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 October
Coastal Naturalist Series
10/4, 8:30-11am and 10/6, 5:30-8pm
Re-discover New Jersey's coast with professional naturalists at this three-day series hosted by the American Littoral Society. Meet at Sandy Hook to explore beach, bay, marsh and maritime forest. Learn to recognize plants and animals found in costal habitats. Participants will receive a copy of the ALS costal field guide. Fee is $99.
Monarch Butterfly Walk
10/11, 10-11:30am, Beach Plaza, Lot E
This remarkable insect, whose migration route ends in Mexico, is featured on this ranger-led tour. Call 732-872-5970 to make reservations.
New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge Weekend
10/18 & 10/19, 8am-6pm, Sandy Hook Lighthouse
The Sandy Hook Light is one of the eleven New Jersey Lighthouses along the Atlantic Coastline and Delaware Bay open for tours this weekend at this annual event, sponsored by the NJ Lighthouse Society. For more information, visit www.njlhs.org.
Audubon Society Fall Bird Walk
10/19, 10am-12pm, Spermaceti Cove, between Lots D and E
Join MCAS for a walk along the ocean and bayside to look for fall species migrants. Wear comfortable shoes and bring binoculars. Free.
World War II Defense Lantern Tour
10/24, 6:30-9:30pm, Fort Hancock Museum
Volunteer living historians from the Army Ground Forces Association in uniform as World War II coast artillery soldiers will take you on a walk that includes several seacoast gun batteries of Fort Hancock Battery Gunnison/New Peck. Bring a flashlight.
Clean Ocean Action 25th Annual Beach Sweep
10/25, 9am-12:30pm, Lot Delta, Seagull's Nest Lot
Spend the morning cleaning Sandy hook's beaches. Bring gloves, attend rain or shine and dress for the weather. Closed, hard-soled shoes are recommended. Individuals, families and organized groups are welcome. Groups of 10 or more are asked to register in advance by visiting cleanocernaction.org or by calling 732-872-0111.
Boy Scout Environmental Science Merit Badge
10/25, 10am-2pm, NJ Sea Grant Consortium, Building 22
Explore the maritime environment to earn a BSA badge and learn about ecology through seining, surveying marsh vegetation and discovering the impacts of the different types of pollution through laboratory experiments with NJ Sea Grant Consortium educators. Open to individual boy scouts. Go to NJSGC badge programs page or call 732-872-1300 ext. 20
American Littoral Society Spooky Ghost Tales/Ghost of Fort Hancock
10/30, 7:30-10pm, Officers Row, Building 18
Get into the Halloween spirit on a moonlit walk around Fort Hancock where ghosts have been known to linger. Cider and snacks provided. Bring flashlights. $5 per person, reservations are required. Call Megan at 732-291-0055 or write to email@example.com.
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.