Deciding where to stay in The Hamptons
East Hampton has everything; superb beaches, elegant shops and more often than not a few celebrities can be spotted. Main Street is shopping heaven with tempting window displays offering glittering jewellery ready for poolside parties, crocodile wallets, casual clothing and beachwear, contemporary and classic art as well as fun items for children and adults and a mouthwatering chocolate shop.
The beaches have silky soft white sand and are relatively accessible with little development. Parking is restricted with permits needed between May and September so going on foot or by bike is much easier. The aptly named Main Beach has the most facilities with sunbeds and umbrellas for rental, a snack bar, showers and toilets. Two Mile Hollow is also popular and is known as the gay beach of East Hampton.
East Hampton Town Parks and Recreation Department offers kids sailing and activity classes often at reduced prices and some are for free.
For rainy days, and yes they do happen, there is cinema where the latest films can be watched while munching on a giant size tub of popcorn.
Accommodation in East Hampton ranges from a classic Greek Revival hotel adorned with Scandinavian art to family friendly rental homes where cots and highchairs are all part of the service.
Montauk has earned the nickname “The End” and when you look on a map it is easy to see why. Located at the very eastern tip of The Hamptons it is a major tourist destination with six state parks and being known worldwide for its saltwater fishing. Over the years Montauk has been used as an Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force base and the Montauk Point Light is the one of the oldest and still active lighthouses in the US.
The state parks of Montauk Point, Hither Hills, Montauk Downs, Shadmoor, Napeague and Camp Hero offer amazing opportunities for outdoor pursuits including biking, hiking and fishing. There are nature trails and bridle paths as well as cross country ski trails to take advantage of the stunning surroundings and wherever you look the sea and the beautiful beaches are not far away. Scenic picnic areas with fireplaces and barbeques are located across the parks and if you want to bring a tent or an RV there are designated camp sites.
The beaches in Montauk stretch for miles with some of the most popular ones being Gin Beach which is recommended for families with small children, Hither Hills which has the biggest parking area and full facilities and Ditch Plains which has the best waves and is great for surfing.
There are any number of water-based sports available with equipment for hire but if you don’t want to get your feet wet why not go for a gallop along the beach with a horse from the local stables or head out to sea on one of the whale-watching trips.
Montauk shops are a great source of individually designed espadrilles and brightly coloured totes and beach wear as well as many fair-trade and organic products. Many of the shops are located around the Plaza area but head a few miles away to Gosman’s Dock and you will find a mix of retail outlets selling a diverse range of items.
Places to stay in Montauk include a surf lodge with waterfront rooms, Tudor style properties with open fires or you splash out and stay at the local yacht club in the newly revamped and luxurious surroundings.
Amagansett is pretty much all about the beach. On Atlantic Avenue Beach you can hire all sorts of equipment ranging from bikes, boogie boards, skateboards and surfboards or learn stand up paddle boarding (SUP), or maybe how to kayak, surf or row a boat. For a refreshing beach side walk take the Hither Hills State Park Walking Dunes Trail between Amagansett and Montauk where the mountains of sand move several metres every year.
Amagansett Square is a quaint outdoor shopping and leisure area in the heart of the village with coffee shops, music shops, a yoga centre, a shop selling just chutney and many other intriguing retail outlets. Children can run and play while you meet friends for a chat and a drink. Outdoor events take place here in the summer such as concerts and films on the green.
You can chose to stay in resort type hotels that are right on the beach where the sound of the ocean lulls you to sleep or rent a private home where the owner is on hand to help you settle in.
Two hundred years ago Sag Harbor was a thriving whaling town and seaport but it is now world famous for artists and writers and is busy all year round. The narrow streets are home to antique shops, trendy boutiques and restaurants serving some of the best food in The Hamptons. Million dollar mansions rub shoulders with historic cottages and the old and new blend seamlessly together.
The Foster Memorial Beach is the perfect family beach with warm, shallow water and fine sand and as it is west-facing the sunsets are incredible and well worth staying on the beach for. The Sag Harbor Sailing School is great for water-based activities from learning to kayak right up to being captain of your own yacht. Close to Sag Harbor the birds will come and eat out of your hand at the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge.
You can choose to stay in restored whaling inns, romantic beachside hotels, B&B’s or rent a private house and be free to come and go as you please.
Southampton is the place in The Hamptons to view exclusive mansions with their manicured lawns and expensive cars. Meadow Lane is where the serious money is and the average house price is around 18 million US dollars. Old money oozes through Southampton and the residents and visitors flock to spend it in the classy shops and galleries in Jobs Lane and Main Street.
This celebrity summer playground has glitzy restaurants and bars and nightclubs galore. The hottest place to go is ultra-exclusive club-goers paradise South Pointe where top DJ’s keep the party going until the sun comes up. If your taste if for beer not a cocktails a microbrewery in Southampton makes five new brews every year and releases a few new flavours every season.
The main beach in Southampton and best for families is Coopers Beach where there are snacks available, sunbed and umbrella rentals, showers and toilets. Many of the town’s beaches are residents only, so check before you set off with your bucket and spade!
Accommodation can be found in intimate guesthouses or five star motels and hotels. Private house rentals from a simple studio for two or a private estate sleeping up to forty people can be found in and around Southampton making this area the perfect place for your next holiday.
Wainscott, Sagaponack, Bridgehampton, & Water Mill
The four other most well-known villages in the Easy Hamptons are clustered together between East Hampton and Southampton. Sagaponack is closest to the Atlantic Ocean and the beautiful Sagg Beach with full amenities plus volleyball nets, fishing, and surfing will keep everyone happy.
Bridgehampton has a small but classy shopping centre with forty or so individual retailers and is located just of the Montauk Highway for easy access. In August the village plays host to the famous Hampton Classic Horse Show, a prestigious show jumping competition and premier destination for horsey people. Water Mill and Wainscott are more residential areas where elegant and expensive properties can be glimpsed down long sweeping driveways.