Captains and families on the Long Island Sound do not have to go far for a fun weekend on their boat. Long Island’s North Shore has six “exits” off the Long Island Sound that are worth a visit. These include three bays, two harbors and an inlet.
At these six North Shore ports of call, you will find boutiques, bars, micro-breweries, entertainment and good food. Some have museums and historical walking tours. If you just want peace and quiet, there is always a place in the bay where you can throw the hook and be alone. During some of our visits, we would combine the best of town offerings with the solitude of the bay by splitting a couple of night’s dockside and another night or two at anchor.
This is the second of a six-part series on Long Island’s North Shore places to play.
Hempstead Harbor is your second exit off the Long Island Sound. It is situated between the mansions and sand hills of the Port Washington peninsula to the west side and Glen Cove, the bluff at Sea Cliff and village of Roslyn Harbor to the east. Hempstead Harbor is almost four miles long. It is about two miles wide near the mouth but narrows down to a little more than a quarter-mile wide about halfway down. Here, dolphins and whales have been spotted occasionally. There are no hazards in entering the harbor. If entering in low visibility or at night pay attention to the small jetty on the east side and the larger jetty at Morgan Park.
Hempstead Harbor offers several beaches one can dinghy to. The western side of the bay has the beach off of the Sands Point Preserve near the head of the harbor. Beaches with facilities can be found at North Hempstead Beach Park or Tappan Beach where the harbor narrows. There are also beaches at Sea Cliff and Morgan Memorial Park in Glen Cove.
This harbor the only safe refuge for boaters in between Oyster Bay and Manhasset Bay caught in a storm. Here you are protected from winds that are due east and west. For winds from the north, a boat will have some sea protection anchoring south of jetty at Morgan Park in Glen Cove.
Overnight transients can dock at Safe Harbor in the Glen Cove Creek. Entrance to the creek should be done directly in the middle of the channel. This is even more important at low tide. Boaters should avoid being near the wall on the north side of the creek. The entrance to the creek is very dark with no markers lit, so go very slow. Once inside the creek there is plenty of ambient lighting from the street poles and marina lights. You will see Safe Harbor on your starboard that takes up nearly the entire south side and the RXR construction and apartments to your port.
For fuel or transient dockage call 516-671-5563 for slip reservations. Safe Harbor (https://shmarinas.com/locations/safe-harbor-glen-cove/) is a full service marina with both gas and diesel fuel. It also has a swimming pool and Laura’s BBQ and Smoke House restaurant on-premises.
If you wish to be on a mooring ball you can call the Sea Cliff Yacht Club at 516-671-7374 or hail them on channel 9. The Hempstead Harbour Yacht Club has a few guest moorings on a first come first serve basis. You can call ahead to check availability at 516-671-0600. This club is a BYO on food and drink but they do have grills. Call channel 72 to arrange your visit.
Gold Coast Mansions
Boaters in the area should take the time to cruise into the harbor to see the mansions mostly on the port peninsula. Two standouts include the Hempstead House, also known as the Gould-Guggenheim Estate, and its neighbor Falaise. The Hempstead House is an impressive castle-looking structure with an 80-foot tower.
It holds 40 rooms on three levels and was built in 1909. To visit the grounds, boaters need to anchor out and dinghy in.
The Falaise mansion next door was built during the Gatsby era in in the style of a 13th century Norman Manor House.
It is furnished with antiques from the 16th and 17th centuries and was left almost the way it was when Harry Guggenheim owned it. For information on touring this great estate go to www.sandspointpreserveconservancy.org.
On the northeast side of the harbor in Glen Cove, one can view the queen of the Gold Coast Mansions. This was the former estate of Charles Pratt. It sits tall and bold with lots of chimneys. It is now the famous naval architectural school called The Webb Institute. This mansion was built between 1912 and 1914. It also served as “stately Wayne Manor” in the earlier Batman movies.
You can continue your scenic cruise down the harbor to see mansions on the Sands Point side, village of Roslyn Harbor as well as the pretty homes on the Sea Cliff bluff.
Victorian Village by the Sea
A good place to stretch your sea legs when visiting Hempstead Harbor is in the Village of Sea Cliff. Sea Cliff bills itself as “A Victorian Village by the Sea”. This pretty village has a large collection of Victorian homes with their pretty patios, gingerbread molding and widows’ peaks.
Its main street, Sea Cliff Avenue offers a deli, banking, a wine store, a few good restaurants and a pub. On the weekends, music is usually played at the pub and some of the restaurants.
Sea Cliff has a museum in the middle of the village worth a short visit. There, ask for a walking map which takes you on pretty streets and hidden staircase passages up or down the hills.
If you are need provisions take a taxi to King Kullen or Stop and Shop in Glen Cove.
The two dock and dine places in Glen Cove are the Cove Restaurant at the end of the creek and Laura’s BBQ mentioned earlier.
The Cove can get “clubby” on weekend nights. To get to the Sea Cliff restaurants allow 20 minutes to walk up the hill to Sea Cliff Avenue. We have tried all the restaurants in town and never had a bad meal.
The City of Glen Cove offers enough restaurants for every taste and budget with many of them on School Street and Glen Street.
My favorites include the Meritage Wine Bar for their delicious tapas, main courses and amazing wine-paired dinners. La Bussola’s reputation for tasty Italian dishes makes it a favorite of Glen Covers. For sushi, try Tokyo Sushi which is where I have seen Billy Joel get his fix on a couple of occasions. Downtown Café is an informal Italian style place with good pizza. For lunch, I would not miss Chef Morris’ baked empanadas. During the summer of 2021, School Street will be shut down as a pedestrian dining area Thursday to Saturday evenings. Very good bagels can be walked to at Brendel’s on the north side of the creek.
Getting to town from the marina or yacht club is an easy 20-minute walk or fast cab ride. If you are in the marina or yacht club parking lot, ask a fellow boater for a lift.
Information on Sea Cliff can be found at www.seacliff-ny.gov while the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce can be found at www.glencovechamber.org
Two highlights to look forward to every season is the Memorial Weekend fireworks at the south part of Hempstead Harbor and the July 4th fireworks off Morgan Park. Many boaters also take their families to the oldest Italian feast on Long Island which will be held in North Hempstead Park Sept 3rd to the 7th.
Glen Cove is our homeport so hail the Miracle on Channel 9
Tab Hauser writes and photographs about travel and boating worldwide. He currently runs www.GlenCoveCruises.Com charters out of Glen Cove. You can find some of his cruising stories by web searching “Long Island Boating World Tab Hauser” Email questions on cruising to firstname.lastname@example.org.