Since we are from Pennsylvania, we’ve known of Sandy Hook’s existence since childhood. When we lived in Hoboken it was an easy 1 hour drive to the beach. Once we moved to NYC, we kind of forgot about it and took some ridiculous journeys to get to the beach via train, jitney, etc. When we moved down to the South Street Seaport we discovered the Seastreak ferry service departing from Pier 11 Wall Street to Sandy Hook.
It’s 1/2 an hour of delightfully civilized commute through New York Harbor past the Statue of Liberty and under the Varazano bridge to Sandy Hook. There is a bar on the boat for those interested in beverages or cocktails. There is plenty of seating on multiple levels plus top and rear decks. The ride is $45/person round trip (updated 2012). Pay with cash or a card at the ticket booth on Pier 11 before boarding. Get there early. There is a line on weekends. Check out this link to the schedule. If you can go on a weekday, do it. To avoid the weekend crowds, we suggest taking the first boat out. http://www.seastreak.com/
When you arrive at Sandy Hook, the park provides a shuttle bus to the beach of your choice. Each beach suits a different taste. There’s area D, which has a large restaurant and is the furthest on the island. There is Gunnison Beach, which is for the nudists. And for us, we walk directly across the island from the dock to North Beach.
It is the quietest beach and the most unique. There’s actually a view of Manhattan in the distance on a clear day that cannot be seen from the other shore points. In the summer the haze is generally pretty thick, but on this fine June day it was clear as a bell and with a zoom lens it was possible to capture.
This beach has a pretty nice changing room/bathroom facility, outdoor showers, and snack stand with beer for $5.25. The roof has picnic tables with a spectacular view of the area. It has plaques that explain the surrounding military sites, the wildlife and the Manhattan skyline.
It is located next to the USCoast Guard station and there are a few historical landmarks along the walk including old bunkers, cannons and the like. There is also a lighthouse nearby. If you’ve got kids, there’s plenty to keep them occupied. The day we were there a school field trip of shell finding children swarmed the beach with plastic baggies. It was kind of cute, like a parade across the desert. Every now and then somebody would let go of their bag and the wind would take it away. Without fail, the kids ran into the restricted dunes to retrieve their bags.
On the walk back there is an old officer’s quarters with a giant osprey nest in the chimney. Last year there were babies, so we checked it out again. It seems to still be occupied and more huge than ever.
Hell, if you want to have a special event there’s even a chapel and event area right by the dock. Boat your guests via seastreak.
And there’s a great bench behind the chapel where we wait for the returning boat by the dock. Steve putzed with our beach chairs while I took some photos. Then we sat and watched a family of ducks eat seaweed and a little one wander off alone.
Then along came our ride…