Hampton Bays, settled in 1740 as Good Ground, has a small town feeling, unpretentious and low key. No mansions line the oceanfront in this hamlet; instead there are public Ponquogue Beach and Tiana Beach, both managed by the Town of Southampton. Waterfront restaurants on the bay and inlet are popular among locals and summer visitors. Hampton Bays is home to a commercial fishing fleet and dock owned by Southampton Town. The Shinnecock Inlet, which was created by the great hurricane of 1938, connects Shinnecock Bay to the ocean. Also in Hampton Bays, the Shinnecock Canal links Shinnecock Bay to Great Peconic Bay, enabling boats to travel between the North and South forks of Long Island. Boating and fishing are important in Hampton Bays; there are numerous marinas, boat yards and some private fishing boats available for hire.
Hampton Bays is locally oriented, without the celebrity sightings and summer social scene found farther east. The downtown area has restaurants and bars, shops and other local businesses, as well as a movie theater. The annual St. Patrick's Day parade draws pipe bands from various parts of Long Island. In autumn The San Gennaro Festival is a lively street fair with food stands, vendors, booths run by community organizations, live entertainment and fireworks. Many local families here have deep roots going back many generations. The Hampton Bays Historical Society is making efforts to preserve some of the historic buildings in town. A notable landmark here, the historic Canoe Place Inn, the oldest inn in America, is being restored to its former glory and reinvented as a large event hall with lodgings and a restaurant.
“I love where I live. Hampton Bays has the most beautiful bay and ocean beaches, from the Shinnecock Inlet to West Landing. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to watch the stunning sunsets from the back deck of Oakland’s Restaurant and Marina. Best sunset in the Hamptons!” -- Danielle Lohr
“Some brokers say, ‘location, location, location.’ In Hampton Bays I say, ‘waterfront, waterfront, waterfront.’ The ocean, Peconic Bay and Shinnecock Bay are very distinct and different waterfronts in their beauty and recreational uses. Hampton Bays also enjoys one of the largest undeveloped, protected stretches of ocean beach in the Hamptons. Also some of the best waterfront dining. In Hampton Bays we avoid the heavier traffic farther east. Having a central location and easy access to the North Fork as well as points east and west is a big plus. Home affordability is also attractive for many.” -- Brian Johnson
“I love living here because my heart and soul run deep throughout the sea and soil. I grew up in Water Mill, but my father’s family is fifth generation in Hampton Bays; now I own a house and live here, too. I love the boatable waters with their plentiful seafood; I enjoy fishing and clamming. I also love the easy access to both the north and south forks. Hampton Bays has become a younger and more vibrant community, with some great restaurants.” -- Eric Hagen
“Long-time residents have known for decades what hip buyers are just discovering – Hampton Bays is a hidden gem and the last Hamptons spot for finding real estate deals. If you love boating and beautiful beaches, it’s the only Hamptons hamlet that offers easy and direct water access to 5 waterways—the Shinnecock Canal/Inlet, Shinnecock Bay, Tiana Bay, Peconic Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Whenever I take my 2-mile round-trip walk across the Ponquogue Bridge that leads from the mainland to the ocean, I take a deep breath and say, ‘I can’t believe how lucky I am to live in this amazingly beautiful place!’” -- Aimee Fitzpatrick Martin