Thousands of ocean and bayfront acres for swimming, sailing, fishing, bird
watching, nature walks, camping, cultural events, organized athletics, concerts
and historic site tours—particularly Monmouth County’s Fort Hancock and
Sandy Hook Lighthouse. See additional information in Beach, Historic and
Birding sections of the guide.
Sandy Hook, a slender, seven-mile slip of sand that juts north along the
northeastern tip of Monmouth County, is part of the Gateway National
Recreation Area. This 2,044-acre barrier peninsula offers ocean beaches with
concessions and changing facilities as well as a view of the Manhattan skyline.
The Inlet side—the western shore—of the peninsula is lined with protected
bay beaches. The bay side is perfect for wind surfing, kayaking, parasailing,
Jet Skiing and boating. Motorless car-top boats can be launched from Beach
Area C and Horseshoe Cove. Body surfers and surf fishermen enjoy the ocean
waves. Secluded Gunnison Beach is a popular clothing-optional destination.
In addition to Sandy Hook’s beautiful beaches, you’ll find sand dunes, salt and
freshwater marshes, 264 acres of maritime forest, and a bird sanctuary, which
has been designated by the National Audubon Society as a globally significant
Important Bird Area. Nature lovers revel in the 300-plus species of migratory
birds. The park includes a visitor center and Multi-Use Trails for walking, biking
and skating. At the northern end of the peninsula, Fort Hancock, a U.S. Army
Coast Artillery Post that protected New York Harbor from 1895 to 1974, and the
Sandy Hook Proving Ground, where the U.S. Army tested new weaponry from
1874 to 1919, are National Historic Landmarks, as is their neighbor, the Sandy
Hook Lighthouse, the nation’s oldest lighthouse.
Highlands and Sea Bright are the closest towns to Sandy Hook, where you can
pick up lunch and beach supplies on the way in to the park or enjoy waterfront
cocktails and dinner at day’s end. Seastreak provides ferry service to Sandy
Hook beaches in the summer from nearby New York City. Gateway National
Park at Sandy Hook is a dog friendly beach on the Inlet side of the Hook.
Although there is no entrance fee to Sandy Hook, there is a $20 per-car parking
fee from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. A $100 season parking
pass is also available. Golden Access and Golden Age Passport holders
receive a 50% discount.
Photo by Jenifer Rutherford
Route 36, Highlands
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL
FREE ACCESS PASS
At Gateway National Recreation Area Sandy
Hook Unit & Historic Fort Hancock, America
the Beautiful Free Access Pass is accepted.
Visitor center, beaches, beach concessions,
observation deck, five-mile multi-use
pathway, Sandy Hook Lighthouse Keepers
Quarters, restrooms and parking lots are fully
or partially wheelchair accessible. Beach
wheelchairs are available. Contact the visitor
center at 732-872-5970. Check www.nps.gov/
gate/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm for latest