When cruising the East End with your family a destination not to miss would be the town of Riverhead. Making Riverhead a port of call can keep your crew happy and busy for two or more days depending on your tastes. Here you can visit the marine life at Long Island Aquarium, kayak the Peconic and take a free shuttle to a beach, a water park, a winery and distillery or the Tanger outlet mall. Dining is diverse here with all restaurants walking distance from the marina.
Riverhead is located at the most western end of Peconic Bay directly in between the two Long Island forks. It is where the Peconic River flows into Peconic Bay. To get there you cruise due west either going around the south or north end of Shelter Island. Continuing west you will pass through Noyack, Little Peconic and Great Peconic bays by going around a few spits before entering each bay. It can get shallow near the ends of the spits so pay close attention and always remember right-red-return. Near the end of the bay look for the narrow channel markers. I always have binoculars at the helm to spot the markers in the distance and to compare my point on the chart plotter.
Once you enter the channel it is a no wake zone. Here you will see birds around the marshy shore and in the trees. At Colonels Island near the bridge, we spotted more swans in one place than anywhere else I have seen. Once under the bridge, you will pass a few small marinas until you see Treasure Cove, the Hyatt Place Hotel and the Aquarium. Hail them on Channel 11 for directions and assistance on docking. Docking is stern in on a floating dock but tie-up is on the pylons so you will have to watch the four-foot tide.
Staying at Treasure Cove is being in a mini-resort (www.treasurecoveresortmarina.com ). The marina is connected to the Hyatt Place Hotel so you have access to the use of their services. This includes their outdoor pool and bar, fitness center and breakfast for $7.00. Also, the hotel provides discounts to see the aquarium and for rentals on canoes, kayaks and stand up paddle boards. Consider your boat here a floating hotel suite.
After we secured the boat we stretched out by visiting the Long Island Aquarium next door. (www.longislandaquarium.com). This small aquarium has many nice exhibits. This includes a large shark tank, a sea lion show, penguins, monkeys, butterflies, tropical and regional fish tanks as well as a touch tank. During the day there are several talks or shows that take place to teach people about the environment or about a particular species. For an extra charge, you can snorkel in a small pool of tropical fish or take their boat for a ride on Peconic Bay to understand what is out there. An important exhibit to note here for boaters is the Riverhead Foundation’s Marine Animal Hospital and Rescue Center. Here you will be told what to do and who to call if you encounter an injured seal, turtle or other large creature when cruising around. Their website is www.riverheadfoundation.org. Allow up to 2 hours for couples interested in all the exhibits, more if you are with children that want to spend time at some of the kids’ based activities.
From the aquarium, we went back to the marina office and rented a double kayak. Here we were given a map with lines laid out to the average time needed to get to different places heading towards the bay. Kayaking was easy and fun. We paddled into the nooks of the bird sanctuary and then back out toward the bridge and Colonels Island. You can spend as little as 90 minutes to the sanctuary or about half a day if you explore the different inlets nearby.
An excellent service offered by Treasure Cove and Hyatt Place is the no charge shuttle bus service. Each day guests can be driven to Ponquogue Beach (Hampton Bays), Tanger Outlets, Splish Splash Water Park, and the Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard and the Long Island Vodka distillery next door. If you go to the Tangers Outlet you should join their club or show them an AAA card to get a discount book good at most stores. Using this book at Columbia Outlet store had them take off another 10% off when we reached $75. (This was on top of their offseason and pre-season sales of up to 40% off). Having this shuttle service really expands the things you can do as well as give you something to do on a rainy day.
Treasure Cove Resort and Marina frequently run docking specials such as stay two nights get the third free or stay one night and get the second at half price. The marina is in a protected location next to the aquarium. Take advantage of their free shuttle services listed above. (www.treasurecoveresortmarina.com)
Main Street offers several different restaurants along with a couple delis and a bagel place.
Tweeds is what I would call a gastro pub. We dined here late one evening on a starter of whole belly fried clams and Long Island striped bass. They have one pound bison burgers worth looking at if you are hungry. Prices are moderate.
Turkuaz Grill is a two-minute walk from the dock on the river with seating outside. This family run Mediterranean / Turkish restaurant was excellent. I had the swordfish kebab cooked perfectly with my wife enjoyed a tastefully mixed grill with a couple of ounces of all their different meats. Hummus and salads all were fresh. Prices are reasonable.
Crooked Ladder Brewing Company is worth a stop for any micro brewer fans. Enjoy a pint or a beer flight. They don’t serve food but you are welcome to bring your own.
The Suffolk Theater on Main Street has concerts, comedians and various shows on weekends. Click http://www.suffolktheater.com for a complete calendar.
Riverhead is near other worthy stopovers while out on the East End. This can include a stroll through Greenport or spend a night on the hook in one of a dozen quiet protected places. The Waterway Guide, Northern Edition, Long Island Sound and New England Waters is helpful when cruising this area.