Glamorous? Perhaps, but to the locals, it's just home. Outside Diddy's surfside "white parties" and paparazzi snapping the summer stream of celebs for which this small community is renowned is a real beach town, one that's been enjoyed by native Long Islanders for ages (though perhaps moreso when the hordes are mercifully absent) and one that still exists if you bother to look.
Idyllic Main Beach: one of five in this quaint, seaside burg. — Photo courtesy of KKMPhoto/discoverlongisland.com
East Hampton has been both home and haven since 1648 and its appeal over time has become a unique amalgam of pastoral and pelagic. Centuries-old farmhouses and lovely beach houses (granted, some painfully garish) coexist in a community rife with historic landmarks like the photogenic Hook Windmill, built in 1806.
Captured in the mist, the Hook Windmill makes East Hampton feel more like Sleepy Hollow. — Photo courtesy of Sylvia Muller/discoverlongisland.com
East Hampton's beautiful beaches notwithstanding, other pursuits offer a departure from summer crowds, as well as immersion into the other landscapes of Long Island. The 305-acre Quogue Wildlife Refuge, a picturesque 25-mile drive from East Hampton, boasts seven miles of nature trails through beautiful Pine Barrens, bogs and other rare and lovely habitats and is home to such inhabitants as the bobcat, falcon, hawk and fox.
Closer still, just two miles east in Amagansett, lies a longtime hub of revelry: the Stephen Talkhouse. Like most local venues, it's at it's priciest and most crowded on summer weekends, but it's always friendly, never fancy, and brings the music and the culture loud and proud, if occasionally inebriated. Good times.
Hidden away in a Hampton Bays marina the Canal Cafe is a local fave. — Photo courtesy of Canal Cafe
Seafood is a staple here on the east end and few places do it better than Hampton Bays' Canal Cafe, where the forks are plastic and the lobster rolls are real-deal. Tucked away amid the boat slips behind Hampton Watercraft Marine, it's a little hard to find, but well worth the effort for a decidedly unHamptons-like atmosphere set amid a tiny slice of sailor's heaven.