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Sandy Hook



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:

Car: Get map & directions to Sandy Hook by car.

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.


Do I need a permit?


Are pets allowed?


Gateway NRA (NPS), 732-872-5970
Sandy Hook Foundation, 732-291-7733


Fort Hancock

National Park Service

Sandy Hook

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 August

Art Exhibit: Celebrating the Sandy Hook Lighthouse's 250th Birthday


Learn about some of the former lighthouse keepers and lighthouse assistant keepers and how the lighthouse has withstood the test of time at the Light Keepers Quatrers.

Beach Concerts

8/6 - Pat Guadagno & the Candle Brothers (Rock)

8/13 - JoBonnano & Godsons of Soul (Rock & R B)

8/20 - The Carl Gentry Band (Classic Rock)

6pm, Beach E

Note: weather cancellations are made after 2pm the day of the concert. Call 732-291-7733 or check the Sandy Hook Foundation website for updates. Beach parking fees are in effect until 5pm.

American Littoral Society—Littoral Learners

8/1, 8/8, 8/15 & 8/22, 9:30am-1pm, Officers Row, Building 18

For students grades 5-8. Get an in-depth introduction to marine science from American Littoral Society educators. Learn about the diverse habitats of Sandy Hook and go seining in the bay to examine the marine species that live there. Bring lunch and a change of clothes. $15 for members, $25 for nonmembers. Call 732-291-0055 to make a reservation.

American Littoral Society—Underwater Robotics

8/6, 9am-3:30pm, Officers Row, Building 18

Using products found in your local hardware store students ages 10 and up work in teams to build underwater robots. Students learn about concepts including buoyancy, circuitry, waterproofing and tool safety. The teams will test out the robots in Sandy Hook bay. Student must bring a lunch. $50 for American Littoral Society members, $65 for nonmembers. Call 732-291-0055 to make a reservation.

American Littoral Society—Coastal Explorer

8/7, 8/14 & 8/21, 9:30am-1pm, Officers Row, Building 18

For students grades 1-4. Enjoy a morning of seining and shell collecting with American Littoral Society educators. Afterwards, return to the Society headquarters for coastal arts and crafts. Students should bring lunch and a change of clothes. $15 for Society members, $25 for nonmembers. Call 732-291-0055 for more information.

Campfire on the Beach

8/8 & 8/29, 7:30-9pm, Parking Lot E, Southern Chute

Sing silly Sandy Hook songs and tell stories around the campfire. Participants are encouraged to bring beach blankets, chairs, snacks, bug spray and friends! Free! Call 732-872-5970 for more information.

Battery Gunnison/New Peck Preserved

8/9, 12-6pm

Drop by and visit with the volunteers from the Army Ground Forces Association as they perform restoration projects. Learn more about the battery's role in defending New York Harbor in September 1943.

Night Hike

8/9, 7:30-9pm, Parking Lot E-Beach Plaza

Are you feeling adventurous? Explore various parts of the Sandy Hook ecosystem by night on this one-mile hike with a park ranger. Bring a flashlight, bug repellant and shoes you can get wet. Free, call 732-872-5970 to make a reservation.

American Littoral Society—Sunset Seining

8/12 & 8/26, 6-8pm, Officers Row, Building 18

Head to Sandy Hook Bay for a seining adventure! Participants are invited to pull a 40-foot net through the bay and examine the creatures that get trapped. Wear comfortable clothing and water shoes. $5 per person, free for American Littoral Society members. Call 732-291-0055 to make a reservation.

American Littoral Society—Kids Surf Fishing Clinic

8/13, 10am-1:30pm, Officers Row, Building 18

Join American Littoral Society staff for a day of surf fishing and instruction on the beach. Instruction will cover the basics of casting, knot tying, lure/bait selection, and "reading" a beach. All skill levels will be accommodated. Rods, reels and tackle will be provided. $25 for members, $35 for nonmembers. Call 732-291-0055 for more information.

Stars of Sandy Hook

8/16, 8-10pm, Parking Lot E

Join a park ranger and the Amateur Astronomers Association on the beach to view the night sky. Bring a telescope and bug repellant.

Fort Hancock Bike Tour

8/17, 5-7pm, Ferry Landing

Take a three-mile guided tour with a park ranger. Explore the batteries, historic structures and beaches. Bring a helmet. Call 732-872-5970 to make a reservation.

Monmouth County Audubon Society Bird Walk

8/21, 6-8pm, Spermaceti Cove U.S. Life Saving Station Parking Lot, between Lots D and E

Look for piping plover and tern on this two-mile walk along the shore of Sandy Hook. Bring binoculars, bug repellant and wear comfortable shoes.

American Littoral Society—Shorebirds and Wild Edibles

8/30, 6-8pm, Officers Row, Building 18

Join American Littoral Society naturalists on a hike to one of the most secluded beaches on Sandy Hook. Identify the Hook's edible plants that were an important food source for Native Americans. Observe shorebirds along the way. Bring walking shoes, binoculars, and sunscreen. Free for Society members, $5 for nonmembers. Call 732-291-0055 to make a reservation.

Special Programs

Annual events include the summer Sandy Hook Beach Concert Series, Fort Hancock Day, and the All-Women Lifeguard Tournament.

Other Activities

History, swimming, windsurfing, surfing, fishing, strolling, boating, hiking, bird watching, biking and picnicking.

See NPS Sandy Hook Map Brochure.