Escaping the Crowds

As seen in the New York Times on April 25, 2010


WHY NOW Montauk prides itself on being the poor man’s side of the Hamptons, where bars cater to deep-sea fishermen, not deep-pocketed hedge-funders. But sandy-haired surfers are showing up in greater numbers, hotels have upped their thread counts, and the Jitney set has started to make inroads. To experience the old Montauk, visit before Memorial Day, when the secluded coves and sweeping dunes are calm, and the cool breezes off the Atlantic make the place feel more like Maine than Long Island.

WHAT TO DO If it’s too chilly to surf at Ditch Plains Beach, no worries: May is fast becoming festival season in Montauk. May 13 to 16 will be the premiere of the Montauk Music Festival (, with performances ranging from rock and rap to blues and jazz, and May 29 and 30 is the third annual Montauk Fine Arts Festival ( For bicycle enthusiasts, there’s the Montauk Century bike ride on May 16 ( along the South Shore of Long Island to Montauk, with starting points in either Manhattan (for a 145-mile ride) or on Long Island (for a 100- or 65-mile trip).

WHERE TO STAY Don’t let the ritzy name fool you: the Montauk Yacht Club Resort and Marina (32 Star Island Road; 631-668-3100; is open to anyone, even if your yacht is in the shop. The resort completed a $100 million upgrade last year, adding full-size bathtubs and nautical touches. A double room with sea views starts at $209 (and jumps to $269 after Memorial Day). Stay Mother’s Day weekend and receive a $100 credit for meals and drinks. The trendy Surf Lodge (183 Edgemere Street; 631-668-1562;, which brought a dash of the swankier Hamptons to Montauk, opens for the season in mid-May, with rooms starting at $275 in the spring. Get there now before the stretch Hummers arrive.

WHERE TO EAT Sean MacPherson, the bold-faced restaurateur, recently bought the Crow’s Nest Inn and Restaurant (4 Old West Lake Drive; restaurant: 631-668-2077;, which offers a time capsule of a dining experience complete with lobster tanks. So, when it opens for the season in May, it could be the last time before the humble place goes hip. Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast Kitchen, at the yacht club, has just recruited a chef from South Florida, Robbin Haas, to add more seasonal sizzle to the menu.

DON’T MISS Tennis enthusiasts can take advantage of the pre-Memorial Day $150 package offered by the Manhattan-based Gotham Tennis Academy (, which has just partnered with the yacht club. The deal, starting May 1, includes a private lesson and a group clinic, each an hour long, and all the court time you can squeeze into a day.

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