The Montauk Lighthouse.

The Montauk Lighthouse. Credit: Getty Images iStockphoto

During the past 20 years, Montauk has developed multiple personalities. Originally a fishing village at the farthest eastern reach of Long Island, it has come to take on aspects of a family-friendly beach destination, a hippie surfer haven and the Brooklyn of the East End. With the renovation of Gurney’s Inn, there is lately a hint of South Beach in the air. Explore each layer to make the most of a vacation here.

WHERE TO STAY Waterfront views

Stand up paddleboards are available on the beach at Gurney's...

Stand up paddleboards are available on the beach at Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Renovated a few years ago in high Miami style, Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa is the place to go for true resort amenities. There’s a 2,000-foot stretch of private beach. The spa includes an ocean-fed pool. A half-dozen bars and restaurants provide food and drink. With the recent addition of the Montauk Yacht Club, now Gurney’s Yacht Club, Gurney’s has a lock on high-end hotel rooms in Montauk. 290 Old Montauk Hwy., 631-668-2345, gurneysresorts.com.

A room in the Haven Montauk, a modest two-story bayside motel...

A room in the Haven Montauk, a modest two-story bayside motel that's been in business for 30 years, it has kept up with the times. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

A modest two-story bayside motel that’s been in business for 30 years, Haven Montauk has kept up with the times. Rooms and suites have bright white walls and linens, colorful accents and beach-themed photographs. A common area with picnic tables is a lively predinner gathering spot for guests, and a fire pit serves the same function on a chilly night. Beach parking passes, towels, bikes and paddleboards are free for guests. 533 W. Lake Dr., 631-668-7000, havenmontauk.com.

The Hero Beach Club is a family-friendly spot with a boho Palm Springs vibe. Furniture is from Bali. A garden is equipped with daybeds, lawn games and colorful large-scale sculptures. The hotel organizes film screenings, yoga sessions and bonfires for guests. A quick stroll to restaurants, ice cream and mini-golf. The Hero club is also a short walk through the dunes to the ocean beach. 626 Montauk Hwy., 631-668-9825, herobeachclub.com.

Although it's old-school, Hartman's Briney Breezes has spick-and-span updated rooms with fully equipped kitchenettes and dramatic ocean views. Stroll to town for a bite, or use one of the motel’s barbecues to enjoy an evening cookout. A pool overlooking the water is a good place for rinsing off after a day at the beach across the street. 693 Old Montauk Hwy., 631-668-2290, brineybreezes.com.

WHAT TO DO Sights, hikes and relaxation 

Visitors take advantage of a pool table outside George's Lighthouse...

Visitors take advantage of a pool table outside George's Lighthouse Cafe in Montauk. They are, from left,  Alejandro Reyes, Southampton; Natalie Ramirez, Queens; and Daisy Ramos, Hampton Bays. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Climb to the top of the Montauk Lighthouse for a 360-degree view that includes the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound. It is the oldest lighthouse in New York State and still aids in navigation. A museum and visitors’ center provide historical context and technical information. This year there is a new restaurant and bar, George’s Lighthouse Café, where you can have a drink while enjoying the sunset. 2000 Montauk Hwy., 631-668 2544, montauklighthouse.com.

Petrus Lehto, Oona Lehto, Kauri Lehto, and Janne Lehto from...

Petrus Lehto, Oona Lehto, Kauri Lehto, and Janne Lehto from Finland enjoying Montauk State Park, Montauk.  Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Hit the hiking trails at Shadmoor State Park, which winds along dramatic bluffs that drop to the ocean. Steep staircases provide access to 2,400 feet of ocean beach. For history buffs, there are two concrete bunkers, erected during World War II and once equipped with artillery guns to protect the coast. 900 Montauk Hwy., 631-668-3781, parks.ny.gov/parks/16.

With a wagon full of fishing and beach gear a...

With a wagon full of fishing and beach gear a camper heads from Hither Hills State Park in Montauk to the beach to catch fish and the morning air. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Try Hither Hills State Park, which offers more than a day on a sandy ocean beach. Picnic areas, a playground and a general store round out the facilities. On the eastern boundary of the park are the famous “walking dunes” of Napeague Harbor. For visitors who like to fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves, there is a 189-site campground on the ocean; spaces book up early but call for last minute availability. 164 Old Montauk Hwy., 631-668-2554, parks.ny.gov/parks/122.

