Going to the beach after Labor Day in the Northeast is a privilege and/or a gamble. This year, Long Island has had temperatures in the low to mid-70s, with low humidity and a fresh breeze. Not beach weather for most people! The life guards have gone, and swimming is discouraged if not forbidden on many ocean beaches. But wet-suited surfers wait off shore for a good wave; some people still sit on the sand and grab some rays, but more families now walk the beaches than sit on them…
East of Riverhead, the quiet waters and sandy beaches of Peconic Bay separate the North and South Forks of eastern Long Island – the small towns of Mattituck, Cutchogue, Southold, Greenport and Orient amid the rural farmlands on the north; to the south, the mansions and estates of the rich in Sag Harbor, Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Montauk .
Mattituck town beach, where families can still enjoy a sunny July day, looks south on Great Peconic Bay, with Shelter Island to its east. The small fishing harbor at New Suffolk now shelters mostly pleasure boats.
The Pine Barrens are the Island’s last wilderness – now mainly in a 100,000 acre protected area of woodlands, ponds and streams in Riverhead and Brookhaven townships, the headwaters of the Peconic River and Bay. Pitch pine and oak thrive in the meager sandy soil, a remnant of the coastal forest that once stretched from Cape Cod, MA to Cape May, NJ.