passed much of it was turned into farm land and ship building communities by the European settlers. It played a part in the American Revolution and in WWII. Eventually, the farms and shipbuilding communities dwindled while suburban homes and towns grew up throughout the island. Because it is an island surrounded by water it has a vast and beautiful coastline. Although now a very cosmopolitan area to this day Long Island is still filled with natural beauty of all types. It is my beloved home. To enlarge a photo just click on it. And, here is my little corner of Long Island....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Every summer we take a drive along the eastern part of the south shore of Long Island to the very end where The Montauk Point Lighthouse sits facing the Atlantic Ocean.  This is the beautiful area famously known as "The Hamptons" where the stars descend in summer and the artists have come through the centuries to capture it's luminous light on their canvases.  Below are photos my husband and I have taken during our visits there the past several years beginning at Shinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays and ending in the Village of Montauk.  As always you can click on the photos to enlarge them or to see all of them at once if you'd rather not read the descriptions.  Hope you enjoy the trip....

A little of the area's history

The Shinnecock Inlet, with the town of Hampton Bays to it's west and Southampton to it's east, was cut by Mother Nature during the Great Hurricane of 1938.  It connects the Atlantic Ocean to Shinnecock Bay.  On the opposite shore of the bay sits the Shinnecock Canal which connects the bay to Great Peconic Bay and the North Fork of Long Island.  This is a photo of one of the many fishing boats that dock right inside the inlet coming in from the Atlantic Ocean.  Notice the gulls following him in after a good day's catch!  In the distance you can see a group of sport fishermen, as well, a favorite pastime in the area.

And, hopefully, only if they thoroughly understand the dangers of these treacherous currents, private fishermen can tackle the inlet, too.  If you look closely at the front of the boat out of the water and the rear fisherman trying to stand up this picture gives you an idea of the power of these waters.  And, this was a very calm day as you can see by the lack of waves on the Atlantic in the background.

 This is another favorite inlet pastime, riding the waves.  Unfortunately many boats, both wave runners and private fishing boats, have capsized here due to the undertow, chop and currents of the changing tide that run through this inlet.  In the background on the Southampton side there is a Suffolk County camp ground, a wonderful place to spend a beach vacation right on the Atlantic Ocean in the Hamptons.

 A typical shot of the Hampton Bays coast line immediately to the west of the inlet.  It's a wonderful uncrowded beach with free parking in the Suffolk County Park lot where you can swim, fish and beach walk.  

Or, you can watch the local wild life.

And, legally bring your dog for a few hours of beach fun once September comes, a rarity on any Long Island beach these days.

If you'd like to grab a bite to eat there are several year round waterside restaurants right in the area to enjoy a bit of delicious seafood and a great water view.

You can easily spend an entire day here.  If you stay for sunset you can watch it set over Shinnecock Bay and then take this bridge back to the mainland.

And, if you happen to have come at the right time you can watch the full moon rise over the inlet.

Trivia Fact:  The hamlet of Hampton Bays had a very dubious beginning.  It was originally settled in 1740 as "Good Ground".  Soon after, in 1743, a man by the name of K "Mole" Fallo distributed blankets to the townsfolk that were purposely infected with smallpox.  He then purchased land titles from the widows and orphans that were left after the death and devastation of the disease took it's toll.  And, I bet you thought today's high ranking businessmen were nasty!  In 1922 the area became known as Hampton Bays and is now a pleasant town of approximately 13,000 residents.  Commercial fishing is a vital part of it's economy with it being the second busiest fishing port in NYS after Montauk.  It houses restaurants, summer homes and rentals, shops and beaches.

 But, for our journey today we're going to continue on Montauk Highway heading toward Montauk Point.  We'll pass Southampton College, now owned by Stony Brook University, on the north side and the Shinnecock Indian Reservation on the south side.  The next town we'll drive through is Southampton.  As you come to it you'll probably see this Mom and Pop roadside flower stand in front of a big white house...

 With it's beautiful homegrown fresh flowers.

