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Vacationing in Montauk

By: Kim Fredericks
Published: 9/2/2012Source:

Montauk, also known as “The End,” is a hamlet on the tip of Long Island's South Fork. While it is actually part of East Hampton, Montauk strives to be distinctively un-Hampton. Locals and visitors grab breakfast and coffee at Joni’s or Anthony's, not Starbuck’s, and shop at stores with local names such as White’s Drug and Department Store.


Motels in the village with seafaring names like he Sands Motel and Beach Plum cater to budget-crunching families with efficiency style accommodations that are steps to the beach and the amenities of town. Those seeking luxury check in to stylish Sole East and The Surf Lodge, which offer full-service and a long list of amenities.


Montauk also boasts a chain-free selection of restaurants. For breakfast, Anthony’s Pancake House is an institution and lines form outside the Montauk Bake Shoppe for jelly croissants. For a casual lunch you can bring your own beverages to Duryea's Lobster Deck and order an over-sized roll stuffed with fresh lobster salad. Sunset cocktails at Navy Beach can be followed by dinner at South Edison or any of the other 50 or so restaurants in Montauk.


When the sun goes down, revelers head to bars such as the Sloppy Tuna, Shagwon’s, and The Memory Motel, a vintage spot made famous by Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, who visited the motel and bar during the summer of 1978 and penned the song "Memory Motel."


Recreation on Montauk:


Named after the Montauketts, a local Native American tribe, Montauk possesses 5,000 acres of pristine public beaches and diverse parkland. Montauk's icon is New York's first lighthouse. Perched on a rocky bluff, it was commissioned to be built by George Washington in 1792.


Montauk's state parks offer natural beauty for hikers, bikers, campers, anglers, and bird watchers. Lake Montauk is Montauk's safe harbor, home to the Montauk Lake Club and Marina and a favorite spot for water sports such as jet skiing and stand-up paddle barding.


Surfers (and those who like to watch surfers) flock to Montauk's famous Ditch Plains Beach while sports fisherman congregate at Montauk marinas such as Star Island Yacht Club and Marina, known for its annual sports fishing tournaments. Golfers can hit the links at Montauk Downs, a Robert Trent Jones-designed course that's open to the public.


At Home on Montauk:


In 1879, Arthur Benson purchased Montauk for $151,000. He envisioned a playground for the wealthy and created the Montauk Association complex, a collection of seven shingle cottages, designed by the prominent architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White. Known as the Seven Sisters, the homes now bear historic landmark designation.


In 1926, Carl Fisher purchased Montauk from Benson’s heirs and went on to build Montauk Manor, the golf course, and the yacht club. Fisher envisioned that Montauk would become the Miami Beach of the north, but the stock market crash ended Fisher’s dreams.


Today $151,000 can get you into a budget-oriented condo or co-op. At Montauk Shores, a community of manufactured homes on owned and leased sites, you can find one-bedroom residences for less than $200,000. Hotels such as the Wavecrest Resort offer co-ops while properties such as Montauk Manor, a historic building built by Fisher, cater to city dwellers who arrive by train.


Buyers looking for homes can find small houses in the $400,000 to $800,000 range, says Joan Hegner, a Realtor with Corcoran in Montauk. “Small cottages are very much in demand,” she says, especially the Leisurama homes, built during the 1960s, which offer access to the beaches along Block Island Sound. Buyers are also looking for homes that need work so they can fix them up and put them into Montauk's active rental market.


Homes in the middle range of Montauk’s market, priced from $1 to $2 million, usually come equipped with pools and can be found within walking distance to the beach or on larger and more private lots away from the water.


For surfers, the best neighborhoods are Ditch Plains and Surfside where you can find a variety of homes from surf cottages to palatial estates from the mid $700,000 to up to $7 million. Sport fisherman and boaters prefer locations close to Montauk’s many marinas, such as Montauk Lake, and Culloden Point, which boast water and sunset views.


The fact that Montauk is surrounded by water on three sides means it has an abundance of water and oceanfront property, but getting close to the water commands large price tags. “Waterfront is a desirable, higher ticket item,” says Hegner. Homes directly on the ocean are the priciest, starting around $5 and going as high as $20 million.


While Montauk’s market took a dive when the economy slowed, Hegner, who has been in the business for 36 years, says she has never been busier. “People who have held back on buying see that rates are down and they are taking steps to becoming homeowners,” she says. A healthy inventory of homes and a strong rental market are also nudging buyers to take action.


What to Do in Montauk:


• Visit the Montauk Lighthouse.  Visit the museum and climb the 137 steps to the deck for ocean views.

•Horesback Riding at Deep Hollow Ranch.  The oldest working cattle ranch in the country offers both Western- and English-style riding lessons, beach rides, and trail rides.

•Hike Shadmoor State Park.  Hike the 1.25-mile loop trail through the scrub land for panoramic ocean views from the tops of 100-foot bluffs.

• Take a Sport Fishing Trip. Several boats offer half-day trips.

•Learn to Surf.  Group and private lessons.