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 April
Battery Gunnison Restoration Work Day
4/12, 12-5pm, Gunnison Beach Plaza
Chat with the Army Ground Forces Association as they work on restoration of Battery Gunnison/New Peck and its 6-inch guns. Learn about the Battery's history and other Association projects.
Spring Bird Walk
4/13, 10am-12pm, Spermaceti Cove Parking Lot
Join the Monmouth County Audubon Society to look for returning osprey, herons, egrets, and other migrants. Bring binoculars and wear comfortable shoes. One mile
Surf Fishing Clinic
4/19, 8am, Building 18
Join the American Littoral Society to learn the basics of casting, knot tying, lure/bait selection, and "reading" a beach. All skill levels will be accommodated. Rods, reels and tackle will be provided. Children under 18 are welcome with a supervisisng adult. Bring lunch. Call 732-291-0055 for program fees and to make a reservation.
Arbor Day, Trees of Sandy Hook Walk
4/25, 2-4pm, Building 18
Explore the Hook's unique ecosystem on this one-mile walk with naturalists from the American Littoral Society. Bring binoculars and cameras. Call 732-291-0055 to make a reservation.
Clean Ocean Action's Spring Beach Sweep
4/26, 9am-12:30pm, Parking Lot D
Join the 70,000 volunteers who since 1985 have participated and removed over 3.5 million pieces of debris from New Jersey's beaches and waterways. All ages are welcome. Groups of 10 or more, pre-register by completing the online form.
Boy Scout Oceanography Merit Badge Program
4/26, 9am-2pm, NJ Sea Grant Consortium, Building 22
Discover the secrets of the ocean and earn this BSA badge by seining in the bay, collecting plankton, studying waves and currents and participating in interactive laboratory experiments with the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium. Open to individual boy scouts. Advance registration required. Call 732-872-1300 ext. 20.
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.