Summer in the Hamptons has arrived, and it’s time to hit the water. Whether you prefer the bay or the ocean, the East End is home to unlimited aquatic entertainment.
Stand-Up Paddleboarding and Kayaking
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and kayaking provide a unique perspective of the East End’s waterways. Both offer an alternative to the adrenaline rush of being in the Atlantic, and both can be either an intense form of exercise or a leisurely but health-conscious mode of transportation.
“Stand-up paddling is a unique sport any place, but we have so many perfect bodies of water out here that you can never see it all,” says Jim Dreeben, owner of Peconic Paddler, based in Riverhead. The experience of paddleboarding is akin to walking on water.
“Kayaks are a bit easier to use and can be paddled easier in wind than SUPs,” Dreeben notes .
For stand-up paddleboarding beginners—and kayakers who want a break from some of the elements—Dreeben recommends calm spots that are sheltered from the wind. Some of his recommended locations are Red Creek Pond off Red Creek Road in Hampton Bays; to the left of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor; along Long Beach in Sag Harbor; Georgica Pond in East Hampton and Cold Spring Pond in Southampton.
Shinnecock Bay, which is larger and thus more challenging than more sheltered areas, is home to an abundance of wildlife. “Last summer, we saw fist-sized baby seagulls on an island 200 yards east of Old Ponquogue Bridge,” Dreeben says. “It was so exciting, we went three days in a row. The best time to see them is between June 25 and July 10.” He’s also spotted scallops and starfish—a more rare occurrence—out here.
“I am impressed that so many people take to SUPing immediately,” Dreeben continues . “I give them a few pointers and they get right up, and usually stay up. It is a bit tiring at first,
but you get built up fast. SUPing is great for core strength.”
More experienced paddlers, both SUPers and kayakers, can showcase their skills at the Paddle Battle Long Island, held July 18 on the Peconic River in Riverhead. Visit paddlebattleli.com for additional information.
Paddlers who want to push themselves a little further can take part in the 2015 Block Challenge on Saturday, August 29. The 18-mile open ocean paddle leaves from the Montauk Lighthouse and ends at Block Island, Rhode Island. The event raises money for Paddlers for Humanity. For more info, visit p4h.org.
Surfers often rank the East End—and Montauk in particular—among the top breaks on the East Coast. While no surfer will give away their secret spots, a few time-tested, surf-friendly locations are Flying Point in Southampton; Jetty 4 in Westhampton Beach; Sagg Main in Sagaponack; and Shinnecock Inlet, aka “The Bowl,” in Hampton Bays.
And, of course, it’s no secret that Ditch Plains in Montauk will always reign supreme as the undisputed surfing capital of Long Island. You should beware of its choppy conditions, rocky bottoms and wild currents, but this is the East End surfing mecca for the experienced wave rider.
A rush for adrenaline junkies, surfing also has therapeutic health benefits. Surfers Healing, an organization dedicated to giving kids with autism an experience on the water, will return to Montauk on September 25. Visit surfershealing.org to learn more, and to volunteer.