We'll skip the town of Southampton itself because I devoted an entire post to it awhile ago.  If you'd like to read that blog post this is a direct link to it:  Village of Southampton

TRIVIA FACT:  Southampton was founded in 1640 by settlers from Massachusetts which explains why you'll notice as you drive through that the style of the old Southampton houses make it an area that would fit right into Cape Cod or any other New England town.  The land was originally obtained from the Shinnecock Indian Nation.  In 1703 a deal between the tribe and Southampton was struck for a 1,000 year lease.  The Shinnecock Indian Nation now claims there was a fraudulent land grab however, in 1859 and in 2005 filed a lawsuit against the State petitioning the return of 3,500 acres of Southampton to the tribe.  That land includes the exclusive Shinnecock Hills Golf Club which Native Americans claim is the location of tribal burial grounds.  This dispute is being fought out in courts to this day and has still not been resolved.  

If you'd like to do a bit of shopping, have a delicious meal, or just stop and stretch for awhile the Village of Southampton is a lovely place to do it.  This is its town park.  That's me looking at Southampton's Lake Agawam.  And, beyond it is the Atlantic Ocean.  Dune Road runs along the beach and a drive past the many mansions is always fun.

Be sure to catch this "woman power" tractor on your way out of town.  :) 

 As you continue your drive along Montauk Highway you're bound to notice the vineyards that are popping up nowadays, another fun place to stop.

Or simply to admire their beauty.

As we leave Southampton and head east we will pass through the small towns of Watermill and Bridgehampton with their surrounding farms and farm stands.  It's a very picturesque drive.  This beautiful old church is just one of the many old buildings you'll notice as you're heading east.

 There are flowers everywhere...

 And, you might even spot a bit of wildlife.

 Along the way there are also all sorts of funky galleries and shops to stop at where the rich and famous buy their goodies.  I've decided this will be my bathtub when I win the lottery.  :)

 And, now we come to the Village of East Hampton.  You'll know you're there when you see this beautiful pond as you're entering town.

 Shopping is a main pastime here and spotting someone famous is nothing out of the ordinary in East Hampton.  This is one of the several stores that make up the local "Ralph Lauren" shops.

And this is the Ralph Lauren children's store set in one of the local historical buildings.

One of the local art gallery windows....or maybe dessert? 

 An interesting side trip to the north section East Hampton will take you to the grounds of  LongHouse Reserve,  a lovely botanical garden with constantly changing outdoor art/sculpture shows.  (For days and times of operation click on the link above.)

 As you can see it's a lovely place to roam around in and really deserves an afternoon of your time all to itself.

Works by sculptors from all over the world are represented on the grounds. 

As you head back down to the village and Montauk Highway you'll see the wind mill and know you are at the eastern end of the Village of East Hampton heading into Amagansett and getting close to your destination.

TRIVIA FACT:  East Hampton was settled in 1648 by English farmers and was a quiet farming community until the late 19th century when it became a resort for the wealthy upper class.  Since the mid 20th century it is also known for being an artist colony.  Today it is filled with galleries, high end shops and the mega wealthy stars who summer here.  Its Atlantic Coast beaches are beautiful with their soft white sand, but parking at them is impossible unless you have a resident parking permit.  In mid-October East Hampton houses the 5-day long annual Hamptons International Film Festival which is becoming increasingly more prestigious with every year.  It's a great time for "star spotting" in the local shops and restaurants!

 Here the highway runs fairly close to the Atlantic with it's big beach houses and sand dunes.  Now and then you will see an overlook to pull into or better yet a way to actually walk down to the sea where you can see scenes like this one.

And there are places to stay overnight and restaurants here and there.  The famous Gurney's Inn and Spa is along this stretch with it's salt water pool, delicious food and wonderful views for dining or sleeping.  It's our favorite place to stop for lunch before heading on to the lighthouse.

As you are getting close to the town of Montauk you'll see The Deep Hollow Ranch on your left.  It's the oldest ranch in the United States.  You can visit it and even ride horses along the beach here.  For much more information about it just click on this link:  Deep Hollow Ranch.  

One of the Deep Hollow residents.

Again, an entire day can easily be spent here.

If you've veered right onto Old Montauk Highway you'll be coming into the town of Montauk itself.  Here there is another treacherous inlet from the Atlantic Ocean that runs into Montauk Harbor.

You can pull your car up to watch the boats come in...

Or just to see the sights.

This is looking from the inlet into the town of Montauk.  The land that Montauk sits on was purchased from the Montaukett Indians in 1600.  It broke away from East Hampton and became the town of "Montauk" in the mid-1800s.

 The little village of Montauk is a small town with shops, places to eat and many motels in the area.  But, that's deceiving because Montauk is also many other things.  As you can see here it houses a Coastguard base.  It also has an Army and Navy base.  It is a huge tourist area with 6 State Parks.  It is known world wide for surfing and every kind of fishing one could imagine.

