There are a couple of notable beaches along the coast of Montauk, which lies at the very eastern tip of Long Island in New York. Having seen the Montauk Lighthouse already, and not wanting to join the crowds at some of the better-known beaches like Gin Beach and Ditch Plains, we opted to book a beach hotel near the downtown area of the village of Montauk and just enjoy a leisurely day seaside.
It was just after Memorial Day weekend, and we had quite forgotten that the temperature is normally around ten degrees cooler out at the tip of Long Island than it is in Manhattan. So, while sunbathers in the city were enjoying around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny skies, we rolled into 65 degree weather and clouds. Don’t be too dismayed – while we didn’t exactly get our beach day sunning ourselves on the shore, there was a lot to enjoy in the area to keep us happy.
We got up early Saturday morning to catch the Long Island Railroad out to Montauk, arriving just before 11:00am. The first order of business was to get some lunch, so we headed to 668 Gig Shack, a laid-back restaurant with a Caribbean vibe and great food, with music in the evenings. I had their fish sandwich, and it was fresh and delicious, fried crispy but light with just the right amount of tartar sauce tucked underneath a thick slice of tomato and crunchy lettuce. We then checked into our hotel, A Wave Inn. While it has only basic amenities, it fit our budget and you can’t beat being a five minute walk to the beach.
Despite the chill in the air, we threw on some hoodies and went for a walk on the beach. Without the crowds, it was pleasant to hear the crash of the waves and to have unobstructed views out onto the vastness of the Atlantic ocean. Talk about a change of scenery!
To toast our arrival in Montauk after our walk, we headed over to the Montauk Brewing Company, which is walking distance away. The outdoor patio was packed as per the usual, and soon we had found a spot to stand and were sipping on our Summer Ales.
There was a pizzeria next door, and the smell of pizza wafted over and made us hungry….we thought about getting a few slices, but had planned for a nice lobster dinner, so instead we made our way to MTK Lobster House. Unfortunately, the effects of the recent Covid epidemic could be seen here, as there weren’t enough staff to serve more than a couple of tables at a time….we were told the wait would be over an hour.
We made the decision to take an Uber over to the other side of Montauk, where I was sure we’d have a better dinner experience at the well known Gossman’s seafood restaurant. Unfortunately, after paying over $15 for the ride we arrived at Gossman’s only to find the same situation there. Apparently, all over Montauk they were struggling to keep the restaurants staffed and the wait was over an hour here as well. So, we went instead to the Gossman’s Clam Bar next door, got steamed lobsters and corn to go, and huddled in the cold in the outside seating area to dig in. We were quite cold, and even at around $30 the lobster plates were not that filling. We went back for some fries and tacos and managed to fill ourselves for dinner, but our thoughts were that grabbing some slices of pizza next to the Montauk Brewing Company would have been a better idea.
After some rest that night, we got up early and headed out for one of the best brunch spots in town, Anthony’s Pancake House. It is clean and well-run, we were seated quickly and in no time enjoying our pancakes, eggs and coffee. Afterwards we walked around the village, wondering where all the crowds of past visits had gone…..at least there were no lines to get into Joni’s for a smoothie. Painted a bright yellow with a surfboard on top, it’s a cheery place to get anything from a breakfast sandwich to a wrap.
The shopping in Montauk village is not bad either. There are numerous boutiques and souvenir shops to explore. I found a fantastic straw handbag at Bontemps. We also stopped by the Chamber of Commerce, where you can pick up great guides to everything going on in Montauk, from farmer’s markets to fishing fleets, rentals and the current calendar of events.
After our walk through downtown, we grabbed towels from our hotel, and sat on the beach for an hour or two, soaking in a few more beach vibes before we would have to head back to Manhattan. There were locals walking their dogs along the shore, and a number of beachgoers not worried about the chill in the air had already spread out on the sand. I closed my eyes and meditated for about half an hour, which I found very peaceful and beneficial.
Then it was time to grab some lunch before checking out of the hotel and catching the Hampton Jitney bus back to Manhattan. Let me tell you, you can’t go wrong with getting a lobster roll at Hooked. There was plenty of outdoor seating, and when our lobster rolls arrived my eyes widened in awe. They weren’t just generously and carefully filled with overflowing lobster salad, they were also very delicious. The newspapers say these are the best lobster rolls in Montauk, but I found they were the best I’ve eaten on the east coast.
Well fed and rested, we made our way with our bags onto the bus for the three hour ride home, which turned out to be four hours with traffic (this makes taking the Long Island Railroad a better option, but check schedules as there weren’t any trains leaving to the city from Montauk that day). While our stay had been short, we felt like we had gone to a place far away. While the optimal time to visit Montauk may be the later summer months, that is also when it is the most expensive and crowded. In early June we got a good deal and had a good time, so it’s an option to consider if you’re looking for a quick trip on a budget.
Place to Stay:
A Wave Inn 32 Elmwood Avenue
Places to Eat:
668 The Gig Shack 728 Main Street
Montauk Brewing Co 62 South Erie
Gossman’s Clam Bar West Lake Drive
Anthony’s Pancake House 710 Montauk Hwy
Joni’s 28 South Etna Avenue
Hooked 34 South Etna Avenue
Shops and Places of Interest:
Bontemps Corner of Main Street and South Edison
Montauk Chamber of Commerce 742 Montauk Highway
Date of trip: June 2022