Easy Day Trip to Sandy Hook Beach, New Jersey

section of Lot D beach with people in Sandy Hook NJ
by Anisa // 6 Comments

I full-heartedly 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 lesser-known beach in New Jersey that I enjoyed – Sandy Hook.

I love that it is easy to do a day trip to Sandy Hook from NYC, and it’s not as commercialized as other places along the Jersey Shore.  Let me tell you more about things to do in Sandy Hook and taking the ferry to get there.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure for more information.

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Sandy Hook Beach, New Jersey, Day Trip - Two Traveling Texans
Sandy Hook is perfect for a relaxed getaway from NYC!

About Sandy Hook New Jersey

Sandy Hook is a small barrier island at the northern end of the Jersey Shore in Middletown Township which is in Monmouth County, New Jersey.  It is 6 miles long and one mile wide at it is broadest point.  Most of Sandy Hook is owned and managed by the National Park Service.

Getting to Sandy Hook NJ

First of all, Sandy Hook is a very easy day trip to the beach 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.  You can check the schedule and get more information about the ferry here.

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.

For those of you that choose to sit inside, it is air-conditioned and they do have 360-degree panoramic windows, and bathrooms.  There is also complimentary high-speed wifi and a full-service cash bar with cocktails, beer, wine, sodas, tea, coffee, and snacks.

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Note: You can also drive to Sandy Hook NJ, however, I would not recommend it as there may be traffic and Sandy Hook beach parking can be an issue.

View from the ferry on the way to Sandy Hook - "Day trip to Sandy Hook, New Jersey" Two Traveling Texans
View from the ferry on the way to Sandy Hook

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.  If you want to visit multiple beaches during your time in Sandy Hook, the bus runs throughout the day.

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 talk more about nude beaches in another post.  Not too far from the nude beach is the Sandy Hook lighthouse, which is the oldest working lighthouse in the United States.  

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Selfie! Our crew had a great time at Sandy Hook!
Selfie! Our crew had a great time at Sandy Hook!

A Day at the Sandy Hook 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.

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.

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In my opinion, the Sandy Hook water temperature 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.

The water seemed clean, although you could not see clearly to the bottom.  While there were some waves, none were too big.  There were also people throwing footballs on the beach, but the Sandy Hook lifeguards did not let anyone do that in the water.

*Grab our free printable beach packing list here, so you will have everything you need for your day at the beach.

Sandy Hook Beach Food

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.

Note: Click here to check the price for a thermos to keep your wine cold on Amazon.

The Sandy Hook Ferry Back to NYC

It is a little bit of a madhouse getting back to the ferry at the Sandy Hook Marina.  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 prepare for people to be pushy.

Don’t worry though – the ferry holds a lot more people then you would expect.  We could not get seats upstairs on the ferry from Sandy Hook to NYC, 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.

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Is Sandy Hook NJ Worth Visiting?

Yes.  It’s a nice sandy beach within easy reach of New York City.  All in all, we had a great day at the beach and definitely plan on a return trip.  

Have you been to Sandy Hook Beach NJ? I would love to hear about your experience.


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beach with text overlay

Expert Tips for a Day Trip to Sandy Hook New Jersey

  • Board the Seastreak to Sandy Hook a little bit early at E 35th St stop 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.
  • If you are looking for the Sandy Hook nude beach, that would be Gunnison’s.
  • Get to the bus a little early for the ride back to NYC as it will get crowded.

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Last Updated on August 31, 2021

About the Author

Anisa is an experienced international traveler with extra pages in her passport and stamps from 41 different countries across 5 continents (and counting). She was born and raised in Texas. After a 13 year stint in NYC, she moved to England to live with her husband.