Often overlooked for flashier communities like East Hampton and Montauk, Hampton Bays has a casual, beachy charm all its own and more than enough attractions to keep visitors occupied.
Originally settled in 1740 as “Good Ground”, it was renamed Hampton Bays in 1922. With three bays surrounding the community; Peconic, Shinnecock, and Tiana, Hampton Bays has more water-front property than any other Hampton, according to Douglas Elliman Real Estate. It also has the most waterfront restaurants and the second largest fishing port in New York State, after Montauk. But even if you’re not a water person there’s still plenty to do on dry land.
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This family-run hotel has been a summer destination since 1959. Visitors return year after year to enjoy The Hampton Maid’s hidden swimming pool, breakfast-only eatery, gift shop, and beautiful gardens. Each room is uniquely designed, plus this season the hotel unveiled eight new LEED-certified units, equipped with luxuries like heated floors, rain showers, and indoor/ outdoor fireplaces. Located just east of the Shinnecock Canal, The Hampton Maid is a short drive to downtown Hampton Bays, as well as nearby attractions like Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Sebonac Golf Club, and Ponquogue Beach.
If you want to be on the water, book a room at The Inn Spot on the Bay, overlooking Shinnecock Bay. The Main House offers four newly renovated suites with private baths and bay views. Also on the property are several seaside villas with private bedrooms and bathrooms. Dine at the inn’s award-winning restaurant, then on Wednesdays, their food truck serves up goodies like fish tacos, chicken quesadillas, and lobster rolls to guests and daily visitors. Tully’s Seafood Market & Shack, Beach Bar and Shucker’s Lobster Bar are all just a short stroll from the Inn, while Ponquogue Beach is a 20-minute walk or five-minute drive away.
Dining on the water is de rigueur in the Hamptons, but in Hampton Bays choosing exactly which waterfront restaurant to dine at will take some time.
On your way to the beach, stop in for breakfast at The Hamlet Market & Kitchen. They make everything from a classic egg sandwich to a kale, pineapple and apple smoothie. Heartier sit-down breakfasts like pancakes and waffles are also available. For lunch, they offer a variety of salads, sandwiches, and burgers, as well as a kids menu.
Enjoy panoramic views of Shinnecock Canal at Cowfish. Opened in 2012 this new American restaurant was a hit from day one, serving a variety of specialties including seafood, steaks, burgers, sushi, and salads. Try the seared ahi tuna with pineapple, coconut fried rice, and wasabi micro greens or the North Fork salad with brussel sprout leaves, manchego cheese, and macadamia nuts in a lemon mustard vinaigrette.
Savor the view of Shinnecock Bay as you dig into lobster pasta with shiitake mushrooms or a calamari pizza from the deck at Edgewater Restaurant. This well-loved eatery specializes in large portions of Italian fare and fresh seafood.
Serving everything from a great jerk chicken sandwich to little neck clams to their popular seafood salad, Canal Cafe offers casual dining overlooking the canal and marina. This is a favorite among locals as well because of its low key atmosphere and friendly staff.
It’s all about the view at Oakland’s Restaurant & Marina, located at the very end of Dune Road. Come toast the sunset on their outdoor deck that offers unobstructed views of Shinnecock Bay and the inlet. Watch fishermen bring in their catch while you sip a blood orange margarita. Feeling peckish? Their bar menu offers specialties like shrimp quesadillas and crab meat cocktails to nosh on.
You’re on island time at Rumba. This Shinnecock Canal hideaway serves Caribbean-inspired cuisine with plenty of island-style libations. Enjoy the view while drinking a passion fruit pina colada or prickly pear margarita. Special Tip: Accessible by water, take the water taxi that ferries visitors between Rumba and its sister eatery, Cowfish.
For a Latin groove, stop in at Guava Tropical Restaurant and Bar in downtown Hampton Bays. The South American-inspired menu goes perfectly with their margaritas and mojitos. This is also a great place to hear live Latin music, so belly up to the bar and order a glass of their homemade sangria.
Water sports dominate in Hampton Bays, but even if you don’t have a boat you can still get out on the water.
Adventure Paddleboards provides hourly, daily and even overnight paddleboard rentals. They also offer group and private lessons for adults, families and children, ages 12 to 17. Take one of their fitness classes like paddle board yoga or stretching. Kayak rentals are also available. Special Tip: They’re located right beside The Inn Spot on the Bay, so after paddle boarding stay for the Inn’s Wednesday Food Truck night.
You don’t have to go all the way to Montauk to go charter boat fishing. The Shinnecock Star will take you and your family or friends fishing for the day on Shinnecock Bay. The boat holds up to 24 people and your rod, reel, bait, and tackle are all included. Call Captain John to reserve a spot in advance at 631-728-4563.
Head to Ponquogue Beach for a day at the beach. Parking is available for a fee, there are lifeguards on duty, restrooms, and a snack bar. The ocean side offers pulse pounding waves and miles of sand for strolling, while the bay side is a quieter and easier place to take a swim. Special Tip: Oakland’s is just down the road from Ponquogue Beach.
Shop at Hampton Bays’ local farmers market every Saturday, til September 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then take a leisurely stroll through the just opened Good Ground Park. Located north of West Montauk Highway, the park entrance is just off of Squiretown Road. There’s 36 acres of park land to wander and an amphitheater where the town offers free concerts and movies all summer long.