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
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.
7/2 - British Invasion Tribute
7/9 - Brian Kirk & The Jirks
7/16 - Tim McLoone & the Shirleys
7/23 - Rip Tide / The Haven
7/30 - Motor City Revue
6pm, Beach E
Note: weather cancellations are made by 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.
Fort Hancock Bike Tour
Join a ranger on this bike tour of Sandy Hook. Highlights include historic batteries, structures and breaches. Bring a helmet. Call 732-872-5970 to reserve.
American Littoral Society—Sunset Seining
7/8, 6-8pm, Building 18
Enjoy a short talk, then head over to Horseshoe Crab Cove on Sandy Hook Bay for a seining adventure. Participants are invited to pull a 40-foot net through the bay and learn about the fish and critters that get caught. 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—Underwater Robotics
7/10, 9am-3:30pm, Building 18
sing 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.
Night Hike—Full Buck Moon
7/12, 7:30-9pm, Parking Lot E
Explore Sandy Hook's eco system during the Full Buck Moon. This one-mile hike features night seining. Bring bug repellent, a flashlight and wear shoes that can get wet. Call 732-872-5970 to make reservations.
Battery Gunnison/New Peck Preserved
The Army Ground Forces Association offers visitor the opportunity to learn more about the history of Fort Hancock and the restoration projects at Battery Gunnison and New Peck.
Campfire on the Beach
7/18, 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.
American Littoral Society—Coastal Explorer
7/24, 9:30am-1pm, 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.
Monmouth County Audubon Society Bird Walk
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—Littoral Learners
7/25, 9:30am-1pm, 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.
Holly Forest Night Prowl
7/26, 7:30-9pm, Parking Lot E
Explore Sandy Hook's Holly Forest on this one-mile sensory walk led by a ranger.
American Littoral Society—Sunset Seining
7/29, 6-8pm, 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.
30th All-Women Lifeguard Tournament
See these skilled and ultra-fit lifeguards compete in a day of races and rescues, including the Ironwoman and Ocean-Kayak Challenges.
Annual events include the summer Sandy Hook Beach Concert Series, Fort Hancock Day, and the All-Women Lifeguard Tournament.
History, swimming, windsurfing, surfing, fishing, strolling, boating, hiking, bird watching, biking and picnicking.