Orient Beach State Park is a treasure found at the tip of the North Fork. If you venture far enough, its awaiting your discovery. Living on an island means you get used to taking bridges, tunnels and ferries to connect to the mainland. Depending on where you’re going, you could easily find it faster to drive to the remote tip of the island and take a ferry into New England. This was how our family discovered one of our favorite summer destinations, by trekking out to the Orient Point Ferry.
This “natural wonderland of waterfront with 45,000 feet of frontage on Gardiner’s Bay and a rare maritime forest with red cedar, black-jack oak trees and prickly-pear cactus” is a natural beauty. You will also find a salt water marsh and marine wildlife on this adventure. When you explore the park you’ll see how it earned its designation as a National Natural Landmark! Visit: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/106/details.aspx
This mostly undiscovered park caters to locals which makes it a pleasure to visit. It is reminiscent of a time when the South Fork was still a remote part of the island and you drove all the way there for peace and quiet. (Unfortunately, Hollywood found the Hamptons and Montauk.) For the rest of us, there are still places to escape, but you’ll have more luck on the North Fork. Although possible, you will most definitely not see Hillary Clinton, Alec Baldwin or even Jimmy Fallon at this location. (If any of the aforementioned are reading this, no disrespect, but please stay away so your hordes of fans do not disturb and/or trample the wildlife here.)
Audobon Important Bird Area
Ocean Beach State Park is an Audobon Important Bird Area which is “a catalyst for achieving bird conservation, the primary tools of which are habitat stewardship and site protection. To thrive, bird species need the right kind of places to live and reproduce, and proper sites to nest, forage, and rest during migration and overwintering. Without these supportive habitats, bird populations decline.” You can easily capture photos and views of Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Black Crowned Night Herons, and Osprey. Check out the park’s full catalog of residents: Birds of Orient Beach State Park
Recreation at Orient Beach State Park
- Hiking Nature Trails
- Recreation Programs (Accessible)
- Wind Surfing
- Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
- Swimming in the Bay
- Fish from the shore
- Pavilion for Private Parties
- Picnic Area with Grills
- Small Playground
- Diving permitted with permit
This state park is partnered with Eagles Neck Paddling Company that will rent kayaks and paddle boards with life vests. Contact them in advance to check availability. This company also offers tours. Our family has rented kayaks three times and had the most fun just exploring on our own. Make sure to check the weather report in advance. High winds can make your paddling very intense. We keep our day’s items in a portable dry sack to take along with us. You never know where adventure will lead you! Don’t forget sunscreen, first aid, and water.
There are four lighthouses that can be viewed from Orient Point as well as get your Lighthouse Passport Stamped. Learn more.
- Orient Point Lighthouse in between Plum Island and Orient Point in the Sound (Plum Gut) aka “Coffee Pot”
- Plum Island Lighthouse on Plum Island East of Orient Point across the Sound entrance (Plum Gut)
- Long Beach Bar Lighthouse aka “the Bug Light”on the west end of the park between Peconic River and Gardiner’s Bay
- Cedar Island Lighthouse on the other side of Gardiner’s Bay on the South Fork by Cedar Point County Park
Interested in getting up close to these lighthouses… Visit: East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation
Plan Your Visit
- 40000 Main Road (Route 25), Orient, NY 11957
- Vehicle Entrance Fee $8 per car, increases to $10 during peak season
- No pets allowed
- A map of the kayak trails is available in the park office and here.
- Bring your own or Rent Kayaks and Paddleboards along with life jackets
- Changing, Showers and Restroom open during swimming season
- They have a Spring Egg Hunt and Holiday Tree Lighting
- Bike-a-thons and kayaking tours are held either by the park or in cooperation with partners like the Long Island Paddlers
- There is a small concession stand with ice cream, some food, drinks, and some beach accessories.
Family Adventure Rating ♥♥
Cost- This is a terrific low cost adventure. You are encouraged to bring your own food with picnic tables and grills available. Your costs are transportation, entrance fee, and a few bucks for some ice cream. A family of five could enjoy this adventure for as little as $60 (lunch items, ice cream allowance, entrance fee, gas). Renting recreational items brings your cost up, but bringing your own is free.
Parking & Transportation- Driving is the best way to venture out to Orient simply because you can make stops along the way for additional mini adventures. There’s a nice size parking area at the park, but on a really nice summer day it could fill by afternoon. The S92 Bus brings you right to the park entrance. The Hampton Jitney also goes all the way to Orient Point. The Long Island Railroad will get you as close as Greenport, but then you will have to take a short taxi or “Uber” ride.
Location- The beauty of this park could only exist here, at the tip of the North Fork. It’s a hike for most, but there’s so much to explore on the way. This location is terrific for quality family bonding and relaxation.
Day Trip or Overnight- There are many bed and breakfasts on the North Fork so you could easily stay awhile and enjoy all that it has to offer. Our family often makes day trips to enjoy single adventures with time to visit one of the local farm stands for treats and Greenport for dinner.
Experience- The North Fork is one of the most laid back and relaxing areas of Long Island. It is still, thankfully, rural and full of farms (organic too!). We find this a wonderful experience to enjoy the outdoors, experience Long Island life, and disconnect from the “devices”.
Combination- There’s so much to add to this trip! Greenport Village, Drosso’s Mini Golf (they also have a small motel and concession stand with great ice cream floats), organic farms, many farm stands along the way, vineyards (please don’t drink and drive!), and even a beautiful lavender farm!