Journal #3

The timeless allure of The Hamptons

All empty beaches and understated glamour, Long Island’s loveliest spot still casts its spell on Manhattan’s high society

Words by: David Annand

Sunset along the beach at Towd Point in Southampton, Long Island

In his most famous novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald has his narrator, Nick Carraway, say of Jay Gatsby: ‘If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life.’ And so it is with Long Island, where Gatsby had made his home; a place of windswept dunes, clapboard houses and the kind of gorgeousness that really does awaken you to life’s possibilities.

Back in the 1920s when Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived on the island, the north coast was the Manhattanite playground, the go-to destination for Upper East Siders when they wanted beachside frolics and spectacular parties. These days, the mantle has been taken by the Hamptons, at the far east end of the island, which is now firmly established as the weekend destination of choice for New York’s affluent elite. And it’s easy to see why. The Hamptons has managed, somehow, to maintain its timeless allure, all empty beaches, quaint villages, and a kind of kick-your-shoes-off understated elegance that you just really don’t find anywhere else. 

An aerial view of Martha’s Vineyard, famous for its sumptuous sunsets and beautiful beaches

Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. Before it became the playground it is today, the Hamptons and its environs had a rich merchant history. As early as 1690, Long Islanders were signing commercial fishing contracts and the island of Nantucket, 200 miles to the east, would go on to be the whaling capital of the world, kickstarting America’s maritime supremacy. In the classic novel Moby Dick, author Herman Melville seemed to sense that these small islands would birth a nation of all-conquering seafarers: ‘And thus have these naked Nantucketers, these sea hermits, issuing from their ant-hill in the sea, overrun and conquered the watery world like so many Alexanders.’

A panoramic view of Montauk Point State Park Lighthouse, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from Long Island’s most eastern tip

These days, one of the great joys of the New England coast is exploring the area by boat, which is why J Craft chose it as their USA home away from home. With its sheltered bays, excellent fishing and great choice of dock and dine restaurants, it’s a part of the world that feels like it was practically designed for gadding about on the water in high style. There is no better way of doing so than on a J Craft Torpedo – a vessel whose hand-crafted assemblage, classically handsome appearance and promise of windswept adventure encapsulates the region’s stylish and storied environs. 

Whether voyaging around Nantucket and up to Martha’s Vineyard, or dropping anchor outside a fine seafood diner near Sunset Cove, we’ve compiled a few ideas of how to best charter your course onboard your own J Craft Torpedo in the Hamptons.

The Hamptons

The place to base yourself is, of course, the Hamptons itself. Rent a villa with a dock so you can park your car and forget about it as you explore the area on the water. For the best beaches, drop anchor at Road D near Southampton on the Shinnecock spit, which is an ideal place for a traditional New England clam bake. Or to experience a Long Island sunset in all its glory, head to the lovely, sheltered Napeague beach in East Hampton. 

The Hamptons offers an array of luxurious waterfront hotels to stay at including Gurney’s Montauk (pictured left) and the White Elephant resort in Nantucket (pictured right)

If your preference is for a hotel, then book in at Gurney’s Montauk for the ultimate Hamptons experience, with its ultra-glam beach club, high-end restaurant and ocean-view suites. Or, for something a little homelier, head to the Huntting Inn on Main Street in East Hampton.  

The area has a long history of playing home to artists – Max Ernst, Fernand Léger and Willem de Kooning all made home there at one point or another. But the area’s most famous painterly residents are surely Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, whose old house has been preserved as a National Historic Landmark, at which you can book tours of their old studios. You can walk to it from Sunset Cove marina. The Hamptons cultural history gets its most exuberant modern expression at the Herzog and de Meuron-designed Parrish Art Museum, where the permanent collection includes works by both Pollock and Krasner, de Kooning, Dan Flavin and a host of other artists.  

Jackson Pollock (far left) and Lee Krasner (far right), pictured in The Hamptons in 1952; The Pollock Krasner House is a National Historic Landmark with tours of the studios available to visitors. Images courtesy of the Pollock Krasner Foundation

The Hamptons is famous as one of America’s great culinary centres and many of its restaurants have slips so you can boat there for lunch. Among the island’s best dock and dine restaurants is walk ins-only Duryea’s in Montauk, famous for its seafood and sublime sunsets. For hearty, uncomplicated Italian food try Tutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbour where they turn out plates of linguine with clams and whole roasted branzino.  

Dock and dine restaurant Duryea’s in Montauk (pictured left) is famous for its seafood and sublime sunsets; North Fork Table & Inn (pictured right) offers fine dining that celebrates the bounty of Long Island’s farms, vineyards and waterways

North Fork and Shelter Island

From your base on the South Fork, head over to the island’s other peninsular, the more rustic North Fork, dubbed, as is the American way, NoFo. Here, the wine flows like water at its many wineries and in pretty Southold there’s a great hotel, the Shoals, which has a slip for each of its 20 suites. Southold is home to loads of super restaurants including the North Fork Table & Inn, and it’s an excellent base for exploring nearby Shelter Island. Drop anchor at the sheltered West Neck Harbour and hike to the lovely Mashomack Nature Preserve, where you can kayak in its creeks, surrounded by birds. 

You can hike to Mashomack Nature Preserve from West Neck Harbour, and kayak in its bird-filled creeks

Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard

A J Craft Torpedo makes light work of the 120 nautical-mile journey from Sag Harbour to Nantucket, the history-steeped island 30 miles south of Cape Cod. Come here to shuck oysters, stroll the cobbled streets and explore your inner Ahab (the island is the setting for Melville’s Moby Dick). Stay at the White Elephant waterfront resort, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from the Nantucket Boat Basin. 

The glorious island of Martha’s Vineyard, 30 miles or so west of Nantucket, is famous for its sumptuous sunsets and beautiful beaches, but not, confusingly, for wine: despite its name it doesn’t have a single active winery. Still, it’s a fantastic place to eat and drink; try Garde East in Vineyard Haven for its award-winning wine list. 

From the laid-back glamour of East Hampton to the unspoilt natural beauty of “up-island” Martha’s Vineyard, New England’s rich boating heritage and world-class hospitality make it one of the world’s great summertime destinations for yacht owners.

The waterfront restaurant Garde East in Vineyard Haven is renowned for its fresh seafood, local produce and award-winning wine list
The view out across the boat basin from downtown Nantucket

David Annand is editorial director of the travel platform Secret Trips

If you would like to experience a J Craft Torpedo at any of the above destinations this summer, please reach out to to express your interest. J Craft will also be in residence at the Newport Boat Show from 14-17 September, the Annapolis Power Boat Show from 5-9 October, the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show from 26-30 October and finally at the Ocean Reef Club Vintage Weekend from 1-4 December. See EVENTS for more details about J Craft’s summer/autumn in the USA, as well as our European event schedule.