How to Enjoy Long Island Beaches in 2021: Capacity Limits, Residency Requirements, and More

Head to Hither Hills State Park for a family beach day, but beware the reduced capacity and arrive early.
Head to Hither Hills State Park for a family beach day, but beware the reduced capacity and arrive early.

Memorial Day weekend is around the corner, and summer is almost upon us, and that means soon Long Island beaches soon open for the season. As more and more places start opening and restrictions are cautiously lifted, we're feeling optimistic about summer in the sun, but what can you expect for beach access in 2021?

It’s no secret Long Island has some of the best beaches for families, and the good news is, while beach visits may not be totally back to normal, restrictions are lighter than last season. Here’s what families can expect come Saturday, May 29, when lifeguards take to their stands marking the unofficial start of the summer season.

If you want to explore other local shores, we've got all the details you need to plan a visit to the Jersey Shore or beaches in New York City. 

Editor's note: While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, and pack plenty of hand sanitizer.

How to Access State Park Beaches on LI in 2021

Currently, capacity at state park beaches on Long Island, including Hither Hills, Jones Beach, Montauk Point, Orient Beach, Robert Moses, Sunken Meadow, and Wildwood, still stands at 50%, and social distancing and mask-wearing requirements remain in effect. Changes to CDC guidelines may alter these capacity limits, but, for now, beachgoers should plan to arrive at their destination early to snag a parking spot and a place to spread out on the sand.

Some exciting news at Jones Beach: This year marks the return of the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, which was canceled last year. Tickets can be purchased online. Also opening are the Wild Play Adventure Course and the Splash Pad at Field 4.

Access to County and Town Beaches in 2021

Similar 50% capacity restrictions are in place at county and town beaches but could change with further guidance. Nassau County officials have asked for an increase to allow full capacity.

At Suffolk County beaches such as Cedar Point, Cupsogue Beach, and Smith Point, access is not be limited to residents, so that’s welcome news for out-of-town visitors.

Nickerson Beach in Nassau County and Town of Hempstead beaches such as Town Park at Point Lookout and Lido Beach Town Park are only open to Nassau County and town residents. Long Beach is also currently limited to residents of the City of Long Beach only. But, keep in mind, these resident-only restrictions were eventually lifted in 2020, so hopefully, that happens sooner-than-later this year.

RELATED: How to Visit the Jersey Shore Beaches in 2021

the walk to the beach
Fire Island offers a sweet respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Fire Island National Seashore Access in 2021

There's lots of good news regarding increased access for visitors to Fire Island. All Fire Island beaches, including the very family-friendly Ocean Beach, will open to full capacity, although mask wearing and social distancing, especially while walking the many trails and boardwalks along the seashore, is encouraged. The Fire Island Lighthouse is open to visitors and offers tours at reduced capacity, as is the Fresnel Lens building.

Before you hit any of these Long Island shores, it’s best to check specific websites for the latest updates.

Photos by Mommy Poppins

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