The secret of Tiana Beach — long described by residents and town officials as a hidden gem among some of Southampton’s very popular beaches — appears to be getting out.
The 1,000-foot ocean beach off Dune Road in Hampton Bays was recently ranked No. 4 among the “Top 10 Beaches in New York State,” according to a list from USA Today. It was one of seven Long Island beaches on the list, finishing ahead of Coopers Beach in Southampton, Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton Beach and Hither Hills State Park in Montauk. The top spot went to the Fire Island National Seashore.
“This recognition confirms what we already know, that our beaches are among the finest in the state," said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. "Indeed, I believe they are some of the best beaches in the world.”
Town parks director Kristen Doulos said the beach has an “off the beaten path” charm to it, having gotten quiet over the years after neighboring nightclubs left the area.
Tiana Beach — which drew 70,897 people in 2017, according to Southampton Parks and Recreations Department estimates — has been mostly a quiet local attraction compared to the more popular Ponquogue Beach just a mile to the east.
"You look around and you don’t see houses, you just see Mother Nature,” said Maria Hulse, 72, a 45-year resident of Hampton Bays and vice president of the Hampton Bays Civic Association.
Southampton Councilwoman Christine Scalera, who works closely with Parks and Recreations, said the town has over the years invested in several projects at the beach to make it a more viable tourist attraction.
In 2017, the town partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension to build the Tiana Bayside Recreation Facility & Marine Education and Outreach Center on Dune Road, which holds town-sponsored swimming, sailing, kayaking and wind surfing lessons, as well as marine, art and science programs.
Scalera said the improvements and the programs have slowly helped the beach become more popular.
“It’s a nice boost to the hamlet of Hampton Bays, which is very well-deserving of it,” she said.
Officials said planned projects across the 1.1-mile section of Hampton Bays stretching from Tiana Beach to Ponquogue Beach could help further the area's growing popularity. The town is building a fishing pier at the old Ponquogue Bridge, and officials are planning a roughly $2 million renovation of the Ponquogue Beach Pavilion that will include new siding, roofing, cupolas and an expanded deck and is expected to be finished by spring 2019.
The improvements will likely increase the number of tourists and beachgoers, a change Hulse, an avid scuba diver, said she is looking forward to.
“I think it’s fair to say Hampton Bays is looking for the tourist industry,” Hulse said. “You could shop in town, you could eat in our restaurants. It's a great day vacation.”