Sandy Hook

The National Parks System's Gateway National Recreation Area

Part of the National Park System's Gateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook is home to miles of beach and much more.

"The Hook," as it is referred to by locals, also houses vast nature trails and wildlife observatories as well as the historic Fort Hancock and the Sandy Hook Theater at its tip.

On the Hook in parking area D is also the popular Sea Gulls' Nest, a privately-owned bar and grill perched on a 25-foot-high deck with a spectacular view of the NY skyline and shore. Patriotic sunset celebrations are a signature attraction.

Also housed on the Hook, which is techncially in Middletown, are the offices for the American Littoral Society and Clean Ocean Action.

Run by National Park Service rangers, when the Hook is filled to capacity with visitors, it is closed off. Leashed dogs are permitted on the inlet side of the park only, not the ocean side. Arriving very early on weekends is a good idea.

While actual admission to the beach at Sandy Hook is free, parking fees are charged per car/carload. Admission fees for the entire season are $75 per car. Daily admission is $15 per car ($25 for oversized vehicles). Seniors are charged 50 perent of the regular seasonal rate of $75.

Daily and/or seasonal passes may be purchased at the park's manned entrance plaza.

* Source for the following is NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

Lifeguard Hours:
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seasonally

Note: A parking fee is assessed for seasonal beach parking.

Southern beaches:
Lot B - 337 cars
Lot C - 297 cars
Lot D - 703 cars
Lot E - 744 cars

Gunnison Beach - 787 cars
Lot J - 341 cars
Lot K - 650 cars
Lot I - 165 cars (Proving Grounds/North Beach)

Note: Fort Hancock parking is not subject to seasonal rates.

Visitor Center (Spermaceti Cove): 22 cars, 2 buses or 25 cars
Horseshoe Cove: 34 cars

A 12-foot wide asphalt pathway that begins at the park entrance and extends 5 miles to the Ferry Landing adjacent to the Post Chapel (auditorium) available to bicyclists, roller-bladers and walkers throughout the year.

A temporary barge for ferry landings is brought in seasonally.

Guarded Bathing Beach:
Six guarded beaches including Areas B, C, D, E, Gunnison Beach and North Beach

Surfing Beach:
Traditional surfing: ocean side of C lot
Windsurfing: bay side of C lot

Most northern tip of Sandy Hook (north of 9-Gun Battery)
Fishing beach (on ocean side after beach area E).
Entire bay side is open for fishing.

Note: A fishing permit is required at night, after park closes and is sold at the Ranger Station.

Boat Launch:
No motorized watercraft is allowed. Small watercraft (canoes and kayaks are allowed) can be launched at numerous points on the river/bay.

Handicap Access:
All beach centers are accessible and have beach wheel chairs available for use free of charge to the public. There is an accessible ocean viewing platform at Lot B, North Beach has a second floor deck that is available by way of a ramp.

The bayside "boardwalk" across from the visitor center is accessible. Handicap parking for Visitor Center is available at D or E lot.

Vehicular Access:
Clearly defined road throughout Sandy Hook. Main road, Hartshorne Drive runs through entire park up to and including Fort Hancock. Maps of Fort Hancock are available for the public in a variety of park sites, as well as posted at bulletin sites.

Public Restrooms:


  1. Guardian Park, behind the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory,
    (NJ Audubon Society)
  2. Trailer on Kearney Road, (in Fort Hancock) between buildings 32 and 33.
  3. North Beach, at observation deck
  4. Gunnison Beach
  5. Between Atlantic Drive and K Lot, far north area across from Nine Gun Battery
  6. All beach centers, including Areas B, C, D, E, Gunnison Beach, North Beach,
  7. Fort Hancock Museum
  8. Visitor Center

All Year:
* Sites close if plumbing freezes

  1. Unisex-handicapped at Guardian Park, behind the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory,
    (NJ Audubon Society)
  2. All beach unisex-handicapped restrooms, except for E lot. These include Lots B, C, D, Gunnison Beach and N. Beach.
  3. Between Atlantic Drive and K Lot, far north area across from Nine Gun Battery
  4. Fort Hancock Museum
  5. Visitor Center
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