From surfing to yoga, why this destination is perfect for some much-needed “me” time
by Maria Benetos
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It used to be that Montauk was known as the “Hamptons without the crowds, ” – a remote fishing village and beach town with a truly laid back vibe. It felt genuine and undiscovered, which is what drew in my family when I was growing up. Summer weekends were spent flying kites on the uncrowded beaches, getting ice cream in town and eating fresh fish on the docks. To say that it changed is an understatement but that doesn’t take away from its beauty – despite the crowds, the fashion-forward boutiques, restaurants and hipster hotels, it remains a magical destination.
Can you take your kids? Absolutely! I’d recommend doing a weekend in September for that when the hordes of people have cleared a bit and the kiddos can run more freely. If you want to get there now though, I’d suggest a grown-up’s getaway either with some friends or a significant other. Montauk today provides the perfect mix of having things to do and being able sit back, relax and sun all your troubles away. Here’s a guide to my favorite spots:
To surf with the team at Cory’s Wave is to feel like you’re a part of a cool summer family. Corey and his A-list instructors pretty much guarantee you a successful (and fun!) surf experience at Montauk’s Ditch Plains. They provide a board, wetsuit and booties to help you navigate the cold waters and rocky shores, making you feel safe in their experienced hands. A client myself, along with my 6-year-old daughter who is now hooked on the sport, I can honestly say that going out into the water with these guys and girls is the highlight of my day.
Breakfast: Joni’s Kitchen 34 S Etna Plaza; jonismontauk.com, 631.668.3663
This hip little joint is a post-surf mecca for breakfast burritos both healthy and decadent, smoothies that will make you smile and my personal fave, their “Keen-Wha” bowl featuring (you guessed it) warm quinoa, crushed walnuts, dates, cranberries and milk. You can take out food or grab a picnic table outdoors and soak in the sun as you down a breakfast that is as delicious as it filling. The best part about it is its seaside vibe with turquoise hues, retro Hawaiian postcards and a crowd so cool you’ll want to go back over and over again.
Coffee: Left Hand Coffee 83 S Elmwood Ave.; lefthandcoffee.com
Practically next door to Joni’s you’ll find an artisan destination that will satisfy even the most discriminating coffee connoisseur. From cold brews and custom teas to an espresso that will knock you out of the water, Left Hand Coffee appreciates the art form of the brewing process. Owner Yannis Papagianni, a veteran of Montauk’s restaurant scene, saw a void in town for a spot that served some serious coffee with a hospitable staff (a lost art form, in my opinion) so he did it himself – and for that we are all thankful.
Workout: Love Yoga 83 S Elmwood Ave., loveyogaspace.com
After all that eating, drinking, partying and surfing, one must stretch those beautiful muscles and do a little detox… even if it is for just an hour. Enter Love Yoga, which offers multi-leveled classes for every type of student: New Love (level 1) Love Flow (level 2 ) and Tough Love (level 3). Founder Sian Gordon, who can often be found on a board in the waters of Ditch herself, set out to create a space that focused on form, sequencing and the deep teachings of the practice while also keeping a chill atmosphere. I can attest she nailed it.
Stay: Gurney’s Montauk 290 Old Montauk Highway; gurneysmontauk.com, 631.668.2345
The family-owned Gurney’s Inn that I frequented as a kid had a major renovation a few years back and is now know as Gurney’s Resort & Spa – a name change that fits its chic transformation. If you want luxury, this is the place to stay. With 38 newly renovated oceanfront rooms, an indoor seawater pool, five new dining and drinking outlets (Scarpetta Beach, Tillie’s, Corso, The Beach Club, and The Regent Cocktail Club) and beach view that slays, this is the place to see and be seen.
The original Tacombi was born on the beaches of the Yucatan serving tacos out of a VW bus and soon after expanded to New York’s Nolita with the goal sharing its love of Mexican taco culture through neighboorhood taquerias. In 2013, they went back to their beachside roots with Tacombi Montauk (aka La Brisa) which is located on a shady corner of town complete with aqua picnic benches and whimsical strung lights. Their signature homemade tortillas, authentic tacos and refreshing aquas frescas make for the perfect post-beach lunch.
Surf Shop: Air & Speed 795 Montauk Highway; airandspeedsurf.com, 631.668.0356
You know you’ve come upon something good when you ask the locals where to buy a wetsuit and all send you to same location – Air & Speed Surfshop. Upon entering the store I was immediately greeted by someone who genuinely took the time to take me through all my options, stating the pros and cons of each suit. I’m now a regular, having purchased everything from my daughter’s surfboard and skateboard to rash guards and backpacks from the shop. Their curation is on point and their customer service goes above and beyond.
Dinner: Crow’s Nest 4 Old West Lake Drive; crowsnestmtk.com, 631.668.2077
The first time I had dinner at Crow’s nest a few years back, my first thought was “this place is pure magic” and that sentiment remains to this day. Overlooking the bay with sunset views that take your breath away, the decor has a British colony in Africa vibe yet still feels very beachy. With strung lights and fire pits scattered throughout the outdoor areas of the property, the atmosphere is positively intoxicating. And let’s not forget about the food – outstanding Mediterranean dishes like local fluke crudo and grilled lamb chops are the perfect summer fare.