The Long Island north shore extends approximately 90 miles from Great Neck to Orient Point. It has some of the best bays in the northeast that offer protection from the weather as well as all kinds of amenities, entertainment and relaxation. This publication covered all these bays in detail in a series of stories called Long Island Sound Exits over a period of six years. Here is a recap of the best of each. We start with Exit Two because the first bay, Little Neck is small and has very limited services compared to the other bays.
Exit Two: Manhasset Bay
Manhasset Bay offers is one of the prettiest bays on Long Island. It offers total protection from rough seas and winds as it is practically protected on all sides. As summer breezes tend to come from the south, most captains throw the hook at the bottom of the bay near Leeds Pond. If the winds are from the north you can anchor in the cove near Plum Point. There are also 20 yellow mooring balls in the channel to use free for 48 hours and a water taxi on call. This bay is very boater friendly.
Dinghies here can tie up to the gazebo docks in the northeast corner of the bay and walk to West Marine, supermarkets, a movie theater and a train station with 45 minute service to NYC. The water taxi can drop you off here or on the town dock closer to Main Street. You can eat very well in Port Washington on almost any style of food. When you depart, take a scenic ride on its west coast and around Kings Point to see the super mansions. Summer Friday nights has music at Manhasset Bay Marina.
Exit Two: Hempstead Harbor
Hempstead Harbor is our home port and is a nice place to fish, swim, and view three of the best Gold Coast mansions. The harbor entrance is almost two miles wide and four miles long. It offers east, west and south protection from heavy seas but you are open to winds from the north and the only place is to find shelter is behind the jetty at Morgan Memorial Park on a mooring ball from the yacht club. You can swim or have the kids play in the sand at the Sands Point Preserve Beach (no services), North Hempstead Beach Park, Tappan Beach, Sea Cliff Beach and Morgan Memorial Park in Glen Cove where concerts play on Sunday nights.
For mansion viewing, there are three Gold Coast standouts. On the west shore, you have the Hempstead House, also known the Gould-Guggenheim Estate, and its neighbor Falaise. Falaise is open for tours. On the northeast shore don’t miss the view of the former Charles Pratt mansion, (now the Web Institute) built in 1914 with its red brick and many chimneys. On the east shore you can visit Sea Cliff that bills itself as “A Victorian Village by the Sea” up on a bluff.
Three highlights in the harbor include the Memorial Weekend and July 4th fireworks and the oldest Italian feast on Long Island in North Hempstead Park in early September.
Exit Three: Oyster Bay
Oyster Bay has three sections. When you enter the harbor you can head three miles south towards Cold Spring Harbor. Its Main Street is lined with boutiques, food, ice cream, and a small Fire and Whaling Museum. Returning on your portside on Cove Neck you can dinghy to a beach to visit Sagamore Hill and see the restored home of President Teddy Roosevelt.
Continue past Center Island and the 1871 Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club. There Sunday evening “Salty Dog” BBQ’s is excellent but you need a reciprocal yacht card to get it. Once passed Billy Joel’s mansion head north into West Harbor. This is one of our favorite day - play places and overnight anchorages where you are protected on all sides. At night you may have the bay to yourself.
At the bottom of the harbor is the historical Village of Oyster Bay. Here you will find a few good restaurants, a train museum and Billy Joel’s 20th Century Motorcycle Museum.
Exit Four: Huntington Bay
This is the widest and most diversified bay on the north shore where you can have a quiet time on the hook and visit two villages.
Northport: Each season we spend a night at the Northport town dock. It is the place to see and be seen. Northport has a small town feel. Its Main Street is lined with boutiques, shops and restaurants. It is here that you can take your boat to see a Broadway quality show at the John Engman Theatre.
Lloyd Harbor: Lloyd Harbor is on the west side of the wide entrance. There you will find a protected cove and inlet to the east. Be mindful of any transient anchorage signs here. There are no services in Lloyd Harbor
Huntington Harbor: Entrance here is past the lighthouse. Once inside the water opens up to a tightly moored fleet. Overnighting is at docks only. The best way to see the harbor is to just circle it at a no wake speed. Huntington is a bustling large village with everything around New York Avenue and Main Street. For entertainment, the Paramount offers concerts on a regular schedule. Art lovers should visit the Heckscher Museum where there are free concerts in the summer.
Sand City Island/Hobart Beach Park: Located in the center of the harbor we recommend anchoring east of this long sandy spit and dinghy or swim to its sandy beach. The backside of the spit is a good place to swim away from the tidal currents.
Centerport Harbor: This is a quiet harbor southeast of West Beach and west of Northport. While you are in the area it is worth entering for a look around. I have not found this a good place to anchor overnight.
Duck Harbor: Located in the northeast corner, Duck Harbor it is a pretty and well-protected place to drop anchor. Boats must maintain a 50-foot distance from homes the shore. This bay gets popular on weekends.
Asharoken: On the very eastern end of Huntington Bay is big open of water. The narrow land here will protect you from seas from the east but will not block the wind.
Exit Five: Port Jefferson:
Port Jefferson is a fun nautical town with good food, entertainment and convenient town dockage along with quiet areas to anchor. If we spend a few days here we will break it up with a night on the hook and two nights on the dock. For anchoring, you are protected better on the west side of the narrow entrance (give way to the ferries). The east side of the entrance on weekends can get crowded and you are not as protected. To get to town, cruise two miles south of the entrance where there are two marinas. (Danford’s is a full-service resort to consider). Everything you would want to see, do, eat, drink, shop and be entertained by is within a 10-minute walk from the docks. This includes a microbrewery and wine tasting room. For people that enjoy history, visit the Port Jefferson Historical Society on Prospect Avenue where you can tour their small museum and home that was built between 1840 and 1860. Afterward you can walk nearby to see many of the 100 historic homes up to 200 years old. Port Jefferson shows off its nautical heritage at the Maritime Explorium and at the Bayles Boat Shop.
Exit Six: Mattituck
The Mattituck Inlet is the last “exit” on Long Island Sound’s north shore. The narrow jetty entrance requires caution in nasty seas. Once inside keep in the middle and head south to Strong’s Water Club and Marina which is the only docking available here. Strong’s has a reported clubby feel on the weekends with entertainment, bar and pool. Love Lane in Mattituck is a 10-minute walk and has a cheese shop, wine bar tasting room, a gourmet deli and a favorite lunch place called Love Lane Kitchen. From the marina you can walk to two wineries. I recommend getting a car from Enterprise Car Rental so you can drive around the North Fork to visit farm stands, Greenport, additional vineyards and distilleries. This is great country for peddling around if you are into bicycling.
If You Go: For docking, it is recommended to make reservations on weekends. You can find the contact information for the various marinas in your chart plotter or in most chart books as well as the Waterway Guide – Northern which covers Long Island and New England. For events in the different villages and bays simply web search to here you are going to find out the latest on festivals, farmers markets, fairs, theater and more. If you would like the detailed articles on each of the “exit” stories email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tab Hauser is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, a member of the Explorer’s Club.He has been boating on Long Island since 2006. Offseason he either photographs events or travels the world where he can be seen at www.tabhauser.com and www.tabhauserphoto.com.