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Sixty-Something: Why Sammy’s Beach Is My Favorite Spot In The Hamptons

T.J. Clemente

Sammy's Beach. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

You don't have to be sixty-something to have a few favorite places. Most people have a favorite place for each season. For me, my favorite place in the summer has to be Sammy's Beach in East Hampton. I put it right behind Louse Point and Gerard Drive. These two Gardiner's Bay beaches are special.

If you have never been to Sammy's Beach, you should make a point of checking it out - probably around sunset on a summer's day. If you have been, or go to Sammy's Beach, then you already know what a special place it is. What makes it special? Perhaps a number of things, such as it faces west, therefore exposes all of Gardiner's Bay to great afternoon sun. It is also part of the Sammy's Beach Nature Preserve, which consists of 115 acres of pristine land and beaches, with some cool walking trails. Like most beaches, it has that wide open space, along with a big sky of sun and clouds. It is a changing daily portrait of pristine beach and clear, clean, warmer than the ocean water. Then, of course, there is the view of the setting sun each night over Shelter Island!

I am a sailor. I try to get out almost every sunny day for a sunset sail. I have a ritual and part of that ritual consists of anchoring at Sammy's Beach after exiting Three Mile Harbor for a nice quick swim. If an old friend is sailing with me for the first time, I feel it is the best way to introduce one to the magic of bay swimming at Sammy's, because its sandy bottomed beach is not especially shallow at low tide, but actually perfect. This means you can relax and stand in chest high water out at least 100 yards. The water is Caribbean clear, and come August, perhaps as warm. I actually love jumping off the rear ladder of my sailboat and swimming to shore. Even in my late sixties, I still feel like a kid when I walk out of the bay and onto the sandy beach and take in the view of my anchored boat. Seeing the long "L" shaped beach shorefront and all of Gardiner's Bay never gets old. The caveat is, there is almost never more than one handful of folks there, other than near the parking, if there is anyone there at all.

I say "L" shape because from the jetty of Three Mile Harbor to the tip of Cedar Point, the shore does resemble the capital letter "L."

In history books, there are the noted stories of over 100 British War vessels anchored in Gardiner's Bay during the British occupation of the Hamptons during the Revolutionary War. It's easy to conjure up that sight, that no doubt would have made a great "Turner" painting. Actually, the first settlement of East Hampton Town (1648) was Northwest Harbor, just to the west of Cedar Point. Yet the story I love is the ones of the bootlegging unloading during prohibition. Some legends have rum being secretly unloaded and sold there back in the oldest of times. My favorite has to be of the poor guy who rented his beachfront home on the eastern edge of where there are homes along the beach to these folks who used it for smuggling in marijuana by the bails at night, off an old schooner they anchored in front of the home. The phone call from the police must have been quite an experience! This happened not that long ago. The owner of that home keeps his boat docked not too far from mine.

With the days getting warmer daily, and spring just around the corner, it's time to think about getting those beach chairs out of storage and perhaps locating and washing that favorite beach towel. I know I will. And I know soon I will be standing on Sammy's Beach, admiring the view of my anchored sailboat and all of Gardiner's Bay.

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