The Hamptons are virtually synonymous with ritzy summer weekends. And part of the area's appeal is definitely its pristine beaches. Whether you like to spend the whole day in the sun or just take a brief sunset stroll, spending time on at least one of those beaches is an essential part of any Hamptons visit, even if you're only there for a quick trip.
Although you really can't go wrong on any of the Hamptons' beaches, here are our picks of the best of the best.
Insider's Tip: Keep in mind that parking permits, which are coveted and pricey, are required at most beaches, so getting there by bicycle or simply walking is the best way to go. Pets are typically not allowed on beaches in the Hamptons during daytime hours during the summer, so unless you're taking an early morning or evening walk on the sand, don't bring any four-legged friends either.
Main Beach, East Hampton
If there's one beach that epitomizes the laidback swankiness of the Hamptons, it's Main Beach, which is not too far from East Hampton's vibrant town and has a truly timeless feel that really hasn't changed much for generations. It's a perfect beach for swimming (and there's a lifeguard) or just lounging on the sand. Although there's a busy snack bar, don't be surprised to see other sun worshippers here picnicking on gourmet takeout from favorite local food purveyors like Citarella and the Golden Pear Cafe.
Insiders' Tip: If you've got a designer swimsuit or a pair of fancy sunglasses in your weekend bags, now's the time to wear them.
Ditch Plains, Montauk
The farthest point in the Hamptons from New York City, Montauk is best-known to surfers as home to Ditch Plains beach. And who can blame them for flocking here? Although its surfing area is comparatively small, the waves here really are the best in the area. If you're near Montauk, but not a surfer, this is still an excellent beach to visit, and draws as many non-board-riding locals and families as wave-lovers. It's well worth the trip, even when the traffic is bumper to bumper (as, sadly, it is on many summer weekends).
Insiders' Tip: Don't miss taking photos of the huge craggy cliffs on Ditch Plains, which have a very different feel than the serene white sand on many of its other beaches.
Sagg Main Beach, Sagaponack
Even though this beach is right in the heart the Hamptons, Sagg Main feels a bit more low-key than you might expect in an affluent area like the Hamptons. It's got a community feel that's conducive to chatting with the people on neighboring towels and letting the little ones run around. And the beach has the spotless sand you'd expect on this part of Long Island. It's great for strolling—and sometimes spotting a boldface name or two, relaxing just like everyone else—even on days when the weather's not 100% picture perfect.
Insiders' Tip: Come hungry: The Sagaponack General Store, located on a truly quaint old school retail nook nearby, makes delicious sandwiches that are perfect for a lunch in the sunshine.
Indian Wells Beach, Amagansett
This expansive Amagansett beach is perfect for a day out with the family, with bathrooms and food trucks in the (alas, permit only) parking lot just off the sand. Part of the beach is a designated ecological reserve, the Nature Conservancy's Atlantic Double Dunes, so this is a great place to teach kids the importance of preserving beaches while they frolic in the waves.
Insiders' Tip: Before or after hitting the beach, stop by Main Street in town for a yummy snack at Mary's Marvelous, a favorite with locals for fresh and healthy takeout baked goods and sandwiches.
Coopers Beach, Southampton
This Southampton beach is a great choice for a full day in the sun with friends or family. Unlike most of the area, parking here is an option even if you're just visiting with the purchase of a $40 day pass, plus there are chair and umbrella rentals, bathrooms, sand-whisking showers, and a large concession stands for ice cream and (mostly deliciously greasy and fried) snacks.
Insiders' Tip: Come early. This lovely beach, even though it's quite large, gets crowded on sunny summer days.
And for more on how to summer like a local in the Hamptons, check out our Hamptons Primer.
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Photo Credits: Main Beach: Rameshwar Das, East Hampton. All rights reserved.; Ditch Plains: @kathryntucker (Ditch Plains, Montauk) by dennis crowley Attribution-NonCommercial License; Sagg Main Beach: James Pascale | Dreamstime.com; Indian Wells Beach: Beach by Attribution-NonCommercial License; Coopers Beach: FHampton Beach ball play by Peter http://www.flickr.com/photos/pedronet/434956982/ Attribution-NonCommercial License