All waterways lead to Hampton Bays. Great Peconic Bay is to the north, Shinnecock and Tiana Bays are to the south, and the other side of the barrier beach is the majestic Atlantic Ocean.
If you ask a neighbor “what's running” in Hampton Bays, you may find out about the hamlet's movie times. But most probably you'll hear about which fish are biting deep in the Atlantic – tuna, marlin, or striped bass. The sushi you enjoy at dinner may be your catch of the day.
Living in Hampton Bays
With a wide curve of Peconic Bay along its northern shore, Shinnecock Bay to its south, and the great crashing waves of the Atlantic just beyond the barrier beach, Hampton Bays is blessed by beautiful stretches of water on all sides. The South Fork hamlet is located just where this branch narrows in the middle, before it reaches Southampton, so is sometimes overlooked by vacationers heading through. They don’t know what they’re missing. This close-knit bayside community is a place where you can enjoy dining on lobster rolls as you look out on the marina, go paddleboarding in the bay or hit the surf on a picturesque stretch of beach.
Hampton Bays history
Originally known simply as ‘Good Ground,’ the area to the west of the Shinnecock canal was a series of small hamlets in the 1800s. Red Creek, Squiretown, Canoe Place, Ponquogue, Springville, Rampasture, East Tiana, West Tiana and Newtown were mainly farming and fishing communities. In the 1880s, the railroad brought tourists to this stretch of Long Island, and Good Ground was renamed Hampton Bays to capitalize on the caché of the Hampton name.
Grand waterside hotels and summer residences were built, and Hampton Bays’ Main Street thrived. At one time it was known as the ‘Fifth Avenue of the Hamptons.’ It was where you could purchase the latest Parisian fashions and elegant homewares. Today, tourism and fishing remain vital to life in Hampton Bays, with a lively fishing center at Shinnecock Inlet.
Things to do in Hampton Bays
Hampton Bays offers that most precious of Hamptons’ commodities: miles of golden beach. Looking straight out onto the Atlantic, with pristine dunes, Ponquogue Beach is an idyllic stretch perfect for swimming, surfing, kayaking and paddleboarding. WIth consistent northwest winds blowing straight off the Atlantic, it also offers reliable year-round surf.
For a more sheltered cove, simply look northwards, where Meschutt Beach borders Peconic Bay. It has still waters and supervised bathing on the east side of the Shinnecock Canal, as well as windsurfing and sailing.
Shinnecock Bay’s calm waters also attract stand-up paddleboarders, and are tempting to explore by kayak. Paddle out at sunset for sublime uninterrupted views, or for real serenity and a true test of your balance and strength, why not try paddleboard yoga, guided by an experienced teacher.
Hampton Bays restaurants
Dining in Hampton Bays is laid-back—think tucked-away seafood shacks with informal decks, with some real gems to be found near the marina and the canal. For generous lobster rolls, you can’t beat Canal Café, where tables sit under umbrellas looking out on the waterway.
With a light and airy deck that looks out on Hampton Bays’ marina, CowFish is one of the most delightful spots for an early evening drink as you watch the yachts bobbing away. Homemade burgers, jumbo diver scallops and ribs are some of the irresistible house specialties.
Though you’ll be tempted never to leave the water’s edge, don’t miss some inland gems. Villa Paul on the main road has been a favorite for generations for its Italian classics—the eggplant parmigiana is always a hit.
For breakfast, Hampton’s Maid has earned a cult reputation for its fluffy omelets, stacks of pancakes and indulgent French toast.
Hampton Bays nightlife
Nightlife in Hampton Bays is definitely seasonal, with beachside parties drawing in revelers from far afield. On summer nights Meschutt Beach is the place to be, where the Beach Hut Bar offers seafood specialties and a raw bar. On Fridays, it’s all about live music and classic cars here, as the vintage vehicles cruise down the strip.
To really let loose, there’s only one destination in Hampton Bays, and that’s the famous (or infamous) Sunday parties at Boardy Barn. It’s raucous and busy, but if beer, pizza and dancing are your thing, it’s a must.
Hampton Bays schools
Hampton Bays has public elementary, middle and high schools, which rate in the middle for academic achievement for New York state, with the middle school rating highest.
Hampton Bays events
Like much of the Hamptons, life in Hampton Bays is focused on the summer months, when the place buzzes with summer beach bars and live music. But the San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons celebrates the vitality of the area after the end of summer with Neapolitan joie de vivre. Thousands of visitors come to Hampton Bays at the start of October for the Italian food, fireworks and entertainment that this festival brings.
Hampton Bays real estate
Options for real estate in Hampton Bays are various, offering something for every taste. With waterfront on two sides of the village, proximity to the beach is almost guaranteed, with spacious homes for sale or rent available along both Peconic Bay and looking out towards the Atlantic on Shinnecock Bay. The area also has some large private estates with heated pools, bayview master bedrooms and well-manicured grounds. For something in the heart of village life, consider a Hampton Bays townhouse—you still get beach views and a patio for barbecues, in a location close to the restaurants and bars of the village center.
Local tips and information for going out in the Hampton Bays from The Corcoran Group. Explore dining, shopping and nightlife.All Hampton Bays tips