by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
Welcome to Montauk! Whether this is your first or tenth trip to Montauk, you’ll find that there is always something new to discover. Whether it’s swimming, surfing, hiking, horseback riding or dining, Montauk has it all! Perhaps you decided to visit Montauk because friends have raved about the wonderful time they had here. Maybe you read an article about the beauty of the area and the easy driving distance for a unique spring, summer or autumn vacation and wanted to see for yourself what Montauk is all about. Whatever brought you to this charming seaside fishing village and resort, you will certainly have a unique experience! Naturally first time visitors have a lot to explore. If accommodations are in or close to town, it is easy to get around by foot for dining and shopping. But there is so much to see once you head out of town to explore the rest of Montauk. Reading The Montauk Sun is a great first start to learn about the many restaurants, popular music festival, shopping and activities that happen in Montauk! Start exploring!
Probably the most well known attraction is the Montauk Lighthouse and no visit is complete if a tour of this National Landmark is not included. It was authorized by President George Washington back in 1792 and building commenced in 1796, with a purpose to aid navigation. It is located on the very tip of eastern Long Island and offers fabulous views of Block Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean whether you walk the grounds or climb to the top tower. The climb entails 128 steps up a spiral staircase, 86 feet high, but well worth it for the view. There is a fascinating museum on the bottom level of the Lighthouse that includes information about the original lighthouse keeper’s lodging and parlor, displays on how the erosion control is helping maintain the property, a communication room where early keepers used Bivalve Fresnel lens to send light out to ships. These lenses were operational until 1987 when the lighthouse became automated, but the lens is still on display.
Events take place at the Lighthouse year round and this summer the tradition continues. A TRIATHLON takes place on July 15, 2018 that consists of a ½ mile swim, 14 mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run and starts at 6:30am onwards. It is sanctioned by the USA Triathlon and National Championship Qualifier. The LIGHTHOUSE WEEKEND is a wonderful event for visitors of all ages, but families with children won’t want to miss this one. It takes place the weekend of August 18th and 19th and is an all day event. The Kings of the Coast Pirates will have shows as will the 3rd Regiment of the 1776 Militia with reenactment shows. Crafts and gifts on sale include Colonial toys, leather goods and pottery exhibits. Come out and enjoy a step back in time at these festivities. For more information about Lighthouse hours, admission prices, registering for the Triathlon, or more about the Lighthouse Weekend, montauklighthouse.com. 631.668.2544
What would a trip to Montauk be without going fishing? Take a drive out of town and head down West Lake Drive to the Montauk Harbor where the charter boats and huge Viking party boats are docked. You’ll also see the historical, picturesque Gosman Restaurant and shops complex and numerous restaurants along the way. Your fishing options are extensive and you can either sign up for a full or half day outings. Montauk is known for its fertile fishing grounds and fishermen flock here for extraordinary catches, enjoying the pristine waters, breathtaking vistas and the excitement of sport fishing. Safety is a big issue with the charter boats in Montauk and the Captains follow a long list of rules and laws the Coast Guard mandates, which makes another positive note to a visitor’s fishing experience. When are the best times of year to fish in Montauk and what months yield what kind of fish? Starting with May, when the water temperatures start to rise, in the area of about 55 degrees, the fish start coming. Striped bass fishing begins in May and continues to about mid November. Fluke and sea bass start about a week or two later in May. Early spring signals the arrival of black fish and the tuna come in about the beginning of July, because they favor much warmer water. For those who like to go after shark, June is the month to begin booking your tours. What do you need to pack when you go on your fishing trip on a charter boat, besides your lunch? The boats supply everything from the rods, reel, bait, lures and adventure. The mate on board will even take the fish off the hook for you, clean, fillet and have your catch ready in plastic Baggies when you are ready to disembark at the end of your trip. Therefore, visitors to Montauk that did not plan on taking a charter boat trip can do so, last minute, without worrying about having the right equipment along with them. However, advanced reservations are suggested to avoid disappointment during the peak fishing months of June through October. One Captain related a story to me years ago about a group of enthusiastic guests from Korea that booked on his boat. They couldn’t wait to try the freshly caught Montauk fish and ate it sushi style right on board. They had even come prepared with containers of their own hot sauce and dived right into their catch of sea and striped base as soon as the mate had them cleaned and ready! I guess they knew the “sports fishing capital of the east” would not disappoint them! A day of fishing is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of nature surrounding the East End and a fabulous way to share time with friends and family. Whether it is a group from your office, a family reunion or just coming out by yourself for some personal recreation, being outside with the salt mist in your face and the sun shining overhead is like nothing else in the world. Treat yourself and come see what these lifelong fishermen have to offer their guests! Free parking is also available down by the dock area. Visit www.montauksportfishing.com
There are two great choices for horseback riding enthusiasts visiting Montauk. There is the Deep Hollow Ranch, a 22 acre property that is said to be the “oldest working cattle ranch in the United States back when East Hampton colonists sent their cattle there to graze.” They are located across from Theodore Roosevelt County Park, Montauk, NY. 631-668-2744.
