Wouldn't it be nice to visit a deserted island one day? You know, find a spot where you can pull up to the shore and claim a small, sandy beach all to yourself? It would be even better if such a place were just a short ride from home, as opposed to traveling to some faraway part of the tropics, right?
Crank up your engines; the dream day-cation awaits in Moriches Bay. There, just north of the inlet, hidden in plain sight, is beautiful Gull Island. It's little more than a big sandbar, really, but it's positioned perfectly for local boaters to easily access it.
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"You might not find yourself completely alone here on every visit," says Douglas Grunseich, 27, of East Moriches, who visits regularly. "But you'll never find it crowded, and if you are willing to walk around a little, you can put plenty of distance between yourself and any other day-trippers. I love that you can make this place anything you want it to be with a little imagination."
As per unofficial deserted island protocol, there are no marinas here, no docks, no shopping, no stores, no structures and no facilities of any type. At first glance, you might think there is simply nothing to do here, but that's the beauty of this island: Its treasures are hidden in plain sight.
"Take the time to poke around," Grunseich says. "You'll spy seabirds of all types, find beautiful shells along the water's edge, locate shallow, sandy flats loaded with hard clams and a few steamers." There's super fishing for everything from snappers to fluke and big striped bass.
The shallows surrounding Gull Island also offer some wonderful snorkeling opportunities, but make sure to put out a diving flag if you don a mask and fins, to alert boaters in the area of your presence in the water.
WHAT TO BRING
Start with water shoes. While Gull Island may be a big sandbar, there is some driftwood to be encountered now and again, along with plenty of shells, so it's best to get to know the shoreline a bit before kicking off your shoes.
"Bug spray is another item you'll want to carry," Grunseich says.
Being that there are no trees or structures to protect you from the sun here, make sure to have sunblock on hand at all times. A big beach umbrella will give you man-made shade.
A picnic basket and cooler and scratch rake for clamming are helpful. Anglers should consider a spinning rod and bucktails for fluke or popping plugs and tin lures for stripers and bluefish. Shutterbugs should carry a long lens to capture birds in flight, along with a polarizing filter to make the uncluttered skyline here really pop.
If you plan to make a campfire, bring a few logs and some kindling wood.
There aren't any formal rules for visiting Gull Island. Simply make your own tracks, avoid crowding others and carry out whatever you bring in, and you'll fit right in. "This island is a pristine slice of near shore heaven," Grunseich says. "The overriding theme of any visit should be to keep it that way."
Gull Island is easy to find. It's south of buoy 26 and the main east/west channel on Moriches Bay, at what is known locally as the Elbow area, just inside Moriches Inlet. Launch from any boat ramp in Moriches Bay and you should be there in less than 30 minutes.
If you don't have your own vessel, you can rent one from Silly Lily Fishing Station in East Moriches (631-878-0247). A 16-foot skiff that accommodates four people runs $135 for the day and gets you there in less than 15 minutes. Private boaters can also launch here for $30 a day.
Although experienced skippers can pull up just about anywhere, Gull Island is best approached from the western shore, since the water there is deepest. Ease gently up onto the beach, or set your anchor and dinghy ashore. Time your visit for the start of outgoing tide to ensure plenty of water under your vessel as you arrive and allow the flats to drain during your visit, which increases the available area for wading and walking.