Because the Atlantic side is open to the ocean, it is more rugged and wilder than the Caribbean side. There are more cliffs, more scenic vistas, and much wilder water. There are real waves! So undertow can be a concern. Except in some protected coves, drop off usually occurs rapidly. For the beach comber, the Atlantic side will yield more interesting items. Although in terms of shelling they seem equal. Atlantic side beaches generally provide little protection to get out of the sun. Most of the vegetation on this side is low to the ground. Getting to Atlantic side beaches is generally more difficult, the major reasons being that the QH tends to stay closer to the Caribbean side of the island and one has to cross the ridge that forms the spine of the island. Atlantic side beaches are generally rockier in several respects: there are more promontories jutting into the water; there are more ‘table’ rock formations that go into the water; and there are many reefs close in to many of these beaches.
Whatever has been said regarding Atlantic beaches can be reversed for Caribbean side beaches. The water is usually calm. Waves are nonexistent or small. There is little undertow. They are shallow. You may be able to wade out 100 yards and only be waist high in water at low tide. Getting to them is much easier. Until Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015 ravaged the Caribbean side, these beaches had gorgeous trees at the edge providing lovely shade to get out of the sun and enjoy the view. The hurricane did significantly change at least one of these beaches and also, except for the most intrepid, made it almost impossible to get to another.
Local names are used as much as possible. For those that I’ve named or have given alternate names, I’ve tried to use a visual cue which ties in with how to get to the beach or what’s there once you get there. Note that there are variant spellings of many place names. Also the use of an apostrophe ‘s’ to indicate possession, e.g. Rose’s, over the years has been dropped and you’ll just see the plural form, e.g. Roses, used instead.
This brings us to the question: Which are Long Island’s best beaches? There are those for which a quick stop of 5-15 minutes may be enough to put a check mark on your Long Island beach bucket list. Then there are those that you’ll have to or want to spend some time, maybe an hour or two or repeated visits, to fully get to know and appreciate. For Long Island, it’s difficult to separate the two as a beach’s character and nature can change in as little as 100 feet and as little as 10 minutes. And the choice is often a matter of personal taste and preference. I’ll indicate which are quick stops and which require more time to experience. But remember, this is just one person’s opinion.
On the individual beach pages, I’ve tried to give the visitor an idea on (1) how to get to a beach and (2) what to expect when they get there. Of course, the visitor may reverse the order. Their first question may be “What beach do I want to visit?” followed by “How do I get there?”. Road and beach maps will be included on each beach page as deemed necessary. Because of the great number of beaches, there are two overview beach maps, one for the greater Salt Pond area and the other for the great stretch of near south Atlantic side beaches. Also, to keep the navigation bar a bit neater, I've also created a Clarence Town sub section for the Near South. Links to the Greater Salt Pond and Greater South Beaches maps will be included in their respective areas.