 Montauk is home to the largest commercial and recreational fishing fleet in New York State

 So, if you've a mind to grab a pole and head east!

***To continue on for pictures of The Montauk Point Lighthouse and State Park please scroll to the blog post below or click on this link, thank you:


Here we are at Montauk Point State Park located on the the south eastern tip of Long Island.  If you're a Long Islander you've seen the bumper sticker that says "The End" referring to this spot.  Although, I'm starting to see more and more bumper stickers referring to Montauk that say "The Beginning".  And that might just be a lot more accurate.

It is said that the pirate Captain Kidd buried treasure in the land near the foot of the lighthouse in 1699.  The lighthouse itself was authorized under George Washington in 1792 while he was President and construction was finished on November, 17, 1796.  It was the first lighthouse to be built in New York State.  It was instrumental in our World War II defense system and in 1942 the U.S. Army established it's Eastern Coastal Defense Shield here.  The observation bunkers can still be viewed at nearby  Shadmoor State Park.

Today Montauk Point Lighthouse is still functioning and it is a very busy tourist spot.  You can walk into the lighthouse and see Long Island towards the west for a great distance and the Atlantic Ocean from a glorious position in the sky.  The grounds are beautiful and the scenes spectacular.  There are paths to the beach, a snack bar overlooking the ocean, a gift shop and many opportunities for photography and fishing.

For information about it's hours of operation please click on this link:  Montauk Point Lighthouse.  For our pictures of the lighthouse, in and out, and the area surrounding it please see below...


A classic view of The Montauk Point Lighthouse

And a nice view of our main photographer for this visit to Montauk Point sitting on top of the park's bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, my husband, Sandy.

 And here we are going for an interior tour of the lighthouse.  Get your legs ready to climb 137 iron steps while winding around a narrow tower!

A close up of it's tower

As you can see the interior is all utilitarian.

Looking out at the Atlantic through one of it's portholes.  Imagine watching a hurricane or Nor'easter from up here!

The view from the observation deck looking southwest along the Atlantic coastline back towards New York City

Here I just wanted to give you a sense of the height....and maybe a little bit of vertigo, too.  :)  This is the view looking east over the Atlantic.

Here we are looking north past the North Fork of LI towards Connecticut.

Looking down at Old Glory

If you go even higher you are on eye level with the actual lamp itself.  Really not as imposing as one would think it would be.

And, all the lamps that have been used since the lighthouse was built are on display in the lighthouse museum building.

Back in the nineties Alice Connick lost her 22 year old son at sea.   She formed a committee to raise funds for this "Lost At Sea" bronze memorial standing 8' high upon a 7' high granite pedestal.  When the memorial was dedicated in 1999 it carried the names of at least 120 East End (of Long Island) fishermen who have been lost at sea, but sadly since time began surely hundreds more have been lost in just this part of the treacherous Atlantic Ocean.  

Now as we leave the lighthouse we'll head down the bluff towards the beach.

You'll see plenty of these guys overhead while you're here.

And, a lot of these as you descend the path to the beach, also, our wild rose the official New York State flower.

And a lot of these guys and gals, too, enthusiastic fishermen!

Montauk's beautiful Atlantic coastline

With the sound and sight of it's crashing waves and

glorious colors.

Looking back towards the lighthouse from the beach.

Nearing the path back up...

and taking one last look at the ocean surf.

Can't you just feel the spray?

Getting closer to the ridge once again we see the lighthouse.

And, of course we have to have a true "Montauk Daisy" sighting on the way up the path, too.

Or, maybe you're taking the path to the snack bar by now.  If so you can bet you'll be greeted by these guys who are always ready, willing and able to share that snack with you.  :) 

While you're eating you can gaze at this view below from your picnic table on the patio.

As the sun begins to set and you look back at the lighthouse on your way out of the park you know you've had a fun day.

 But, one time our photographer drove out just before Christmas and found the sun setting on this wonderful surprise

 Every year the lighthouse is decorated for the occasion, edged in lights with a big wreath hung on it.

A close up

As it got darker the sight became even more beautiful...

Until it was absolutely astounding.

Thank you for looking in.  I hope you've enjoyed the tour and that it will encourage you to take an enjoyable drive to the East End to see one of our famous pride and joys....even if you've been there many times before.