Destination Guide: Montauk, New York

Located at the end of Long Island’s South Fork, Montauk, New York, has transformed itself from a small fishing town into one of the most desirable, scenic and lively towns in the North Eastern United States. Made up of just 19.8 square miles of land, there are numerous waterfront attractions that are easily accessed by boat, and marinas equipped to cater to visiting superyachts, making Montauk especially unique as a world-class cruising destination...

Whether you are a sailor, a yachtsman or a tournament fisherman, Montauk provides the perfect setting to live life at your own pace, plus, if you wish to venture beyond, it’s the perfect launching point to the nearby waterfront towns of the Hamptons and the southern coast of New England.

Coastal view of Montauk Point Lighthouse, Montauk, New York

SYOG spoke to Gili Wojinowich, dockmaster of IGY’s Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina, about the reasons why he loves Montauk as a cruising destination, and the factors that make it a world-class destination to visit aboard a superyacht.

Climate and cruising conditions

If there is one thing to know about the weather conditions in Montauk, it's that they are simply unpredictable; while the warm summer season is relatively shorter than many other east coast locations, Montauk’s premier weather tends to run from late May through to early September when average temperature highs range from 18°C to 26°C (64°F to 79°F).

Overall, the summertime weather in the Hamptons is exceptional, making it a major reason why so many visitors venture out from New York, but many people enjoy visiting Montauk aboard a superyacht during the shoulder months of April or October when average temperatures are slightly cooler, allowing them to avoid the crowds and to take advantage of some great shopping and lodging discounts.

Cruising regulations and clearances

Foreign visitors, foreign-flagged recreational vessels, and vessels arriving to Montauk directly from another country are subject to the same rules and regulations as they would be at any US port of entry.

Each vessel exceeding 300 gross tons must file a Notice of Arrival with the National Vessel Movement Centre (NVMC) prior to docking. This is a separate step than obtaining a Cruising License from Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Advice can be obtained from the office of commercial vessel compliance, foreign and offshore division, or from a local yacht agent.

Small fishing boat tied alongside in Montauk Bay, New York

When navigating US waters, non-US crew must have B1/B2 visas, and non-American guests on board must have the B1 visa for business and the B2 for pleasure.

Montauk itinerary

Day 1 - Montauk Harbor and Fort Pond

Upon arrival in Montauk, you’ll want to head to Montauk Harbor at the head of Lake Montauk in order to make use of the ample marine amenities and marina facilities on its shores, in amongst the action. The sight of the US Coast Guard station on Star Island will welcome you to your destination.

Montauk Harbor is found toward the most easterly part of Long Island, and is one of the area’s most popular summer retreats. Approximately 120 miles from the bright lights of New York City, it’s a great stopover spot for those waiting for the right tides and conditions to head on to Block Island, Rhode Island (just 10nm away), but it’s also a great destination in itself.

Heading down the east channel, you’ll find IGY’s Montauk Yacht Club on the starboard side with marina berthing for superyachts up to 84-metres LOA, or, taking the west channel, you’ll find Star Island Marina with berthing for yachts up to 50m LOA.

Megayachts tied alongside at Montauk Yacht Club, New York

Once settled, head ashore to get acquainted with your new location. The Harbor’s shops, bars and restaurants are all easily accessible for an afternoon of exploring, but be sure to catch the sunset from the jetty at the entrance to the harbor before grabbing a casual dinner at the clam bar on Gosman’s Dock – a Montauk tradition since 1947.

Day 2 – Montauk and Camp Hero State Parks

When visiting such a small and charming destination as Montauk, there isn’t much need to take the time moving the vessel from place to place to enjoy the local sights and sounds. From your anchorage in Montauk Harbor I recommend you to use your second day to head to the east point to explore the Montauk State Park and the Camp Hero abandoned military base, home to the infamous Montauk Point Lighthouse.

