Less than a year after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Sandy Hook peninsula, this popular Jersey Shore beach destination shows few signs of lingering damage. Its teeming beach crowds and repaired facilities testify to the national park’s remarkable recovery efforts.
Hurricane Sandy wrought $35 million in damage to Sandy Hook in the fall of 2012, and officials originally announced that they were unsure whether the park would reopen the following summer. But federal emergency funding and efforts by the National Park Service brought about needed repairs to the roads, buildings, trails and beaches, where 80 percent of the sand dunes were wiped out. By Memorial Day weekend, all the beaches had reopened to welcome visitors.
Tips for visiting: Sandy Hook offers free shuttle service around the island, restroom facilities at the major beaches, and a few scattered food vendors, but visitors should generally plan on bringing everything they’ll need for the day. Plan to arrive early, especially if driving, because the beaches can get crowded and the park will refuse entry once capacity is reached.
The most food vendors can be found at Beach D. The more secluded Gunnison Beach is clothing optional. History buffs can explore the Sandy Hook Lighthouse – the oldest in the U.S. – and the grounds of Fort Hancock.
Getting to Sandy Hook from Manhattan: Two ferry options travel between Manhattan and Sandy Hook: NY Waterway ($43 roundtrip) and the SeaStreak ($45 roundtrip or $30 select departures with a printed coupon from the site). Visitors can also take the New Jersey Transit North Jersey Coast Line to Red Bank, then hop on Bus 834 to a drop-off near the park’s entrance. For those driving, a parking pass is $15 per vehicle.