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 April
Early Spring Migrants
4/12, 10am, Visitor Center Parking Lot
Join Linda Mack of Monmouth County Audubon to check for early spring migrants on the Hook. Bring binoculars and wear comfortable shoes.
Old Dune Trail Walk
4/17, 1pm, Building 18
Join American Littoral Society naturalists for a walk through the dune trail and maritime forest, to see the diversity in flora and fauna on the Hook. Bring binoculars and a camera. Call 732-291-0055 for reservations.
Arbor Day Tree Walk
4/24, 2-4pm, Building 18
Explore the Hook's unique ecosystem with American Littoral Society naturalists and learn to identify trees and plants. Bring binoculars and a camera to capture the variety of flora and fauna. Call 732-291-0055 for information.
Surf Fishing Clinic
4/25, 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.
Spring Beach Sweep
4/25, 9am-12:30pm, Parking Lot D
Volunteer with family and friends in Clean Ocean Action's 30th anniversary celebration of Beach Sweeps—a clean-up event occurring at 70+ locations throughout New Jersey, including Sandy Hook. Register at cleanoceanaction.org.
Oceanography Merit Badge
4/25, 10am-2pm, Building 22
Earn a Boy Scouts of America Oceanography Merit Badge by seining, studying waves and conducting lab experiments with the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium. Open to individual boy scouts. Fee program. Call 732-872-1300 ext. 20 for reservations.
History, swimming, windsurfing, surfing, fishing, strolling, boating, hiking, bird watching, biking and picnicking.