Although winter in the Hamptons is in full swing, there’s a palpable element of beauty to this quieter time of year on the East End that can’t be replicated in the summer months. Case in point is catching a winter sunset on the South Fork.
It’s the perfect opportunity to reconnect with nature, and those lucky enough to be here this time of year get to experience the sunset in a whole new way, without the summertime crowds and without the summertime stress. Of course, we all know those lazy summer nights bring some extra enchanting views as far as sunsets go, but it’s safe to say those views don’t disappoint in the colder months either. In the winter, the sun sets in the southern hemisphere and dips below the horizon to the southwest. Therefore, the sun sits lower in the sky during the day, with its nightly descent all the more visible through barren trees. This in turn makes catching the sun go down on the south shore ocean beaches a unique must.
Catching the sun going down on the south shore in winter is a unique must. Picture bright hues of orange, pink and purple illuminating the sky as far the eye can see. It’s perfect to watch with a loved one, or simply to take in a moment of self-reflection or a breath of peace. Here are some beautiful spots on the South Fork to watch winter sunsets.
Ponquogue Bridge, Hampton Bays
The Ponquogue Bridge is used by locals to get from downtown Hampton Bays over to the eastern entrance of Dune Road, the Mecca of Hamptons beaches. From the top of the 55-foot-high bridge, panoramic views of the evening sky come alive at sunset. Ducks glide in the water below, seagulls fly high up above, and the sky takes on every hue of orange imaginable, from tangerine to burnt sienna. As you descend from the bridge into the entrance to the oceanfront Ponquoge Beach, one can easily watch the sun slowly disappear behind the western horizon, beautifully framed by surrounding beach grass.
Gin Beach, Montauk
Tucked away in Montauk is Gin Beach, overlooking the Block Island Sound. A tranquil little stretch of sandy beach situated on the northern end of Lake Montauk, its calm and gentle waters create an immediate sense of serenity. In winter, the views are especially striking as the sun dips below the horizon just beyond the inlet of rocks jutting out into the middle of the water. The colors truly dazzle in the sky over this East End gem, as sunset can be enjoyed from the beach or the car in the parking lot if it’s a particularly cold winter day. On a mild day, walk out onto the jetty and prepare to be fully immersed in the colors of water and sky melding together.
Hither Hills West Overlook, Montauk
Hither Hills West Overlook in Montauk is the perfect spot to catch the sunset on the way back from The End. With easy access from Montauk Highway and plenty of parking, the overlook has exceptional visibility well above the treeline for miles, looking westward. Sunset seekers can also get their steps in on a nearly six-mile loop trail with beach access. From its highest point, views at the overlook are crystal clear and catching a glimpse of native wildlife is a given. Visitors can see the ocean to the south, completing a more than picturesque sunset view that’s tough to beat . Picture orange and pink casting across the sky, melding with soft clouds and shimmering water all in one view.
Cupsogue Beach County Park, Westhampton
The entrance to Cupsogue Beach County Park sits on Westhampton Island, accessible only via Dune Road. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Moriches Inlet to the northwest and Moriches Bay to the northeast, the water feels truly endless here and is complemented by breathtaking sunsets. Visitors can walk or drive down the access road that runs parallel to the beach, with all views along the path being equally stunning. At low tide, you may be lucky enough to see some seals sunning themselves out on the rocks. Side note: Cupsogue is a popular destination for seal hikes as well. Once facing the ocean, one can mostly catch the colors across the sky as the sun itself may be obstructed by the dunes. You can see the sun drift below the horizon from the pavilion or even from the car in the parking lot.
Crescent Beach, Shelter Island
With miles of coastline there is no shortage of beaches on Shelter Island to catch some incredible sunsets any time of day or year. Situated along the northwestern side of the island, perhaps the most well-known strip of sand on the island is Crescent Beach, also locally known as Louie’s Beach for Louis Behringer, a German immigrant who, through marriage, became the owner of the former Shelter Island House on Sterns Point Road in the early twentieth century. This beautiful haven runs half a mile long with views of Southold and Greenport across the Shelter Island Sound. And if it’s extra frigid out catching the sunset in the car is easy enough, as there’s ample parking available steps from the sand. Take advantage of it now, for it becomes a hopping spot in the summer with Sunset Beach Hotel, a boutique hotel and restaurant with a Saint Tropez vibe.
All Dune Road Beaches
Westhampton Island holds some of the Hamptons’ most pristine beaches, accessible only by four bridges located between Hampton Bays and Westhampton. This barrier island, known colloquially as Dune Road, is a stretch of land unlike anywhere else. From the Shinnecock Inlet all the way to Cupsogue Beach County Park, a drive anywhere down Dune Road is an absolute must for anyone visiting the Hamptons. The road is hugged by the Atlantic to the south and the bay to the north, with tons of town and village beaches, beach clubs, hotels, and residential properties along the way. You can’t go wrong stopping off at any of these beaches during the winter to catch the sun going down, with each view offering a breathtaking and consistent cascade of colors right above the endless expanse of ocean waves.