Late one June we checked into the Ronjo motel and heard the glass shattering at the least expensive motel in town. We drove the Toyota Corolla the 40 miles for our night away in Montauk, at THE END of Long Island, New York. My parents willingly watched our charming 2 year old son so we could have a romantic night together. After closing the door to our first room alone, in a long time, we heard the screaming followed by glass breaking. We looked out the sliding door to a crazy pre-college scene. Prom had been the night before in a nearby town. Many teens had been in the pool area when one boy crashed into a door. He was taken to the hospital and the door soon repaired. We all settled into our rooms and continued our experience. Montauk is always an experience to be remembered.
I have visited Montauk, NY regularly for over 21 years since that night and I love it. As much as the place wants to avoid the establishment, it is taking over, not always in a bad way. The locals are adamant about keeping it the same and that is cool too.
The town has no traffic lights.
I was recently told, at Liar’s Saloon, that if you have left town for even 5 days, like to have a baby, you are no longer a local. That is very important.
However, many of us are not fisherman and so just want to visit Montauk because it is this most awesome piece of land surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, bays, lakes, a lighthouse, and a quaint small town.
So based on my experience and some research, here are my 17 things to know about Montauk:
- Established in 1660 (it’s on all the t-shirts)
- It’s the self proclaimed “Surf casting capital of the world”
- President George Washington authorized the construction of the Montauk Lighthouse in 1796
- Montauk lighthouse is the 1st lighthouse in NY state.
- It is the 4th oldest active lighthouse in the USA
- The walls of the lighthouse are 6 feet at the bottom and 3 feet at the top
- There are 137 steps to the top of the lighthouse
- In 1699 Captain Kidd, declared a pirate by the British government, buried treasure out by Gardiners Island – is there some in nearby Montauk ponds?
- Portugal is on the same latitude as Montauk
- West Quoddy Head Maine is really the most eastern point on the U.S.A.
- In 1895 the LIRR reached Montauk.
- in 1923 they paved the highway to Montauk
- In 1924 the 1775 acre Hither Hills State Park and 945 acre Montauk Point State parks were established by Robert Moses.
- In 1930 there were only 608 local Montauk residents.
- In 1938 hurricane winds of over 100 mph made Montauk a temporary island.
- In 1954 Hurricane Carol hit Montauk and temporarily made it an island.
- In 1963 the first St. Patrick’s day parade took place.
Montauk has so much to offer. It is a quiet town. The shops offer Montauk tank tops, sweat shirts and beach decor as well as more upscale boutiques for nicer clothes, art and jewelry. Main Street is within walking distance to many of the ocean front hotels.
On the Long Island Sound side of the point, there are several hotels, shops and restaurants near Gosman’s Dock. When our children were young, we liked staying on this side because the pools are nice and the efficiency units are larger. You are in within walking distance to Gosman’s and the Long Island Sound is calmer than the ocean so there is less chance of a small child being taken out to sea.
When the option of week long vacation in the summer was beyond our means, so would visit during the off season. Many hotels close for the winter season so the ones that are open often do offer good rates in the off season. If ocean walks and cooler temperatures are OK with you, Montauk can not be topped for a refreshing night away. (You may want to bring a portable heater as well)
As the kids got older, Montauk became a fun family vacation spot and we soon traveled east in groups of friends from our home town. We only had to drive 90 minutes door to door. As you drive down the hill into town and see the ocean along the shore, it is like all the stress from real life floats off your shoulders and a sense of joy fills your soul.
From the oceanfront hotels, the kids can walk into town to play mini golf and get ice cream. You can bring your beach chairs and coolers to the beach or lounge in a chair by the pool.
The restaurant scene is very good and each season seems to draw in better and better quality chefs.
Montauk welcomes families and extended families. It’s not uncommon for us to visit in the summer and have friends or family also visiting but staying in a different location.
Over the past few years I have also noticed quite a few women vacationing together and visiting Gurneys seawater resort and spa for bachelorette parties.
Next post I will recommend some hotels and restaurants and excursions. Do you have any favorites?
Click here for my posts about Montauk in winter and my widow’s guide to the Montauk girlfriend getaway and Budget friendly suggestions for a Montauk vacation.
(17 facts learned from the Montauk Library website)