Beach season is soon approaching, and if you’re like most Long Islanders, you’re ready to soak up some sunshine and get into the water. Craving a little more excitement on your next beach trip? Try off-road driving on some of the island’s best beaches for a thrilling summertime experience. You’ll need to take the proper precautions before hitting the gas pedal.
Purchase a Permit
To do any off-roading on a Long Island beach, you’ll first need to get a permit. There are various types and they allow access to different beaches. There’s a four-wheel drive beach vehicle fishing permit, which allows you to drive on certain beaches with one caveat—you'll need to be fishing. For this permit, you’ll need a registered vehicle, a valid driver’s license and proof of enrollment in the free NYS DEC Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. Similarly, there’s a four-wheel drive beach vehicle surfing permit, which allows daylight surfing and windsurfing at certain beaches. These permits are only available for purchase between January 1 and March 31 and the Tuesday after Labor Day through December 31.
If you haven’t bought one, don’t worry. There’s also the Suffolk County Parks Recreational Vehicle Use Permit. This allows off-road vehicles on designated county beaches in Suffolk. To get it, you’ll need a Green Key Card, a registered vehicle and a driver’s license.
Buy The Proper Gear
Once you’ve received a permit, you’ll need some required gear. These items are important to ensure your safety while enjoying Long Island’s beautiful shores. If you go with a beach vehicle fishing permit, bring a jack, jack board, shovel, tow rope/chain, portable toilet, spare tire and a tire gauge. Of course, you’ll also need some fishing gear (fishing tackle, including rods and reels).
Plan on off-roading on the Suffolk County beaches? Pack a jack, jack board, shovel, chain or snap line, fire extinguisher, spare tire, tire gauge, portable air compressor (or air tank), flashlight and a first aid kit. Drivers must reduce tire pressure to 12-15 psi. (A portable air compressor or air tank might also come in handy.) Remember, the speed limit for driving on the beaches is 10 MPH.
Hea to the Beach!
Finally, it’s time to pick where you’d like to head. And luckily, there are a few options to choose from. With a beach vehicle fishing permit, you can go to Hither Hills, Montauk Point, Napeague and Robert Moses (Democrat Point and Sore Thumb). Vehicles are only allowed on fishing areas. The Suffolk County beaches that allow cruising on four wheels include Cedar Point County Park (limited access), Cupsogue Beach County Park, Montauk County Park, Northwest Harbor County Park, Orient Point County Park, Shinnecock East County Park and Smith Point County Park (limited access). Always check the hours for off-roading at your desired beach, and know there are additional rules and restrictions for nighttime driving.