Meet Montauk

Escape // Kate Williams // August/September 2010
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By Nick Lavecchia

Meet Montauk

By Nick Lavecchia

Meet Montauk

By Nick Lavecchia

Meet Montauk

By Nick Lavecchia

Meet Montauk

By Nick Lavecchia

Meet Montauk

By Nick Lavecchia

Meet Montauk

Located at the easternmost tip of Long Island, Montauk is the Hamptons’ uber laid-back cousin. Home to surfers and yoga-devotees rather than socialites and fashionistas, Montauk offers quiet beaches, authentic eats, superior shopping and jaw-dropping sunsets, plus genuine dive bars that haven’t been ravaged by an onslaught of rabid Manhattanites. A bastion of regenerative peace and quiet, Montauk is perfect for a sandy getaway and a few good waves, at least for now—but get it while you can. We recommend a visit before this low-key hideaway becomes too hot a spot.

Friday

As Montauk is a three-hour ride from Manhattan (by either car or rail), upon arrival, you’ll likely be ready for a meal. And since you can’t visit Montauk without indulging in at least one classic lobster dinner, get that out of the way by visiting nautically-decorated Shagwong restaurant (shagwong.com), a downtown fixture since 1927. This well-preserved slice of vintage Montauk has served everyone from John Lennon to Elizabeth Taylor in its illustrious lifespan. As Shagwong is always packed with a boisterous mix of tourists and locals, call ahead for reservations, or be prepared to have a drink—or several—at the bar. Dockside Liar’s Saloon (401 West Lake Drive; (631) 668-9597) draws a Friday night karaoke crowd of those in the know, so belt out “Like a Virgin” before heading back to your room at the Surf Lodge (thesurflodge.com), a hotel steeped in breeziness. Specializing in boho luxury—surf lessons, bicycle rentals, yoga classes and an on-site spa are among its many offerings—the Lodge’s whitewashed deck overlooks peaceful Fort Pond, which makes it the perfect spot to take in the sunset and catch some live music. Also on site are an indoor-outdoor restaurant and bar specializing in that vintage Montauk chic-but-chill vibe, plus a 200-square-foot Tracy Feith store often haunted by the surfer-designer himself.

Saturday

One of the East Coast’s best spots for surfing, with beach, deep water and plenty of point breaks, Montauk is a happy nest for those looking to paddle out. Its best-known wave is Ditch Plains, which is great for both beginners and longboarders and is absolutely packed all summer. For surf lessons, hit up the Sunset Surf Shack (sunsetsurfshack.com), where you can also rent a board and pick up a flowered Volcom bikini. Or you can enroll in surf school at Corey’s Wave (coreyswave.com), which also teaches stand-up paddle boarding.

When your stomach starts growling, jump over to the Ditch Witch, the Plains’ famed food truck (40 Deforest Road), or grab some Mexican corn on the cob and an order of mango salsa at the Hideaway (thehideawaymontauk.com). As the name suggests, you’ll have to peek off the road to find this concealed gem, but you’ll be glad you did. Just look for the chili pepper sign.

Post-lunch is the perfect time to peek through some of Montauk’s adorable proprietor-driven stores, such as Tauk (taukmontauk.com), which is the brainchild of friends Marylynn Piotrowski and Stacy Dover, the same duo that own Brooklyn’s beloved vintage motorcycle-themed Smith + Butler (smithbutler.com). While there, pick up their draw-waisted pocohontis dress, some vintage-inspired eyewear or an eye-popping coffee table book on surf legend and international playboy Bunker Spreckles. Next, swing by Melet Mercantile (102 Industrial Road; 631 668 9080), a veritable grab bag of vintage clothing and collectible oddities housed in a repurposed garage.

Enjoy dinner by sunset at Navy Beach (navybeach.com), where you can dine on buttermilk fried chicken and cheddar-jalapeno cornbread ankle-deep in sand. Don’t rent a room at the Memory Motel (692 Montauk Highway; 631 668 2702) but do visit its lovable dump of a bar. Legend has it that Mick Jagger penned his song of the same name after a one-night stand at this local lodging with fellow crooner Carly Simon.

Time to grab a wink or two at Sole East Resort (soleeast.com), housed in a 1929 Tudor-style historical landmark. Visit its Zen den, stroll its gardens or dip in its rectangular pool. The Backyard Restaurant on the hotel’s grounds is upscale and healthy, and usually hosts live entertainment, like burlesque, on Saturday nights.

Sunday

Kick-start your day with a breakfast burrito and a smoothie at Joni’s (9 Edison Drive; 631 668 3663), which is a favorite hangout of designer Cynthia Rowley’s (who just opened a store at 696 Montauk Highway). Next, rejuvenate those wave-weary muscles at Love Yoga (owned by local surfer Sian Gordon) with their surfer-centric class called Motion in the Ocean (loveyogamontauk.com). For the yoga and surf buff, the trips lead by Montauk adventure outlet Liquid (liquidyogandsurf.com) might be just what the doctor ordered--especially if you snag a space for their upcoming retreat to ride some of the world’s most sublime breaks in Rincon, Puerto Rico.

The Montauk Lighthouse (montauklighthouse.com) is situated seven miles from downtown, and the hilly road that leads there makes a beautiful and challenging bike ride. When your calves are good and sore, finish the weekend sipping and spitting at one of the area’s pastoral wineries, like the old school Wolffer (wolffer.com)—you’ll swear you’re in a European village—or the equally stunning but more easygoing Channing Daughters (channingdaughters.com). With your tan and your wine buzz squarely in place, it’s time to climb on the next city-bound train and brace yourself for the dive back into reality.



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Originally published in August/September 2010


4 Comments

Jul 13, 2010 at 11:57AM Surfcat

No one eats at Shagwong's! Where did you get that tip? ha ha

Jul 13, 2010 at 12:02PM Surfcat

Kate: You forgot to mention that Liquid Yoga + Surf's Retreat is August 27-29 at Sole East. That is the highlight of our summer, Rincon is not til November and before that we go to Morocco in October. I wish you had talked about our Retreat in August as the article is about what's going on at Montauk. Lauren Hanna, founder of Liquid and owner of Sonic Yoga in NYC with special guest teacher Twee and Simon Park's Thai Yoga Workshops are the highlights of this Retreat.
www.liquidyogaandsurf.com

Jul 25, 2010 at 09:03AM surfjac1

You write something like this and suddenly that little "getaway" becomes a crowded mess. OOPS..too late..too many articles like this. The surf lodge is a scar on the face of Montauk. Yeah, sure go to the Ditch Witch..no place to park (no place to park, period. remember, too many articles like this!) and if you do park without a permit, a $250 ticket. Surf school?-board, ocean, figure it out and oh yeah, no leash for at least ten years, that's the Montauk surf school. Want a perfect little getaway? try north New Jersey.

Jul 25, 2010 at 05:41PM sandy Funk

As a thirty year resident and former business owner in this beautiful little hamlet, I totally agree that with all these articles the face of Montauk IS changing. Bringing money into the town is great, just be respectful and keep Montauk "Montauk" not New York city. I have to say in about 5 years or even sooner, this little hamlet won't be the little place that we remembered. What a shame but you can't stop it,,,it's coming

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