Located at the end of Long Island’s South Fork, Montauk, New York, has transformed itself from a small fishing town into one of the most desirable, scenic, and lively destinations in the Northeast. Just 19.8 square miles, Montauk has numerous attractions that are easily accessed by boat, and marinas equipped to cater to visiting superyachts. Whether you are a sailor, a power cruiser, or a tournament fisherman, Montauk provides the perfect setting to live life at your own pace. Plus, if you wish to venture beyond, it’s the perfect launching point to the nearby waterfront towns of the Hamptons and the southern coast of New England.
Our media partner SYOG.com spoke to Gili Wojinowich, dockmaster of IGY Marinas’ Montauk Yacht Club, about the reasons why he loves Montauk as a cruising destination, and the factors that make it a world-class destination to visit aboard a superyacht.
Climate and Cruising Conditions
If there’s one thing to know about the weather in Montauk, it’s that it’s simply unpredictable. While the summer season is relatively shorter than that of many other East Coast locations, Montauk is ideal from late May through to early September. That’s when average temperature highs range from 64°F to 79°F (18°C to 26°C). Overall, the summertime is exceptional, but many people enjoy visiting Montauk aboard a superyacht during the shoulder months of April and October. This allows them to avoid the crowds and to take advantage of some great shopping and lodging discounts.
Cruising Regulations and Clearances
Foreign visitors, foreign-flagged recreational vessels, and vessels arriving to Montauk directly from another country are subject to the same rules and regulations as they would be at any U.S. port of entry. Each vessel exceeding 300 gross tons must file a Notice of Arrival with the National Vessel Movement Center (NVMC) prior to docking. This is a separate step than obtaining a Cruising License from Customs and Border Protection. Advice can be obtained from the office of commercial vessel compliance, foreign and offshore division, or from a local yacht agent.
When navigating U.S. waters, non-U.S. crew must have B1/B2 visas, and non-American guests on board must have the B1 visa for business and the B2 for pleasure.
Day 1 – Montauk Harbor and Fort Pond
Upon arrival in Montauk, head to Montauk Harbor at the head of Lake Montauk to make use of the ample marine amenities and marina facilities on its shores. Montauk Harbor is one of the area’s most popular summer retreats. Approximately 120 miles from the bright lights of New York City, it’s a great stopover spot for those waiting for the right tides and conditions to head on to Block Island, Rhode Island, just 10 nautical miles away. It’s also a great destination in itself. Heading down the east channel, you’ll find IGY’s Montauk Yacht Club (above) on the starboard side, or, taking the west channel, you’ll find Star Island Marina.
Once settled, head ashore to get acquainted with your new location. The Harbor’s shops, bars, and restaurants are all easily accessible. Be sure to catch the sunset from the jetty at the entrance to the harbor, then enjoy a casual dinner at the clam bar on Gosman’s Dock, a Montauk tradition since 1947.
Day 2 – Montauk and Camp Hero State Parks
When visiting such a small and charming destination, there isn’t much need to move your yacht from place to place. From your anchorage in the Harbor, I recommend using your second day to head to the east point to explore the Camp Hero abandoned military base and Montauk State Park, home to the famous Montauk Point Lighthouse.
For those who like to walk, this is a fair hike from the Harbor, but completely do-able. Otherwise it can easily be driven or cycled. Once there, you can go inside for a small fee, visiting the museum at the base before climbing to the top to take advantage of 360-degree views. Afterward, meet the tender and view the lighthouse and coast from the ocean before heading back to meet the yacht for dinner and a well-earned rest.
Day 3 – Southern Lake Montauk
At high tide, you could move the yacht down the channel to Lake Montauk for a different setting, finding berthing either at the Montauk Lake Club or at the secluded anchorage at the southern end.
From your spot here, you can use the local paths to walk the easy route across to the ocean to catch the morning waves. The waters down at Ditch Plains are ideal for surfing, wakeboarding, and fishing. Once you’re done, gather with the surfers at Joni’s for breakfast burritos and chai lattes. Or, enjoy a classic breakfast diner experience at John’s Pancake House on Main Street. The coconut pancakes are a specialty.
Visit the 192-acre freshwater Fort Pond in the afternoon to take in the surrounding sights, then enjoy cocktails at East by Northeast, an Asian-fusion restaurant and bar with panoramic views of the pond. In my experience, it’s best to make reservations for dinner. I recommend Harvest on Fort Pond to enjoy local seafood and family-style Italian cuisine within a charming outdoor herb garden.
Day 4 – Edison Beach
Montauk is famous for its miles of deserted coastline and pristine beaches. So today, visit Edison Beach along the south coast to take in Montauk in all its glory. You can make reservations at a nearby luxury spa, too, like The Seawater Spa at Gurney’s Inn.
If you’re looking for a little more activity, this could be a great day to head over to New England, just a short hop across the Sound via tender or ferry, or to fish off the Montauk coast. You can catch fluke or striped bass in season.
If you haven’t yet tasted enough Montauk seafood, book a table at South Edison. You’ll enjoy the contemporary twist given to beach classics by former Manhattan chef Todd Mitgang. Then, with a designated driver, it’s onward for live music at The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, with shows at 8pm and 10pm.
Day 5 – Onward…
Beyond Montauk, you’ll find an array of activities and cruising destinations to keep you entertained for a longer visit. Traveling from the marinas and anchorages of Montauk by tender or road, you can explore the scenic roads of the Hamptons, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, enjoying award-winning wines and feasting on the region’s finest seafood.
My onward suggestions include some of the well-known coastal towns of New York and New England, such as Sag Harbor with its nightlife, and Block Island, Newport, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard, also within easy cruising distance, for their historic seaside charm. (Editor’s note: Details can be found in our Destination Guide: New England feature.)
Unlike other nearby coastal towns like Sag Harbor or Newport, Montauk is still relatively “off the grid” when it comes to superyacht traffic—but this is changing. Most of the hamlet’s marinas and anchorages are within the protected waters of Lake Montauk, offering easy access to the sights and sounds.
Montauk Yacht Club – Montauk Yacht Club offers an ambience of exclusivity without the membership requirements. With a total of 232 slips, the facility provides 14 berths for visiting superyachts of a maximum LOA of 200 feet (84 meters).
Star Island Yacht Club & Marina – Midsized superyachts up to an LOA of 164 feet (50 meters) can find transient dockage at the Star Island Yacht Club & Marina.
Rick’s Crabby Cowboy Café & Marina – Newly renovated, Rick’s deep-water marina offers 500 feet of bulkheads and docks for yachts of any size, offering privacy and seclusion on the lake’s quieter east shore, with just 22 slips.
Montauk Lake Club & Marina – This is a private marina facility, with some transient berthing space often available upon request and when the regulars are out of their slips.