A summer's day at Jones Beach in Wantagh, New York. Editorial credit: James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Jones Beach Island

Jones Beach Island is an outer barrier island off the southern coast of Long Island in New York State, United States. It is named after Major Thomas Jones, an Irishman who came to Long Island in 1692 and has often been referred to as the unofficial founder of the area. Jones established a home and a whaling station on the island, near the site now known as Jones Beach State Park. The island is also sometimes called Oak Beach Island because it housed the infamous Oak Beach Inn.

Geography Of Jones Beach Island

Jones Beach Island
Aerial view of the Long Island's south coast with the Jones Beach Island in foreground and the town of Point Lookout NY in background.

Jones Beach Island is technically its own island, a tiny thin strip of land on the southern side of the larger Long Island. It is separated from Long Island by South Oyster Bay and Great South Bay. On the west, it is split from Long Beach Barrier Island by Jones Inlet, and on the east, Fire Island Inlet forms a barrier between Jones Beach and Fire Islands. The island itself is in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. The southern edge of the island is made up of primarily sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. This area includes Jones Beach State Park, on the western point. 

Jones Beach Island can be reached via the Meadowbrook State Parkway, which runs between Long Island and Merrick, and the Wantagh State Parkway, which connects Long Island to Wantagh. It can also be accessed via Robert Moses Causeway across the State Boat Channel Bridge and Great South Bay Bridge and connects to Fire Island through the Fire Island Inlet Bridge. All three causeways are connected by the Ocean Parkway, which runs the entire length of the island. 

Parks And Sanctuaries In Jones Beach Island

Jones beach island
Ring-billed gull on the sand at Jones Beach.

There are a number of parks and reserves on this small island. One of the large ones is the Jones Beach State Park. This park measures roughly 10.5 kilometers in length and is known for its beaches, as it is generally long and narrow in shape. This park is one of the more popular summer recreation places for those traveling from the New York metropolitan area, with an estimated 6 million visitors per year. The park includes an outdoor arena, Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, a 3.2-kilometer boardwalk, restaurants and eateries, and waterfront recreations.Other parks on the small island include John F. Kennedy Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the Town of Oyster Bay wildlife preserve which is popular for birdwatchers, Tobay Beach which is also a Town of Oyster Bay beach, Gilgo Beach, Cedar Beach, and Overlook Beach as well as Captree State Park on the eastern end of the island. Captree is popular for water sports as well as a departure sight for anglers hunting fluke, sea bass, and flounder, while the piers in the park are popular spots for more coastal fishing and crabbing.

Oak Beach Inn

Oak Beach Inn was a nightclub on Jones Beach Island. The nightclub was extremely popular but also fraught with controversy. The owner of the club (and subsequent franchised clubs of the same name) sued the town twice over parking issues and ran campaigns advocating for people to get out of New York City. On the flip side, his club was raided a year before this campaign, and one of the locations burned down only a few years after opening in what was a suspected mob-related arson act. Eventually, the club property was sold in 1999, originally for condos, but was then sold again without any development or building having started and became a park. 

The Oak Beach Inn (OBI) is also thought to be the Long Island Iced Tea's birthplace (an alcoholic drink that incidentally has no tea in it at all). The drink was said to have been first created by Robert Butt in the 1970s.

Jones beach island
A beach in the Jones Beach Island. Editorial credit: TYeu / Shutterstock.com

Overall, the island remains a popular destination for summer travel. Its clean beaches provide recreational and outdoor opportunities with lovely views of the Atlantic Ocean and easy access to and from the city area. Though the focus of the island's economy and attractions have changed somewhat over the last few decades, it remains a popular vacation destination for New Yorkers and those in the surrounding neighborhoods and cities.


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