Oh sure, the Hamptons are all about celebrities, exclusive parties and buckets of money, right? Well, maybe a little of that. But they've got dozens of beautiful beaches anyone can enjoy that are routinely ranked among the top 10 in the U.S. Don't know where to start? Here are four to know.
CUPSOGUE BEACH COUNTY PARK
Dune Road, Westhampton, 631-852-8111
Beachfront: 1 mile on Moriches Inlet
Price: Parking $8 with Suffolk County Green Key card, $15 without a pass
Lifeguards: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. June 21-Sept. 1
Special feature: Scuba diving is permitted.
Fun fact: This county park is a barrier beach park spanning 296 acres.
Considered by nature watchers to be an excellent spot to catch wild seals in action, this 296-acre barrier beach park also features such amenities as saltwater bass fishing, lifeguard-supervised swimming and a pavilion with a first-aid center, showers and changing rooms. Hungry beachgoers can enjoy the seafood-centric menu of the Beach Hut concession stand. Campers can park along the outer beach access road.
268 Meadow Land, Southampton, 631-283-0247
Beachfront: 500 feet on the Atlantic Ocean
Price: Free for drop-off, but a permit or $40 day pass required for parking.
Lifeguards: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends now through June 29, then daily June 30-Labor Day
Special feature: Rental beach chairs can be carried down, set up and brought back for you by the staff.
Fun fact: All beaches in Southampton Village except for Coopers Beach are unregulated and lack lifeguard supervision.
This well-kept, family-oriented beach is regularly ranked as one of the top 5 beaches in the country by "Dr. Beach" Stephen Leatherman, and with good reason. In 2010 the beach was named No. 1 in the nation. It's the only public beach in the Village of Southampton, so it is a popular spot for day-trippers. Quiet on weekdays, weekends are crowded and day passes are no longer sold in order to guarantee season pass holders a spot. The distance from the parking lot to the water isn't short, but a mobi-mat has been installed to provide a firm path to walk on. Surfing and body boarding are allowed outside of swim areas, fishing is not. There's a pavilion that offers lunch, shower facilities and lifeguards. Visitors who walk along the beach enjoy seeing the peppering of historic mansions in the distance.
At end of Ocean Avenue off Montauk Highway, East Hampton, 631-324-0074
Beachfront: 300 feet on the ocean
Price: Non-resident day passes: $20
Lifeguards: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends now through June 30, then daily through Labor Day, then weekends only through Sept. 30
Special feature: The pavilion is the perfect place to host a summer party as long as a permit is obtained in advance.
Fun fact: Aside from cars in the parking lot instead of horses, and bikinis having replaced long dresses, Main Beach hasn't changed much since 1900, when it was a private beach club.
Main Beach in East Hampton is so popular that non-resident season passes, first available each February, sometimes sell out by April. With a lively pavilion, refreshments and beach gear sold at the Chowder Bowl, volleyball nets, picnic tables and well-kept facilities, it's easy to see why. The walk to the water might be tough for seniors, but extra sand space is a good thing when so many people are looking for a spot. The sand is clean and the waves are great for boogie boarding and surfing. The high-end boutiques, small eateries, movie theater and art galleries of Main Street are all less than 1.5 miles away, and right off of Main Street on Lumber Lane is free long-term parking. Many people take advantage of this and then get to the beach by foot, bike or taxi.
HITHER HILLS STATE PARK
164 Old Montauk Highway (Route 27), Montauk, 631-321-3513
Beachfront: 2.5 miles on the ocean
Price: $10 per car daily now through Sept. 7
Lifeguards: 10 a.m.-dark now until Labor Day weekend
Special feature: Leashed dogs are permitted only north of Montauk Parkway, east of Napeague Harbor and west of overlook parking.
Fun fact: Hither Hills ranks in the top 10 state parks for biodiversity in the state.
Hither Hills becomes its own little community because of the collection of campsites on the north side of the dunes. A general store, a softball field and playgrounds offer diversions from the ocean. Children looking for playmates abound. Hither Hills frequently runs children's activities such as sand-castle building contests. Campers must reserve nine months in advance (800-456-2267), but daytrippers can pay the daily fee and join in the fun.