Green Ways to Visit Sandy Hook Unit
Contact: John Harlan Warren, 718-354-4608
Visiting Gateway National Recreation Area’s Sandy Hook Unit has never been easier—or greener. Two ferry services, bus shuttles and a new bicycle rental offer ways to see Sandy Hook’s beaches and byways without a car.
Ferry service reduces the number of cars driving to Sandy Hook, where parking lots often fill by 10 AM on weekends. Seastreak provides year-round service to Sandy Hook, which runs seven days a week during the summer. This season, the American Princess II began bringing visitors from Rockaway in Brooklyn and Pier 11 in Manhattan to Sandy Hook and back on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between now and Labor Day. Both ferry services now dock at Sandy Hook near the Post Theater. Gateway provides shuttle bus transportation from the Fort Hancock ferry landing to North Beach, Gunnison Beach and Beach Area E.
“One of the things many people look forward to in the summer is a relaxing day at the beach,” said Sandy Hook Unit Coordinator Pete McCarthy. “However, there are days when it seems everyone has the same idea and traffic jams are not unusual. Ferries are a great alternative to driving individually—plus, you get to see the harbor side of Sandy Hook and New York City, which is a real treat.”
The American Princess II used a grant from the National Clean Diesel Assistance Program to purchase new Tier 2 engines. Unlike typical engines, they use less fuel and emit fewer emissions than the more common Tier 1 engines. Ferry owner Tom Paladino, who has been involved in boating since 1945, recognizes the long-term benefits of the new engines, which are more expensive but also more efficient. “It’s a win-win. Our boats use less fuel each week and they’re good for the environment.”
One alternative Paladino is considering for the future is a switch to biodiesel as a fuel. Biodiesel is currently being created in the park from used French fry oil. As of this week, visitors can help create fuel in a hands-on demonstration, held Wednesday and Thursday afternoons at the North Beach Pavilion. Call 732-872-5970 for more information.
But that’s not the only way visitors can enjoy a ‘green alternative’ for transportation at Sandy Hook. No matter how visitors get to Sandy Hook, there’s also a Multi-Use Path (MUP) to enjoy once you get there. Visitors can take the scenic route by biking, rollerblading or walking.
What if you don’t own a bike? Starting this summer, you can rent one at the park. Ray’s Bike Rentals, located at Sandy Hook at Building 60 near the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, offers both adult and children’s size bicycles. This service is available Wednesday through Sunday through Labor Day and on weekends through September. Owner Raymond Smith says,” There’s no better way to see it all than on bicycle.” Reservations can be made by calling 732-754-5731.
Gateway offers natural areas to visitors which hold surprises every season of the year. To find out about things to do and special events at the park’s many locations, including Sandy Hook, visit www.nps.gov/gate.