View out to sea from Montauk Point Beach

For those who like to walk, this is a fair hike from the Harbor, but completely do-able. Otherwise it can easily be driven or cycled. Once there, you can go inside for a small fee, visiting the museum at the base before climbing to the top to take advantage of 360-degree views. Afterward, meet the tender and view the lighthouse and east coast from the ocean before heading back to meet the yacht for dinner and a well-earned rest.

Day 3 – Southern Lake Montauk

At high tide, you could move the yacht down the channel to Lake Montauk for a different setting, finding berthing either at the Montauk Lake Club, a private facility that occasionally has transient berthing, or at the secluded anchorage at the southern end.

From your spot here you can use the local paths to walk the easy route across to the ocean to catch the morning waves. The waters down at Ditch Plains are ideal for surfing, wakeboarding and fishing. Once you’re done, gather with the surfers at Joni’s for breakfast burritos and chai latte’s, or experience a classic breakfast diner experience at John’s Pancake House on Main Street where the coconut pancakes are a specialty.

Deserted pier in Montauk waters

Visit the 192-acre freshwater Fort Pond in the afternoon to take in the surrounding sights, then enjoy cocktails at East by Northeast, an Asian-fusion restaurant and bar with panoramic views of the pond. In my experience, it’s best to make reservations for dinner, perhaps at Harvest on Fort Pond to enjoy local seafood and family-style Italian cuisine within a charming outdoor herb garden.

Day 4 – Edison Beach

Montauk is famous for its miles of deserted coastline and pristine beaches, so today, visit Edison Beach along the south coast to take in Montauk in all its glory. You could make reservations at a nearby luxury spa, like The Seawater Spa at Gurney’s Inn.

If you’re looking for a little more activity, this could be a great day to head over to the neighbouring towns of New England, just a short hop across the Sound via tender or ferry, or to fish off the Montauk coast where you might catch fluke or striped bass when they’re in season.

If you haven’t yet tasted enough Montauk seafood, it’s worth booking a table in advance at South Edison to enjoy the contemporary twist given to beach classics by former Manhattan chef, Todd Mitgang. Then, with a designated driver, it’s onward for live music at The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, with shows at 8pm and 10pm.

Day 5 - Onward…

Beyond Montauk, visitors will find an array of activities and cruising destinations to keep them entertained for a longer visit. Travelling from the marinas and anchorages of Montauk by tender or road vehicle, guests can explore the scenic roads of the Hamptons, Connecticut and Rhode Island, enjoying award-winning wines and feasting on the region’s finest seafood.

US Coast Guard Station on Block Island

My onward suggestions would include some of the well-known coastal towns of New York and New England, such as Sag Habor with its nightlife, and Block Island, Newport, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, also within easy cruising distance, for their historic seaside charm - details of which can be found in our New England Destination Guide.

Superyacht berthing

Unlike other nearby coastal towns, such as Sag Harbor or Newport, Montauk is still relatively ‘off-the-grid’ when it comes to superyacht traffic - but this is changing.

Most of the hamlet’s marina facilities and anchorages are found within the protected, deep-water of Lake Montauk, offering easy access to the sights and sounds of downtown Montauk.

Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina – Montauk Yacht Club offers up an ambience of exclusivity without the membership requirements. With a total of 232 slips, the facility provides 14 berths for visiting superyachts of a maximum LOA of 84m (200ft).

Star Island Yacht Club & Marina – Mid-sized superyachts up to an LOA of 50m (165ft) can find transient dockage at the Star Island Yacht Club & Marina.

Rick’s Crabby Cowboy Café & Marina – Newly renovated, Rick’s deep-water marina offers 500 feet of bulkheading and docks for yachts of any size, offering privacy and seclusion on the lake’s quieter east shore, with just 22 slips.

Montauk Lake Club & Marina – This is a private marina facility, with some transient berthing space often available upon request as and when the regulars are out of their slips.

Originally written for by SYOG for MegaYacht News.

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