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 June
Beach Concert Series
Wednesdays, 6pm, beginning 6/12, Lot E
Rock out at these free summer concerts, weather permitting. Note that beach parking fees are in effect until 5 p.m.
6/12: Pat Guadagno & the Candle Bros.
Coastal Defense Day
6/1, 11am-5pm, Battery Gunnison
See Battery Gunnison/New Peck and its 6-inch guns as they were in June 1943. Army Ground Forces Association volunteers in World War II uniforms will also show visitors how to load guns and track ships using artillery math in the plotting room.
Ocean Fun Day
6/9, 11am-3pm, Barracks 22, Fort Hancock
Join special tours and learn about conservation. Lighthouse tours begin at 11am. Battery Potter and Mortar Battery tours start at 1pm.
Campfire on the Beach
6/18, 7:30-9pm, Parking Lot E, Southern chute
Enjoy sing-alongs and hear true stories about the history and mystery of Sandy Hook. Bring beach blankets, snacks and insect repellent. Call 732-872-5970 for more information.
Splishy, Splashy, Squishy: Let's go Seining!
6/19, 10-11am, Horseshoe Cove
Bring the kids ages 4-6 for this Junior Jr. Ranger program. Free, call 732-872-5970 for info and reservations.
6/19, 6:30-8pm, Parking Lot C
Explore Sandy Hook's ecosystem and history on a one mile night hike. Wear good walking shoes and insect repellent. Call 732-872-5970 for reservations.
6/20, 6-8pm, Beach Area B
Join the Audubon Society for a two mile evening bird walk to view nesting piping plovers along the beach and terns, herons, and egrets along the bayside. Bring binoculars, insect repellent and comfortable shoes.
Summer Solstice Walk
6/21, 7-9pm, Guardian Park
Take a two mile stroll on the Hook on the longest day of the year. Sit on the front port of the Littoral Society, bring a dinner, and enjoy the sunset. Free, call 732-291-0055 for reservations.
Junior Ranger Horseshoe Crab
6/25, 6-7:30pm, Parking Lot B
Bring the kids ages 7-12 to find, see and feel living fossils from the dinosaur age that still swim along the shores. Free, call 732-872-5970 for info and reservations.
Firefighting for "Little Squirts"
6/26, 10-11am, Fire Station Number 2 (across from lighthouse).
Bring the kids ages 4-6 for this Junior Jr. Ranger program. Free, call 732- 872-5970 for info and reservations.
Family Night: A Seining Adventure
6/27, 6-8pm, Sandy Hook, Building 18
Listen to a talk, then head over to Horseshoe Cove with the American Littoral Society to pull the 40-foot seine net through Sandy Hook Bay. Wear shoes and clothes that can get wet. Call 732-291-0055 for reservations. Members and family, $10; non-members, $25.
Annual events include the summer Sandy Hook Beach Concert Series, Fort Hancock Day, and the All-Women Lifeguard Tournament.
See special programs page for canoeing program.
History, swimming, windsurfing, surfing, fishing, strolling, boating, hiking, bird watching, biking and picnicking.