First time renting? Here for a short stay? Read on and stay tuned for a few ideas that offer an introduction to the South Fork for some and a welcome back for old friends.
In terms of the beach, East Hampton's Main Beach is popular for spending the day, with outdoor showers and a snack bar that serves hot and cold foods like burgers and ice creams. Rated as one of the top beaches in the country, it can be crowded, so other lifeguarded beaches like Two Mile Hollow and Georgica in East Hampton Village or Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett or Kirk Park in Montauk are often a good option. Nonresident village beach permits (to park at Georgica, Main, Egypt, Wiborg's, and Two Mile Hollow Beaches) are sold out for the 2014 season, but Main and Two Mile Hollow offer daily parking permits for $25, on sale at the Main Beach Pavilion on a first-come-first-served basis. On Saturdays and Sundays, only 40 daily parking permits are available.
Nonresident town beach permits, for parking at most other beaches from Wainscott east to Montauk are always in supply and cost $375. The only town beach where you can pay to park for the day is Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett, which also boasts the Snack Hut. Parking costs $20, weekdays only, with no daily parking available on weekends. Parking is free and no permit is required at Kirk Park in downtown Montauk.
Those without beach permits, who don't want to hoof it all the way from the long-term parking lot in East Hampton Village, can catch a lift on one of the Free Ride's free electric shuttles, leaving for Main Beach from the long-term lot off Lumber and Gingerbread Lanes and several other spots around the village. Free Ride also operates in a loop from Amagansett's Main Street to Indian Wells, and Atlantic Avenue Beaches. In Montauk, stops include Atlantic Terrace Motel, the Sloppy Tuna, and Navy Beach. A Southampton route shuttles passengers from the train station, down Main Street, Job's Lane, and to Cooper's Beach.
Furry friends are allowed off leash on most East Hampton Town and Village Beaches before 9 a.m. Early risers might make a date of it with a doughnut and coffee from Jack's Stir Brew Coffee in Amagansett, open at 7 a.m., and then head out to stroll on nearby Indian Wells. For an impromptu puppy play date, Wiborg's Beach is supposedly the beach most frequented by morning dog walkers. There are strict rules about cleaning up after your dogs (and fines for not doing so), and don't be surprised if fellow beachgoers remind you about them. Bags are provided.
If you're planning a beach fire on an East Hampton Village beach, ensure that the fire is lighted no sooner than 6 p.m., and in a metal container no wider than two feet. All charcoal and wood remnants must be removed after the fire is extinguished with a bucket of water, not sand. On town beaches, fires do not have to be in a container, but should be no larger than 30 inches in diameter. They can be lighted anytime after 5, and must be extinguished by 11:59 p.m.
Surfers looking for a beach to catch a wave, will find Montauk's ocean beaches to be their best bet, generally the farther east, the better. Rather than give out specifics -- you know how surfers can be -- we'll let you find your own favorite break. Additionally, kite boarders and wind surfers have established Napeague Harbor in Amagansett as a go-to place for their water activities.
Bay and harbor beaches will have gentler waves, so little ones can safely have some of their first seaside experiences at beaches like Louse Point in Springs, Fresh Pond in Amagansett, or Gin Beach in Montauk.