I full-heartily believe that “Life is better on a beach.” Typically, I prefer ones in the Caribbean with white sand and crystal clear warm blue waters, but today I wanted to share information about a beach in New Jersey that I really enjoyed – Sandy Hook.
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Getting to Sandy Hook
First of all, Sandy Hook is a very easy day trip from New York City without a car. The Sandy Hook beach ferry picks up at East 35th St and Wall St and takes you there for $45 round trip. When I went, we used a Groupon so the round-trip ferry ticket only cost $25 instead of $45. (Click here to see if there is a Groupon available) You can also drive there, but there may be traffic and parking can be an issue.
I would recommend going early and boarding at the first stop (E 35th St.) so you can secure a seat outside on the top deck on the ferry to Sandy Hook from Manhattan. I do want to emphasize there are not very many seats outside. We almost had a fight break out when my boyfriend, Russell, left his seat for a few minutes to take pictures. A lady lectured me about not saving seats. But once everything settled down, the boat ride was pretty smooth and took about an hour.
When you arrive on the ferry from NYC, it is a short bus ride (on an old school bus) to one of the five beaches. If you prefer, you can rent bikes right where you get off the ferry. A few of my friends rented bikes and then met us at the beach. We went to the closest beach, Lot D. There is even a nude beach – Gunnison. It is the only legal nude beach in New Jersey, so I hear it can get crowded. We will talk more about nude beaches in a later post. Not too far from the nude beach is the Sandy Hook lighthouse, which is the oldest working lighthouse in the United States.
A Day at the Beach
We took the first boat out in the morning (8:00 am on weekends and holidays) and grabbed a spot by the water and close to the lifeguard stand. The lifeguards here are serious, we saw them doing exercises like push-ups and running on the beach. They also made sure to keep some empty space around them just in case of an emergency. So sitting by the lifeguards is good for the Baywatch-esque view and also since it will give you some breathing room if the beach gets crowded. Additionally, you can use it as a good landmark to easily find your spot.
The day we picked, the weather was perfect. Not too hot and lots of sun. There were umbrellas that you could rent there for $10 (chairs also), so that is a good option for those that sunburn easily. The day was so clear we could actually see the skyline of New York City from the beach. It was very faint so we couldn’t capture it in a picture, unfortunately.
In my opinion, the water is a bit cold, but that is to be expected in this area. There still were a lot of people in the water, including some of my friends. I was able to get in almost to waist level. There were some waves but none that were too big. The water seemed clean, although you could not see clearly to the bottom. There were also people throwing footballs on the beach, but the lifeguards did not let anyone do that in the water.
Food Options at Sandy Hook Beach
As far as food goes, you can pack a picnic and/or eat from the food trucks that are there. We had the pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich from Hog Heaven and while it might not be the healthiest lunch, it was very tasty. There were a few different options, so don’t worry about going hungry. We also brought wine in a thermos and it surprisingly stayed cold.
The Ferry Back
It is a little bit of a madhouse getting back to the ferry. Your tickets are not for a specific time so the later boats may be more crowded. I would recommend getting to the bus a little early (10 minutes or so) and being prepared for people to be pushy. Don’t worry though – the ferry holds a lot more people on it then you would expect. We could not get seats upstairs on the ferry back, so we sat inside and actually had a short nap. The ferry stops at E 35th St first on the way home, so the trip back was even faster.
All in all, we had a great day and definitely plan on a return trip. Have you been to Sandy Hook? I would love to hear about your experience.
Expert Tips for a Day Trip to Sandy Hook New Jersey:
- You may be able to get a discounted Sandy Hook ferry ticket. (Click here to see if there is a Groupon.)
- Board the boat a little bit early at E 35th St if you want to sit outside.
- Bring cash for food trucks, umbrella, and chairs.
- Try to grab a spot by the lifeguard stand to have extra space and an easy to locate area.
- Get to the bus a little early for the ride back to NYC as it will get crowded.
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