From Manhattan to Montauk : Exploring Long Island, New York

5/22/2014 07:33:00 PM

Long Island, The name and place fascinated me ever since I read "The Great Gatsby" sure it was imaginative, I know not. but when I moved to New York around this time last year, I had this one wish to explore the beaches of east end, which earlier I thought never existed, perhaps biking or trekking the stretch. I finally had a chance to discover a good large part of Long Island last week and it was nothing less than epic, and today after a long hiatus, I am writing about that experience and sharing glimpses of the place.

A ~1400 sq miles island in the state of New York, east of Manhattan is most likely famous for rich people? well I must have been speculating until last week. Beach side villas, Orchards and rich counties, its nothing less than a greater suburb for sure. But that wasn't really my motivation to visit the island, and when I say the island, I am talking about the stretch beyond Queens and Brooklyn, which are indeed on Long Island only but hardly referred as such. I was interested in seeing the Long Island Strip, the fire Island, the Green Forest areas I could see on the map, Shelter Island and Montauk. Interesting Small Towns, and ancient counties always add charm to these trips for me. Having said that, from what I have learned, half the world does not think of New York beyond the tall skyline of Manhattan, Let me tell you, The beaches exist and so do the mountains and forests, in New York. Yes.

Across the robert moses's, a five miles long cleanest beach in long island, this is the view from Captree state park. Small area, lovely nonetheless. #newyork #longisland #beaches #statepark

Four of my friends had booked for Skydiving in Long Island for last week, and some whale watching in Cape May. I was interested in doing none, pretty much, and the reason being, the last time I wanted to sky dive was sometime in 2008. 6 years and I was no longer fascinated by it. The weather in Cape May, wasn't promising enough and that gave us good reason to Just go explore Long Island strip from one end to the other and as it happened, I did dive and honestly the view was gorgeous, and indeed way beyond my expectations, But Lets first talk about the beach strip.

We started around 2 PM on Saturday, and lost a lot of time, in Manhattan itself. Which honestly, is a nightmare for cars. The Idea was to enter the island via brooklyn Bridge and start somewhere in Roxbury, ( brings a smile on the face, that name doesn't it. I remember the movie and the song Yup. ) not taking the tradtional route. But we ended by taking 495- Queens Mid town tunnel and from there, the Long Island Expressway and then a right from Meadow Lake on Van Wyck Expy towards JFK airport, clearly a big round before we reach the our first stop, the Atlantic Beach.


That, "You can never feel the place until you see it with your very own eyes, no matter how many videos or images you may have seen", is my belief. and thats why traveling is important. Atlantic beach, The Silver Point Country Park, and the entire stretch of Long beach, which is the second beach strip towards the east from NYC on the long Island, is one of the poshest area with beautiful houses and private beaches and sunny town charm. At least I dint imagine in that way. the beach  though, as I mentioned seemed inaccessible and since we were anyway headed towards Jones Beach State Park, we made a quick stop at the mighty Starbucks and drove ahead.


Jones Beach, apparently the part of a collective number of state parks that Fire Island has, a long stretch of flat beach which I believe is something thats constructed somehow, with a immediate deep ocean, and that is not to get it flooded, seemed to have slight still water with algae on the shore, which i was totally apprehensive about putting my feet in to. another interesting fact thing, the number of trash boxes on the beach.. they were spread over the entire beach like decorative and definitely had me imagined, how would they look like in the night, if these all had bulbs fixed in and were all lit in the night. I remembered a similar yet small scale vision in the Calangute beach of GOA India.


The Next stop rather a round about that we thought was Robert Moses, was Beautiful and somewhat deserted CapTree, I have to mention here that, none of these places are actually deserted, enroute Captree on the JBSP was the fishing boat haven and I am sure on a shiny day it would 've been packed with lots to do in the South Oyster Bay and Tobay Beach Specially. Today was rather relaxed. I loved the view of the bridge from Captree. One of the most Beautiful. Crossing the Bridge I was hoping to continue driving towards Montauk, but the further road was blocked and finally I came to understanding there is not really a full island to island connectivity. so we have to return back to Montauk highway, and we headed towards Shirley and Smith Point Beach.


