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 May
Warblers and More
5/3, 7:45am, Visitor Center Parking Lot
Join Monmouth County Audubon on a morning hike to look for warblers and other species. Bring binoculars and wear comfortable shoes.
Spring Migration Workshop
5/8, 8:30am, Building 18
Join American Littoral Society naturalists for an early morning walk to see wintering birds depart for summer feeding grounds. Call 732-291-0055 for reservations.
Surf Fishing Clinic
5/9, 8am, Building 18
Learn the basics of surf fishing including casting, knot-tying and lure/bait selection with the American Littoral Society. All skill levels welcomed. Fee program. Call 732-291-0055 for information.
Horseshoe Crab Walk
5/15, 6-8pm, Parking Lot B
Get up close and personal with these living fossils as they spawn, on an evening walk of Plum Island with the American Littoral Society. Wear waterproof footwear. Call 732-291-0055 for reservations.
Ocean Fun Day
5/17, 11am-3pm, Sea Grant Barracks
Learn to seine, comb the beach, fish and much more with New Jersey scientists and researchers at the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium.
Stars of Sandy Hook
5/23, 8:30-11pm, Parking Lot E
Join the Amateur Astronomers Association and the National Park Service to view Saturn, as its face is fully illuminated by the Sun, on its closest approach to the Earth. Dress for the weather and bring a telescope.
History, swimming, windsurfing, surfing, fishing, strolling, boating, hiking, bird watching, biking and picnicking.