Another place to go for horseback riding is Rita’s Stables, located at 3 West Lake Drive, one block off Montauk Highway (Route 27). Owned by Rita Foster, it offers riding tours, equestrian trails, outdoor activities, classes & workshops, Nature Park and live farm animals. 631 668-5453.
Besides visiting the Lighthouse interior and fabulous gift shop, the surrounding grounds are perfect for hiking or taking a nature stroll. The lighthouse sits on “Turtle Hill”, named because of its rounded “turtle” shape. On the beaches below, a whole world of beach creatures, both on and off land, inhabit this beautiful area. If you walk down the hill onto a narrow path, boarded by beach grass, shrubs and brush, you might see animal footprints in the sand. The area around the Lighthouse and rural parts of the East End are populated with a host of wildlife. Most of them are nocturnal and not often seen by beach goers enjoying the sun and surf during the day. However, these “beach creatures” leave their mark behind and knowing what their footprints look like can tell a sharp eyed naturalist what animals live in the area. At Montauk Point there are deer, raccoon, fox, rabbit and non poisonous snakes. Sometimes a strong odor would have you believe there is a skunk in the area. Actually, it is a fox urinating and “marking its territory”. Footprints or tracks for each animal differ. A fox walks in a straight line, one foot after the other. A dog’s foot prints wander, one here and one there. Deer track are larger, with an adult about three inches and a fawn much smaller. If you continue walking the sandy trail, you’ll notice wild grapes and beach plum bushes, with their tiny lavender blossoms. You’ll also see fishing boats bobbing off in the distance and gulls swooping and diving into the water feeding on tiny off shore fish swimming in shallow water. Coming off the small hill, you will round a bend that leads directly to “Money Pond”. Legend has this name derived from the adventures of Captain Kidd. Back in 1699 he landed at Montauk and it’s believed he buried his treasure in this area. Yet to be found, it makes fascinating trivia for history buffs and visitors to the Point. Money Pond is filled with tall reeds which are not native to this area. Probably from Africa or Eurasia, the reeds had taken over the pond and thrown off the balance of nature. The plants and animals that used to live in the pond were crowded out by the reeds extensive overgrowth. Now no lily pods, fish or herons and egrets live here. With no fish to eat, the birds don’t come to the pond. And this problem is one that arises from introducing plants to an area they don’t normally grow naturally in.
The Montauk Historical Society hosts craft fairs throughout the summer on the grounds of the Second House Museum, located across from the IGA supermarket. The backbone of these annual craft fairs are the scores of local Montauk residents that give countess hours of their time volunteering to make each fair the success that it is. Artisans from around the country participate in these fairs and shoppers will find the most unique and beautiful hand crafted artifacts that range from jewelry, paintings, sculptures, pottery, leather goods, gourmet items, woodcrafts, furniture and home décor items among the scores of beautiful items to purchase. Mark your calendar for the 2018 Craft Fairs on July 14-15, August 11-12 and September 22-23rd. www.montaukhistoricalsociety.org
Golf or Tennis Anyone?
Here is another gem you’ll find in Montauk, less than two miles out of town. The Montauk Downs State Park offers an 18 hole championship golf course, driving range, pro shop, tennis courts, swimming pool and restaurant facilities. It is open to the public and no membership is required. It is a perfect place to satisfy every member of the family and rates for these amenities are quite reasonable compared to what you’d pay in a private club. Stop by and see the beauty of this hill top complex and enjoy a day participating in the sport of your choice! For more information call (631) 668-5000 or visit:
It is easy to see why repeat visits to Montauk are necessary to enjoy all of the wonderful things there are to do here! Bring the family, invite your friends and be part of all the varied experiences right here in Montauk!