Monmouth County, New Jersey.
Ferry: In summer, take the New York Waterway or Seastreak ferry from Manhattan to Fort Hancock, then the free shuttle bus to North Beach, Gunnison Beach or Beach Area E. Off-season, take Seastreak's daily commuter ferry to nearby Atlantic Highlands, NJ.
Ferry departure points in NYC:
Public Transit: Take NJ Transit for transit within NJ. Bus 834 to Highlands drops off near park entrance. NJT's North Jersey Coast train line to Red Bank links to Bus 834.
Take Academy Lines for bus from NYC to Highlands.
Open daily, dawn-dusk.
The Sandy Hook Visitor Center, Lighthouse Keepers' Quarters and Barn, Multi-Use Pathway, and restrooms at all six beach centers are wheelchair accessible. Beach wheelchairs are available at the Visitor Center. All parking lots have handicapped spaces. Get more information.
A barrier beach peninsula at the northern tip of the Jersey shore
Sandy Hook—part of Gateway National Recreation Area—is a 2,044-acre barrier beach peninsula at the northern tip of the New Jersey shore. This perennially popular destination is just a quick trip by car or ferry from Manhattan or inland New Jersey and offers pristine beaches, stunning views of the harbor and the New York skyline, as well as historical landmarks including Fort Hancock and the Sandy Hook Lighthouse. Sandy Hook comes alive during the summer and is always a busy weekend destination, offering a wide range of activities that highlight nature, history, and outdoor recreation.
With seven beaches open to the public, the peninsula has room for everyone, from sunbathers to fisherman. Strong swimmers can ride the ocean waves or try their hand at windsurfing, canoeing or kayaking in the bay while others soak up the rays on the beach. Alternatively, the beach is a beautiful place to walk and observe shore birds and other wild marine species. In the evening, the beach offers a prime spot to see the lights of New York Harbor. Special evening programming includes summer beach concerts hosted by the Sandy Hook Foundation and family campfires with national park rangers.
Sandy Hook is also a wonderful destination for nature enthusiasts. A network of scenic hiking and multiuse trails in the famous Holly Forest provides wonderful opportunities for visitors to see wildlife. Occasional ranger-led night hikes through the forest also give the adventurous an exciting sensory experience.
Sandy Hook is not just a refuge for urbanites, but is also an oasis for many varieties of flora and fauna that thrive on the site's unique ecology. Horseshoe crabs and other critters are the focus of many educational hands-on park programs for both children and adults, but for many, the site's real stars are the osprey and piping plovers that nest in Sandy Hook's carefully maintained salt marshes. The sensitive nesting habitats of these unique birds are protected by the National Park Service and other groups. Visitors can take part in a variety of birding activities, including tours led by local bird experts. With over 300 species seen at Sandy Hook, visitors are sure to spot some interesting feathered residents.
For history buffs, Sandy Hook offers the historic district of Fort Hancock, with gun batteries and military structures dating from 1895 and the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operated lighthouse in the United States. Ranger-led tours of the lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters are available periodically.
Things to Do
Special Events in September
Canoeing on Sandy Hook
9/6, 9/14, 9/21 & 9/27, 9:15am-12pm, U.S. Life-Saving Station, between Lot D and E
Explore Sandy Hook Bay from an ideal vantage point -- the water itself. Rangers will guide you on this two mile, two and one half hour tour of the bayside waters and Skeleton Hill Island. Call 732-872-5970 to reserve.
Seining on Sandy Hook Bay
9/6, 9/13, 9/20 & 9/28, 10-11:30am, Horseshoe Cove
Join a park ranger to seine the waters of Sandy Hook Bay. September is the perfect time of year to observe saltwater creatures before they migrate to warmer waters to reproduce.
Iron Girl Triathlon
Cheer on over 3,000 participants as they swim, bike and run to support breast cancer research. For more information, visit irongirl.com
Harvest Moon Prowl
9/7, 7-8:30pm, Beach Plaza Lot E
Bring a flashlight on the night walk that utilizes the five senses. Call 732-872-5970 to make a reservation.
Battery Gunnison/New Peck Preserved
Learn about NY Harbor defense from members of the Army Ground Forces Association, a volunteer group responsible for restoring Battery Gunnison and New Peck.
Stars of Sandy Hook
9/13, 7:30-9pm, Beach Lot E
Join a ranger and learn how to read a star chart to find the most brilliant stars of the night. Telescopes will be provided. Call 732-872-5970 to make reservations.
Cold War Day
9/14, 12-4pm, Parking Lot L at Horseshoe Cove
Visit a Nike Missile Radar site restored to the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Visit and tour a Nike launch site and learn about why these sites were essential to national security during the Cold War era.
Fall Equinox Walk
9/23, 6-8pm, Guardian Park
Boy Scout Environmental Science Merit Badge
9/27, 10am-3pm, NJ Sea Grant Consortium, Building 22
Earn a BSA badge and learn about ecology through seining, surveying marsh vegetation. Discover the impacts of pollution through laboratory experiments with Consortium educators. For details, go to NJSGC badge programs page or call 732-872-1300 ext 20.
Lighthouse to Lighthouse Tour
9/28, 5-7pm, Sandy Hook Keepers Quarters
Climb the Sandy Hook Lighthouse starting at 5pm, then caravan to the Twin Lights State Historic Site in the Highlands to climb the south tower there. Call 732-872-5970 to make reservations.
Coastal Naturalist Series
9/29, 5:30-8pm, Building 18
Re-discover New Jersey's coast with professional naturalists at this three-day series hosted by the American Littoral Society. Sessions on 9/29, 10/4 & 10/6 will explore beach, bay, marsh and maritime forest. $99 fee includes a copy of the ALS coastal field guide.
BATTERY POTTER - Saturdays, 9/6-27, 1:30-4:30pm
MORTAR BATTERY - Sundays, 9/7-28, 1:30-4:30pm
NIKE MISSLIE RADAR SITE - 9/6, 9/24 & 9/27, 12-4pm, meet at Horseshoe Cove parking lot L
History, swimming, windsurfing, surfing, fishing, strolling, boating, hiking, bird watching, biking and picnicking.