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10 Top-Rated Beaches on Long Island

Written by Lavanya Sunkara
Feb 12, 2019

Located a train ride away from Manhattan, the glitzy shores of the Hamptons get all the attention on Long Island. While this popular vacation destination back East boasts some of the most picturesque beaches in America, the rest of the island doesn't fall far behind in its offerings.

From long stretches of sandy beaches along the South Shore to the scenic, wooded bluffs overlooking Long Island Sound, there are a number of great beaches offering family-friendly activities, concerts, dog parks, and oceanfront hiking and biking all across Nassau and Suffolk counties. Bring your cooler, chair, and plenty of sunblock and enjoy New York's finest beach attractions with our list of the best beaches on Long Island.

1. Jones Beach State Park

Jones Beach

Stretching 6.5 miles along the South Shore, Jones Beach State Park is one of the busiest beaches on Long island, hosting up to six to eight million visitors yearly. All these people have good reason to visit this all-in-one seaside destination: the sand is soft, waves are calm, and there are plenty of things to do. On any given warm day, expect to find the long stretches of white sand covered with sunbathers and picnicking families.

The beach is easily accessible via Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), and has volleyball, shuffleboard, and basketball courts; pools; and a golf course. Walk, run, or rollerblade along the two-mile boardwalk, catch a concert at The Northwell Health Theater on summer nights, and plan to visit during the spectacular air show on Memorial Day. You'll not go hungry as there are plenty of eateries along the boardwalk, selling everything from seafood to refreshing milkshakes.

2. Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

Walking on the beach near Sagamore Hill | Photo Copyright: Lavanya Sunkara

President Theodore Roosevelt's home on the North Shore sits on 95 acres of forest and tidal salt march, with nature trails leading to the Eel Creek Boardwalk, which opens to a serene stretch of beach along the Long Island Sound. Both a National Park and a museum, Sagamore Hill offers opportunities to explore the 26th US president's charming Victorian-styled "Summer White House," as well as hike the meandering trails. The house is home to a Junior Ranger Program that teaches kids about nature and preserving the natural beauty of Long Island. The famous outdoorsman and conservationist loved his dogs, and visitors are welcome to bring their pooches, as long as they are on a leash.

3. Watch Hill

Watch Hill, Fire Island | Photo Copyright: Lavanya Sunkara

Ranked among the top 10 beaches in New York State, Fire Island National Seashore is operated by the National Park Service. A popular misconception is that Fire Island is the place to go party, but this car-free, 32-mile-long barrier island along the southern coast is breathtakingly beautiful and pristine. Deer graze in the undulating grassy dunes, and expansive beaches remain empty even in the peak of summer.

Watch Hill, located on the western edge of the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, is a short ferry ride from the Patchogue LIRR train station. The most appealing aspect of Watch Hill is the minimal amount of man-made structures, offering only one restaurant and bathrooms with showers for campers. A 183-slip marina with water, electricity, and a pump-out station are also available. Visitors can participate in guided canoe rides and hike or go bird-watching in the surrounding wilderness.

4. Sunken Meadow Beach State Park

Sunken Meadow Beach

Backed by beautiful bluffs, Sunken Meadow Beach is a popular spot on Long Island Sound. The three-quarters-of-a-mile-long boardwalk offers a lovely walk along the North Shore, with views of Connecticut in the distance. The park has three playgrounds, baseball and soccer fields, nature trails, and lawns for picnicking. And you'll not go hungry here — with concession stands offering delicious seafood and fries, and ice-cream for the kids.

On Thursdays, enjoy live country music at the "Burgers, BBQ, and Blue Moons" event and have a fun outing at the beach as the DJ spins on Sunday evenings. The calm waters are ideal for kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, and paddleboarding.

5. Robert Moses State Park

Robert Moses State Park

Previously named as one of New York's best beaches, Robert Moses is a five-mile-long State Park located on the western part of Fire Island. It is popular with locals avoiding the crowded Jones Beach, and is easily accessible by car or from the Babylon train station. Robert Moses has a pristine oceanfront, and ideal waves for swimming, boogie-boarding, surfing, and surf-fishing. Its historic Fire Island lighthouse makes for picture-perfect shots. It also has an 18-hole Pitch & Putt golf course and a volleyball court (open from early April through mid-November) in case you get bored from soaking up the sun on the beach.

6. Hither Hills State Park

Breaking waves at Hither Hills State Park

Sometimes a day at the beach isn't enough, and with 189 campsites and RV Parking, Hither Hills State Park offers a wonderful beach camping experience. Fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the crashing waves at this family-friendly state park, located on Long Island's South Fork near Montauk. Explore the "walking dunes" of Napeague Harbor on the park's western side, and the nearby woodlands filled with Russian olive, oak, and pine trees. Kids can have fun at the playground or play ball in the playing fields. The Park offers year-round fishing, and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Hither Hills gets booked up early in the year, so make reservations at least six months in advance to secure your spot.

7. Coopers Beach

Family fun on Coopers Beach | Photo Copyright: Discover Long Island

Southampton's Coopers Beach has been rated as one of the top ten beaches in the nation. The Atlantic Ocean beckons with gentle waves, and the soft-sand beach offers views of stately mansions along the dunes. Parking is a bit pricey for non-residents ($40), so rent a bike or ride your own to avoid fees. In the winter, partake in the Polar Bear plunge to benefit Heart of the Hamptons, a non-profit helping those in need in the East-End.

Chair and umbrella rentals are offered at the concession stand. Bring your own packed lunch for a picnic or enjoy refreshing drinks and food at Coopers Beach Cafe with a gorgeous view.

8. Orient Beach State Park

Orient Beach State Park

Orient Beach is unlike beaches that line the south shore of Long Island and stays relatively crowd-free. Located at the tip of North Fork, Orient Beach State Park offers gentle surf, nature trails, and opportunities to enjoy water sports and fishing. Its seaside maritime forest featuring prickly-pear cactus, red cedar, and black-jack oak trees bestowed the park National Natural Landmark status. Bird-watchers can find avian beauties like herons, egrets, and ospreys in abundance. Be sure to bring water shoes to walk the pebble-lined shoreline.

9. Gin Beach

Montauk Point Lighthouse near Gin Beach

On the eastern side of the Montauk Harbor inlet lies Gin Beach, on the calm waters of Block Island Sound. The gentle waves make this a kid-friendly beach, and the nearby boats traveling in and out of the harbor provide entertainment for toddlers. The beach features roped-off areas for swimming, and restrooms and outdoor showers. With no houses or businesses on the stretch, you can enjoy the peaceful natural surroundings.

Families with pets don't have to leave their furry friends behind, as all areas of the beach allow dogs, even off leash. Local hotels offer town parking permits to park at the beach. RV camping is available on the beach, and showers are available on the premises.

10. Long Beach

Long Beach | Photo Copyright: Discover Long Island

One wouldn't expect such a powdery beach so close to New York City, but a short train ride away lies one of the most beautiful beaches on Long Island. Known for its famed boardwalk, brimming with bikers, dog walkers, runners, and people simply taking in the views, Long beach stretches for three miles on a barrier island on the South Shore, called Ocean Beach Park. And if you want to stay connected, the boardwalk even offers Wi-Fi.

The streets leading to the beach are lined with restaurants and shops, and if you so desire, you could even get pizza delivered right to the beach. Bring your friends to play a game of volleyball, let your kids build sandcastles, or simply lounge on your chair watching seagulls glide overhead. Skudin Surf offers lessons for kids and adults, so you can learn to catch the waves.

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