Jones Beach

  • Map, 5.6 miles/9 minutes
  • Parking is $10/car
  • Jones beach has a nice, long boardwalk with concession stands at each parking field. It can be a bit crowded on busy days but overall a “reference model” beach for the area. There are also shows many nights at the boardwalk bandstand, as well as a major arena, “Jones Beach Theater” which sits amid the nearby bay.

Long Beach

  • Map, 12.6 miles/21 minutes
  • Metered parking
  • Long Beach is a city located on a barrier island just off south of Long Island. Long beach is known for its bar/restaurant scene, easy train access and good surfing. In fact, the 2011 Quicksilver Pro contest was held in Long Beach. The waves aren't huge but they're a good shape and fairly consistent because of the way nearby currents work. This is the beach to go to if you want to enjoy more than just the beach & boardwalk.

Robert Moses State Park

  • Map, 21 miles/26 minutes
  • Parking is $10/car
  • Robert Moses is a less built-up version of Jones Beach that sits on the Western end of Fire Island. It's the only part of Fire Island accessible by car. The drive from Bellmore to Robert Moses is very scenic as it follows Jones Beach island for most of the route and then crosses a very high bridge across the Great South Bay.
    • *Hidden Gem:* If you park at the westernmost parking field, walk along the water due west. Eventually you will come to a rock jetty in a spot known as Democrat Point. There are usually cool tidal pools and you can potentially watch some surfers taking advantage of the sand bar at the end of the jetty (you can stand on the sand-bar and waves push up just as they hit it). Just be careful of currents if you jump in the ocean here!

Fire Island - Ocean Beach

  • Map, 20 miles/30 minutes drive + 30 minute ferry
  • Round trip ferry is $19/adult, $9/child over 2
  • Fire Island is the easternmost barrier island on Long Island's south shore. Ocean Beach is my favorite area of Fire Island if I want restaurants and bars along with the beach. The experience of taking the ferry to the island makes you feel like you're really going someplace special. When you arrive there are narrow streets with no cars and lots of really quaint vacation bungalows set in wooded lanes. The town is small but nice.
  • Be prepared to spend an extra premium on drinks and food though, as all supplies need to arrive by ferry and the owners make sure to price that in. A cheaper option might be the local grocery store (near the ferry dock) but that's pricier than your local supermarket too. Perhaps pack a picnic lunch? The beach is crowded but nice and is a short walk from the docks. Also note that a water taxi is available for visiting other parts of fire island (like Sunken Forest).

Fire Island - Sunken Forest at Sailor's Haven

  • Map 30 miles/30 minutes drive + 30 minute ferry
  • Round trip ferry is $13/adult, $7.50/child under 11
  • The ferry drops you off at the only sign of civilization here. A small concession shack sits behind the dock with some showers/restrooms. After that you can walk straight back to a fairly empty beach or instead walk the elevated trail through the Sunken Forest. When you emerge at the far end (about 1 mile?) you'll have a beach nearly all to yourself. A really unique experience.