Daytrip: Sandy Hook, NJ


Our friend, Nora, celebrated her birthday recently–and introduced us to a new destination: Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Armed with email directions (meet at Pier 11), instructions for fending off sharks (punch them in the nose), and a highly scientific article declaring that women reach their peak beauty at the age of 31 (Hello, birthday girl!), we rode our bikes down to the Wall Street piers and boarded the American Princess Ferry with a dozen or so friends.

The 30 or 40-minute ride was gorgeous: after passing Lady Liberty and Ellis Island (and the Red Hook Real World apartment building), you cruise past Staten Island, under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and arrive at the barrier peninsula of Sandy Hook.
Most of the peninsula is managed by the National Park Service, and we were greeted by Park Rangers. Those of us with bikes followed trails to one of the public beaches on the Eastern (Atlantic) shore; those without had the option of a 5-minute bus ride.

Nora and Pat had scoped out the beaches the weekend prior and had decided (wisely, I think) that it might be a little uncomfortable for all of us to go together to the clothing-optional beach. So we settled in just down the shore.

We learned that one can spend their time birding, hiking, biking, fishing, or touring the abandoned military fort while at Sandy Hook–but our goal was to bee-line it to the water. It was insanely hot in the sun (and only a smidgen cooler in the shade).

Goal achieved: The next few hours were spent mostly in the water–which felt amazing. Happily, we had the option to rent an umbrella for $7 (lounge chairs are also available) for the other times.

In fact, the umbrellas proved particularly valuable when, around 3:45, some very dark and very ominous clouds began to move in. Aron checked the weather radar on his iphone and started laughing. About twenty minutes later, we were huddling under said umbrella and holding on tight as we watched others chase theirs across the sand, followed closely by multiple beach balls whipping their way toward the dunes. The initial plan was to wait it out, but it became clear that we should head for more substantial cover. We joined the mass exodus and enjoyed the absurdity of it all: we were by this time being pelted with hail and sand.There was just enough of a respite to make it to the 4:15 ferry back. And though we were sorry to have to go a few hours earlier than intended, we had a great time on the ride home–making pb&j sandwiches, attempting to get dry, and looking toward the Manhattan skyline.

A repeat trip is now high on my to-do list.

Related posts:

Travel Guides

Browse By Category