June 24, 2018

I wondered… for about a nanosecond, if writing about some of Montauk’s best kept secrets would ruin them. Then I remembered that Montauk has endless secrets…


Star Island — the road and parking area at the far end is a great place to watch the trawlers come in and unload at Inlet Seafood and for watching the Coast Guard cruisers in the inlet doing practice drills.


The natural beauty of some of the End’s most unique spots will give your body and brain a serious reboot. Sometimes the weight of civilization can be overwhelming. The fast pace… the burdens of relationships… the empty materialism of today’s society… the technological complexity and dependency in our everyday lives… it’s enough to make you dream of escaping to a simple place to be more in touch with the flora and fauna. Step into some truly exceptional wonders in our hamlet and JUST.LET.GO. Nature becomes this incredible facilitator of unplugging us from distractions and dropping us into what our mind and body really need. Your instincts will soon take over and focus on the now. It’s not easy to find the meaning of life or the answers you are desperately seeking within the four walls of your hotel room or summer house. But outside in the wild and wonderful nature spots in Montauk, answers may come more easily. The wind hears your problems… bees buzz, birds sing, creatures squawk and sometimes the answers become apparent. NOTE: your cell phone and devices WILL PROBABLY NOT get a signal or work in most of these locations. This is a good thing.

Eddie Ecker, Sr. County Park at the western end of Navy Road has a pier and open fields where dogs congregate and swim with their owners, especially around dawn on warm summer days. I love watching the canine-master dynamic when they are in the water together. This is a great spot to waste time, which is a lost art in my book.


The Walking Dunes at the end of Napeague Harbor Road – just hike along the marked trails and partake in the family-friendly cranberry picking hikes in the fall. This place is Heaven on Earth… rugged, unspoiled and a marvel of nature. It’s amazing how the wind can shape shift an entire landscape. Guys, note: this is a great place to propose! Immerse yourself in the natural splendor and wonder of it all.

The eastern shore of Lake Montauk, near the Montauk Airport and Big Reed Pond, on East Lake Drive. There is kayaking, kite surfing, clamming… and it’s a great place for families with small kids who like to wade in the eddies during high tide. You will never find the crowds there. Little ones will have a crash course in the meaning of life as they watch the waterfowl interact.

The Oyster Pond overlook is a scenic view parking lot and trail access point on the south side of Montauk Highway about a mile from Montauk Point. The best duck and migrating waterfowl watching place in Montauk. At night, there is no light pollution and billions of stars! The real fun is hiking to the pond from several trails, most easily accessed by parking on the western side of Camp Hero road, then crossing the highway on foot to the adjacent trail head (be careful crossing the highway). The Oyster Pond Trail and Paumanok Path both lead to the pond and have waters-edge vantage points, wide trails (sometimes!), and unspoiled natural beauty.


“The Edge” @ Camp Hero is a thrilling place to watch whales, seals, dolphins and waterfowl in Summer, as well as dramatic blitzes during the great striper migration that runs September thru November. Park at the main Camp Hero lot then meander along the cliff edge and hear the waves smashing on the rocks below. The hoodoos are magnificent formations of wind, sand and clay. A great place to appreciate living in the moment. When you are on the edge of a cliff overlooking a vast blue sea, it’s a different feeling than catching a wave and riding into shore. Extend your arms into the sky and project all of your stress into the sea.


Gin Beach – the eastern side, where there is a great camaraderie of campers and tents that create their own little village. Even if you don’t actually camp there, bring a bulging picnic basket of goodies to share and you are sure to have a group invite you into their circle. If you come with a cooler full of just caught fish, even better. Many grills are crankin’ on warm summer nights. But my best experience there has been when it gets really dark dark… snuggling under a blanket with arms wrapped around you and a bottle of wine – under a billion stars. No light pollution whatsoever. When the meteor showers start peaking in mid-August it will take your breath away


Walk the trails in the sprawling Hither Hills State Park and adjacent Hither Woods Preserve and find some cool spots, with great off-road adventure biking trails — you can park at “the dump” entrance just west of town on Montauk Highway. Try some forest bathing — taking a walk in nature, as you pay closer attention to the details you spot in leaves or bark. Veer off the marked trails with no particular plan… will you turn left or right or are you brave enough to just walk and stumble upon some very interesting things?