Get to know Hampton Bays
Tucked away in the town of Southampton, the hamlet of Hampton Bays is bordered on the west by Flanders and East Quogue (and several ample county parks), and on the east by Shinnecock Hills. As its name suggests, the remainder of its boundaries are watery: the Peconic River, as well as numerous inlets, waterways, coves, and bays. Its beauty owes in part to its fragility: It was the New England Hurricane of 1938 that carved up the hamlet in this peculiar way, leaving the Shinnecock Inlet in its wake. That long and variegated coast grants commercial and casual fisherman plenty of access, and Hampton Bays is a thriving fishing port, second in the state behind Montauk. In terms of living here, the hamlet’s real estate is modestly priced compared to the better-known villages and hamlets in the Hamptons, but home values are rising, and the enclave is widely considered a shrewd investment.
History & Culture
Hampton Bays has played catch-up to the other, more popular Hamptons. In the 18th century, in a much smaller version, it was the dubious “star” of a sprinkling of hamlets that together made up Good Ground. The 11 hamlets were combined in 1922 and given the name Hampton Bays to appeal to the summer tourism trade. As with many places in the Hamptons, geography dictates, or at least inspires, the culture. Because Hampton Bays is blessed with so many protected bodies of water, it’s a haven for watersports and boating enthusiasts — there’s windsurfing, paddleboarding, and sailing aplenty. And the hamlet’s spirit has a high-minded, crunchy flavor best represented by the Ecological Culture Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that focuses on environmental stewardship, pedestrian-friendliness, eco-tourism, historical preservation, and other efforts that connect to the area’s original Good Ground moniker. The organization’s concurrent goal is to keep generic, suburban sprawl at bay (no pun intended).
Dine & Shop
The most popular eateries are dotted along Montauk Highway, which runs east to west. Villa Paul, housed in a historic building, is beloved for its Italian menu; try the homemade ravioli with spinach and meat, or the veal Caprina with mozzarella and prosciutto in white wine sauce with capers. Then there’s 1 North, a classic steakhouse featuring surf-n-turf sliders and a 24-ounce porterhouse. And Cowfish boasts a gorgeous setting, Sunday brunch (French toast with three types of berries), sushi (try the Tumbleweed: spicy lobster and avocado), and Block Island swordfish for lunch. Also on Montauk Highway is the Hampton Bays Shopping Center (clothing), anchored by Macy’s. On the cooler side of the spectrum is the Hampton Music and Arts Shop, a full-service music store carrying new and vintage instruments and sheet music; the folks will also service your instrument.