Did I mention Sky Diving earlier in the post? Oh yes I did. So East Moriches where we were supposed to reach next morning at 7:30AM, isn't more than 10 miles from Shirley, another beautiful small town on the long island stretch. so we decided to be stay in Shirley for little longer before heading to Medford another community close by for the overnight stay. Shirley's Smith Point beach has a long strip that can be used for beach trek, night camping and other smaller water sports. however, I didn't find high waves so far. so definitely not a place for surfing activity this area. then there were of course few White tail Long Island Native Deer 4 or 5 in number that we spotted there, beautiful creature, which first i wonder, as to how they were here in the middle of the parking lot, but later when I reached back home and researched a little, I found one of the news from Dec 13, mentioning a cull of 3000 deer, reason being the excessive population and those being a threat to humanity since they carry the lyme disease, which by the way, human too, are the carrier. Sad reality, Well having said that, thats the only place where we saw any wildlife except few geese or ducks, may be few cats yeah. in the rest of the trip. The Next day all more about forests and greenery.

While you drive in the midst of the forests of long island, You might get a feeling of serenity and peace and that the Green Forests and lakes and backwaters are all for yourself to wonder. the truth is the entire area is heavily populated with many farmhouses, orchards, and vineyards. Bridge Hampton surely made an impression on me, but before that was the dive.

Windy and cold or not so, the fishing activity was in full swing this saturday at smith point beach, in #longisland thankfully some sunset colors n clouds also began to show up, perfect for me to get out and shoot #newyork #nyc #poonamparihar

The Beauty that Long Island is can not be just explored in road trips and forest hikes. No doubt, after hanging there for few seconds about 9000 feet in the air, and looking down wide-eyed I can finally recommend, to those like me, who love an amalgamation of all. I had signed up only the night before, and I am glad I did. 516-Skydive though promised me a VIP dive, since I was the 5th and last one to register, and first to go, but then they took another of their new employee along in the plane, so honestly nothing as such of VIP treatment that I got flying along with 4 more people instead of just 2 more. But it was good nonetheless. the staff was really nice. and it was fun. as far as the dive is concerned. I have done Parasailing many times, I am always looking down from the plane window shooting aerials, and I have climbed 17000 ft and seen the glaciers and mountains from up above. this is perhaps why I was not interested in a tandem dive now, but then I realize it will take me some work and stamina to hold down that parachute and get back on earth. I also had some problem breathing while in the arch position because of the air pressure, which I now feels, was perhaps because I may have had my nose bridge parallel the ground, i.e. not really the arch but half arch, so this is one thing to explore if I go diving again, plus of course how much that harness hurts in your thighs when you're getting down. Now since I love aerial photography and according to me, jumping with a chute on, should be a basic life saving skill everyone interested in aviation must learn, I may take up the certification in time to come.


Long Island, well connected via LIRR and that is all the way to Montauk, east end tip is great, because if you want to visit sections of it,  and dont want to drive, you can just take a train from Penn Station in Manhattan and it will only take you few hours, 2 or 3. I am sure the buses are aplenty as well. We were planning to visit Shelter Island & Mashomack Preserve towards Long Island Sound But a Good lunch at Shagmong in Montauk Town and then only a little exploration the light house took us towards the end of the day.


The Light house that I was dreaming about for quite sometime is actually an NHS ie. National Historic Site which I din't google much about, and later found is extremely touristy. :-/ But The 360 degree view from the top of the light house is gorgeous, and definitely worth going once. I would have spend some time exploring the state park and the beach perhaps, but already post 3 PM and we drove back to NYC leaving the north bunch of the islands for the upcoming trip. Knowing the colors of late spring looking so stunning from up above, I am sure I'll be back in falls to sock in all the reds and orange of the Long Island.


all images jpeg straight out of camera, I will process a few and upload on flickr. some of the shots exception to these are instagram shares that I did on the way, You can find more images here. I will be out tomorrow traveling to West Virginia, will share the images and story from the road, on twitter / facebook & instagram / Flickr

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  1. This is as I had imagined, USA has a lot of natural beauty even if the places are famous and crowded for US standards. Great post

    1. Thank you! Yes Indeed Great place to explore beautiful landscapes this country.

  2. Lovely article.Keep writing great work!!!


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