Maryszka Osaki, of Centereach, with her 1971 Airstream RV camper at...

Maryszka Osaki, of Centereach, with her 1971 Airstream RV camper at Shinnecock County Park East in Southampton. Credit: /Morgan Campbell

To introduce the sport of off-roading to a new generation, Keri Shea, 45, of Massapequa, is driving on the sand this season with her 6-year-old nephew, Monti. 

Sitting in a child safety seat in the back of Shea’s 2018 Toyota 4Runner, Monti recently took his first ride along Burma Road, the name given to the soft sand trail to the inlet at Smith Point County Park in Shirley.

“He even helped air up and down the tires,” a step that makes it easier to drive on sand, says Shea. The special-education teacher, lifelong boater and angler learned such tips in a Long Island Beach Buggy Association (LIBBA) how-to course.

“Being out on the beach, driving toward the sunset or sunrise is such a great reminder of the freedom and healthy lifestyle I have created for myself,” Shea says of the off-road adventures she’s currently sharing with her “little fishing buddy.”

Ready to hit the beach in your own 4x4 vehicle? You don’t have to join an off-roading club to take your SUV or Jeep for a beach ride to go fishing, camping, swimming or tailgate partying at the surf’s doorstep. All you need is an appropriately equipped four-wheel-drive vehicle, an adventurous spirit, and a special permit to drive on the beach.

“It’s a great mini vacation and a great sense of camaraderie," LIBBA president Klaus "Cooky" Rondinella says of off-roading. The 1,600-member organization advocates for greater beach and fishing access and hosts beach cleanups and other conservation activities, Rondinella says.

Richie Hawalder, throws the ball to his sister Carley and...

Richie Hawalder, throws the ball to his sister Carley and brother Kevin, outside their camper at Theodore Roosevelt County Park in Montauk. Credit: Linda Rosier


Smith Point County Park continues to be among Suffolk County’s most popular off-roading destinations, according to the Department of Parks. On any given day, off-roaders pitch tents in front of their vehicles for a waterfront cabana vibe.

Smith Point is where Dylan Jewell, 35, of Shirley, takes his family on off-road fishing, camping and wildlife viewing expeditions.

“The kids and I saw dolphins, whales and seals off of Smith Point last year,” says Jewell, who drives his 2017 Dodge Ram to quiet, uncrowded stretches of the beach where wildlife is more abundant. Jewell pitches a tent for shade, goes surf-casting for striped bass and digs a makeshift kiddie pool in the sand for his children to play in.

“It’s like therapy,” Jewell says of his off-roading getaways. “It brings you to a different place in your life where you get to slow down.”

Suffolk County Parks outer beach access


Off-roaders can explore seven county beaches — Smith Point, Cupsogue, Cedar Point, Montauk among them — with an annual recreational vehicle use permit ($100 Suffolk residents with Green Key card, which costs $30/three years) and $33 vehicle day use fee.

Long Island Beach Buggy Association president Klaus Rondinella in front...

Long Island Beach Buggy Association president Klaus Rondinella in front of his RV at Robert Moses State Park. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Long Island state parks


Four-wheel-drive beach vehicle access fishing permits ($80/New York State residents, $125/nonresidents) for Democrat Point and Sore Thumb Beach in Robert Moses State Park, Gilgo State Park in Babylon, and Hither Hills, Montauk Point and Napeague State Parks in Montauk are sold by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation from the Tuesday after Labor Day, Sept. 3 to Dec. 31, and then from Jan. 1 to March 31.

Fire Island National Seashore


Recreational driving permits for anglers and hunters are available for the 1 1/2-mile beach west of the Fire Island Wilderness Center to Old Inlet. Permits cost $50 beginning Sept. 1 for use between Sept. 15 and Dec. 31.


Long Island Beach Buggy Association (LIBBA), 516-859-5266, Get info on mandated gear, upcoming beach environmental projects, tours and classes.

Long Island Off Road, Group trail rides on private and public lands throughout the Northeast (excluding Long Island).


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