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 July
Wednesday Evening Beach Concerts
6pm, Parking Lot B
Call 732-291-7733 to confirm dates or visit Sandy Hook Foundation website.
7/1 - British Invasion Tribute (Beatles)
7/8 - Tim McLoone and the Shirlies
7/15 - Carl Gentry Band
7/22 - Motor City Review
7/29 - Pat Guadagno and Candle Brothers
Fort Hancock Bike Tours
7/11 & 7/18, 9:30-11:30am, Meet at Ferry Landing
Take a three-mile, guided tour of the batteries, historic structures and beaches. Bring a bike helmet. Call 732-872-5970 for reservations.
Stars of Sandy Hook
7/11, 9-11pm, Lot E Beach Plaza
Join a park ranger and the Amateur Astronomers Association to view Venus at its highest point. Bring binoculars and/or telescopes.
7/16, 6-8pm, Spermaceti Cove U.S. Life Saving Station Parking
Walk both bayside and ocean to find osprey, herons, and egrets with Monmouth County Audubon Society. Bring binoculars, insect repellant, and wear comfortable shoes.
7/17 & 7/31, 9am-1:30pm, Building 18
Enjoy seining, shell collecting, and coastal arts and crafts at this hands-on, feet wet program for students grades 1-3. $40 for Littoral members, $50 for nonmembers. Call 732-291-0055 to register.
7/23, 6pm, Building 18
Discover diverse wildlife with the American Littoral Society. Enjoy a short talk followed by a seining adventure at Horseshoe Cove. Wear clothes and shoes that can get wet. Call 732-291-0055 for reservations.
Campfire on the Beach
7/24, 7:30-9pm, Parking Lot E
Sing silly songs, and hear stories from days of yore. Bring beach blankets or chairs, snacks, bug spray, family and friends!
Holly Forest Night Prowl
7/25, 7:30-9pm, Parking Lot E
Explore the holly forest on this sensory walk led by a park ranger. Great for the whole family!
31st Annual All-Women Lifeguard Tournament
7/29, 9am-6pm, Beach Parking Lot E
Watch this exciting annual competition, representing beach patrols from the East Coast and elsewhere.
Night Hike—Full Buck Moon
7/31, 7:30-9pm, Parking Lot E
Explore the Hook and try night seining under a full buck moon—when bucks begin to grow new antlers. Bring a flashlight, bug repellant, and wear shoes you can get wet. Call 732-872-5970 for reservations.
History, swimming, windsurfing, surfing, fishing, strolling, boating, hiking, bird watching, biking and picnicking.