A Guide to Traveling in West Hampton, NY
It’s been a minute since I traveled and even more minutes since I actually did it for pleasure. Recently, I took a four-day vacation and ventured to the Hamptons to live out my summer days writing, reading, enjoying good company, and reveling in the beach scenery. This mini-staycation is something I would recommend to anyone, most especially if you’re overwhelmed, creatively stifled, or looking for a release.
The Hamptons are just a 40-minute drive from my permanent (current!) residence on Long Island but until this year, I’ve spent hardly anytime there. “Out East” is a location my family usually reserved for weekends and even then, we did not traverse very far. It was the farm stands of Riverhead or the carousel and cafes of Greenport. It’s only in my more recent adult years that I’ve developed a desire to know my island better. I’m from here, after all, shouldn’t I know my way around?
Hence my random decision to take a staycation. But I wondered: Where should I go? Because I’m going to be pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton in the fall, I thought the Hamptons was the perfect spot. It not only meant becoming more accustomed with an area I’m going to be around a lot but it also meant getting to know a place that’s been so close to me my whole life. It just felt like it was time.
Plus, now when I’m out and about in the city or New Jersey and people immediately associate my Long Island residency with all they know of the Island (the Hamptons), I wouldn’t cower in shame as I admit to them that I really don’t know the area that well. Now, I at least have some semblance of an idea of where to go, what to eat, and where to stay.
(Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder)
Where should I stay in West Hampton?
I stayed in two separate locations. Because I booked from Friday to Monday — and with little notice, mind you — I wasn’t able to find one location for the full duration of my stay. The first two nights I stayed at a 600 square foot basement apartment in East Quogue, booked on Airbnb. At the time it was $75 a night; this included a parking space, a separate entrance, two beach chairs, and a small outdoor area with tables, an umbrella, and chairs. The unit itself did not have a kitchen, which I was disappointed in because my initial intentions were to grocery shop and cook rather than eat out every night, but it did offer a mini fridge, microwave, plenty of plates, forks, knives, spoons, a coffee maker, and even wine glasses. Michele was a truly lovely host, who helped me when I had difficulty with the door code and who offered many suggestions on where to eat and spend time.
The second night I stayed at the Bayview Resort in Hampton Bays. It was a beautiful facility with even more gorgeous views and ample opportunities to be active. The room itself was a clean, white and blue studio with a mini fridge and microwave. There was a cleaning service, like any standard hotel, which was nice in comparison to the Airbnb. What was most outstanding about this hotel — besides its stunning views of and close proximity to Tiana Bay — were the hotel’s activities, all of which were free. Guests were allowed to sign out kayaks, canoes, and row boats. There was an in-ground pool and a dock area that featured many rocking chairs, tables, and lounge chairs.
The clubhouse featured a restroom with close proximity to the dock and pool, so if you were outside, you needn’t run back to your room. There was also an exercise room and living room space with TVs. Additionally, there was BBQ facilities and a fire pit (free wood was provided at the desk; all you needed to do was ask). Parking was free but a little tight because the lot was one-way but that would be my only qualm. Staff was absolutely so kind to me when I didn’t check out right away on Monday and rather lingered by the pool and dock until about 3pm.
Where should I eat in West Hampton?
My original intentions were to cook, cook, cook but that came to a screeching halt when I realized that none of my rented spaces offered full kitchens. There was only one night that I went out to eat; the other nights I kept it simple at local bars, pizzerias, and delis.
Saturday night I ate at Rumba in Hampton Bays, which was a short car ride away from my place in East Quogue. Parking was limited here, so we parked down the road with the help of the lot attendants and then rode the Rumba Bus back to the spot. It was packed! There was barely a space to sit at the bar and the entire outside space was full of people but I will say I only waited five minutes before being sat indoors. Rumba is self-described as “an Island-inspired cuisine and rum bar,” so I got a margarita at the bar (it was absolutely delicious!) and ordered the Double Dip as an appetizer. The Double Dip featured humungous nacho chips with a cheese dip and guacamole. The guac was out of this world! For the main course, I had shrimp tacos; I could only guzzle down one as I was so full.
What is there to do in West Hampton?
Remember that I went to the Hamptons to relax and focus on my reading and writing. I was pleasantly surprised with just how much there was to do, though I really didn’t get to do much of it! I am definitely planning a sequel trip in which I do more activities. I would have loved to take more advantage of the kayaking and canoeing opportunities the Bayview presented. During my next trip, I’d also like to try paddleboarding (which I was going to do but frankly, just ran out of time for!).
On Saturday, I spent my day at Cupsogue Beach. Despite living on Long Island nearly my whole life, this was my first trip to Cupsogue. For years, my peers made fun of me for never having been, since it is heralded by many natives as the “best beach on the Island.” I can say now that it definitely lived up to the hype. While the water was absolutely freezing, it was a great beach to walk down and relax at. The bar/restaurant area was also very populated, although I did not eat or have a drink there. (I did however notice that there was a lobster special during weekdays.)
Where should I go shopping in West Hampton?
Shocker — I didn’t do as much shopping as I expected to! Going into this staycation, I really thought that I was going to do an exorbitant amount of shopping because I wasn’t sure what else there would be to do. My vision of the Hamptons was full of tiny, locally-own shops and farm stands and while I know that exists out there, it’s not where I spent much of my time. I did, however, stop in Riverhead on the ride out there, at the Tanger Outlets to purchase some shorts for the trip. Other than that, I really didn’t do much shopping, so this is something I will focus on during my next stay.