Right about now we all could use a break from social media’s endless scroll, if only to rest our eyes. But that can be a challenge for news junkies and the Facebook-obsessed alike around WiFi-saturated Long Island.
If you can’t stop obsessively checking poll aggregators, pandemic news and celebrity gossip sites, nature can pull the plug for you. Wi-Fi is at best spotty at Montauk Point’s state parks, for instance, and it cuts out completely on an offshore Captree fishing trip.
Going tech cold turkey can be restorative, according to Linda Lombardo, a certified forest therapy guide who leads monthly walks at the Sands Point Preserve. "Cutting ourselves off from a technology addiction, even for short periods of time, creates a space for us to detox, restore and rejuvenate," Lombardo said.
Here are digital deserts where you couldn’t check your newsfeed even if you wanted to.
VISIT A PRESERVE
Sands Point Preserve
You can stay connected on the grounds around Sand’s Point's preserved mansions, Castle Gould and Hempstead House. But wander onto one of the six marked trails at the 200-plus acre preserve, and you’re in the Wi-Fi dead zone.
"You really can’t get a signal out there in the forest," says Beth Horn, executive director of the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy. Decompress by reflecting at a freshwater pond, picnicking at a table overlooking the Long Island Sound, or treating the kids to romp at the Woodland Playground.
Lombardo’s next Forest Therapy Walk is scheduled for from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m Nov. 14. Meet under the clock tower at Gould Castle for the walk that's limited to 12 people, registration required ($40, 516-304-5076)
INFO 127 Middle Neck Rd., Sands Point, 516-571-7901, sandspointpreserve.org. Garden and forest trails open 1 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $15 a car at contactless pay station; $4 for walk-ins.
Mashomack Preserve, Shelter Island
The Nature Conservancy’s 2,039-acre preserve, which covers more than a quarter of Shelter Island, lies about as far as you can get from the well-connected resorts. "There’s no Wi-Fi and the cellphone reception is spotty once you head off on the 25 miles of trails," says preserve director Jeremy Samuelson. Calm your shattered nerves spotting wildlife such as eastern red fox, river otters, a nesting pair of American Bald eagles, and a mix of feathered friends from migrant to resident shore birds. Walk until the scenery (and your heart) opens up on remote sandy beaches overlooking Gardiners Bay and Gardiners Island. Note: You'll need to get there via ferry from Greenport or Sag Harbor.
INFO 79 S. Ferry Rd., Shelter Island. Closed Tuesdays in November and December. Admission is free, nature.org/mashomack.
Like the rest of Long Island, the Captree fishing fleet has been rocked by the COVID-19 epidemic. Fishing boat trips are still running from the state park boat basin in Bay Shore, although the experience is different. Anglers must wear face coverings and follow social distancing guidelines, and the boats are limited to one-third capacity, says Neil Delanoy, captain of the Laura Lee Express. Delanoy’s day trips head to fishing grounds 20 to 25 miles out to sea. "Ten miles off shore, you lose reception" on your cellphone, Delanoy said.
Stay offline while you cast a line for sea bass, porgies, bluefish, cod and albacore.
INFO 631-661-1867, captreefleet.com; Laura Lee trips cost $85 weekdays, $105 weekends
HEAD TO 'THE END'
At Montauk Point’s big state parks, the Wi-Fi is spotty or nonexistent, says park manager Thomas Dess. Grab sandwiches, drinks and chips at the IGA (654 Montauk Hwy., Montauk Village), then drive east on Route 27 into the WiFi-less wilderness.
At 451-acre Camp Hero State Park you can hike, bicycle or horseback ride on the welter of trails year-round. Have an offseason picnic on the beach while you trade conspiracy theories about the park’s spooky, decommissioned military base (reportedly an inspiration for the "Stranger Things" TV series.). Admission is $8 weekends only through Nov. 8.
For equally stunning scenery, head to nearby 99-acre Shadmoor State Park to hike along the oceanfront bluffs, fish from the beach, and check out the abandoned World War II era bunkers that once bristled with artillery guns (900 Montauk Highway, 631-668-3781). Dess suggests a side trip on a park trail to surfer paradise Ditch Plains beach.
At Amsterdam Beach Preserve, an undeveloped 199-acre state park between Camp Hero and Shadmoor, the scenery on the trail loop off Ranch Road includes an estate once owned by the internationally acclaimed artist Andy Warhol.