Ditch Plains Beach is a popular spot in Montauk for...

Ditch Plains Beach is a popular spot in Montauk for surfing and swimming. It has seasonal lifeguards. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

If you want to surf — or just watch surfers — head to Ditch Plains Beach, on the eastern edge of Montauk Village. Note that parking is by permit only, which is pricey. Better to park in town and hoof it. Or book a surf lesson with a surf school. (coreyswave.com is popular.) Usually a lesson includes board rental and a ride to the beach.

The Montauk Salt Cave, built from nine tons of Himalyan...

The Montauk Salt Cave, built from nine tons of Himalyan salt, offers visitors rest and relaxation. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The owners of the Montauk Salt Cave built this retreat from nine tons of pink Himalayan salt rock, which they say creates an antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory microclimate. Relax in a zero-gravity chair and soak up the salt. Or enjoy yoga, reiki, singing bowls and more in the cave. 552 W. Lake Dr., 631-668-7258, montauksaltcave.com.

Horseback riders from nearby Deep Hollow Ranch make their way...

Horseback riders from nearby Deep Hollow Ranch make their way to the beach.  Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

If you’d like to see Montauk on horseback, head over to Deep Hollow Ranch, where you can take group or private guided trail rides overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound. Hours depend on weather, so call ahead before you go; 8 Old Montauk Hwy.,631-668-2744 or deephollowranch.com.

WHERE TO EAT Brunch, lunch and dinner

Iced coffee is on the menu at Bluestone Lane Coffee, one...

Iced coffee is on the menu at Bluestone Lane Coffee, one of a small chain of Australian-style cafes Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

For breakfast, stop in at Bluestone Lane Coffee, one of a small chain of Australian-style cafes. Bluestone Lane serves flat whites, like a caffe latte, along with a variety of juices, smoothies and “toasties” topped with avocado or banana and honey. New this summer is the Bluestone Lane Beach Collective, where you can pick up a bikini or a pair of sunglasses with your matcha latte. 786 Montauk Hwy, 718-374-6858, bluestonelane.com.

Eat like a surfer at Happy Bowls, where acai berries or dragonfruit are blended with fruit juice, soy milk or coconut water and topped with your choice of granola, coconut flakes, mango, kiwi and a long list of other healthy delights. Design-your-own poké bowls, fresh juices and smoothies will also appeal to superfood fans. 805 Montauk Hwy., happybowls.co. 

 Lobster rolls and fish tacos are on the menu at  Look...

 Lobster rolls and fish tacos are on the menu at  Look to Hooked, a new counter service spot with some picnic tables out front and deep roots in Montauk. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Look to Hooked, a new counter service spot with some picnic tables out front and deep roots in Montauk. Owner Brian Mooney is a 24-year veteran of the iconic Clam Bar in Napeague. Lobster rolls and fish tacos are on the menu, as well as ribs, burgers and fries. Hooked is a good choice for beach picnic fare or for freshly shucked clams on the way home. 34 S. Etna Ave., 631-668-2111, hookedmtk.com.

A Beauty and the Beast sushi roll can be served on...

A Beauty and the Beast sushi roll can be served on a deck overlooking Lake Montauk or in the airy second-story dining room at Inlet Seafood. The restaurant is owned by commercial fishermen. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Owned by a group of commercial fishermen, Inlet Seafood is a good place for lunch or dinner fresh off the boat. Dine on the deck overlooking Lake Montauk or in the airy second-story dining room. Local seafood options include Lake Montauk clams on the half-shell, fluke piccata, and steamed or broiled Montauk lobster. There’s also a sushi bar. 541 E. Lake Dr., 631-668-4272, inletseafood.com.

Stop by The Hideaway, a casual, counter-service place with an indoor dining room, a lively bar and outdoor picnic tables overlooking Montauk Harbor. Owners Skip Reichert, an accomplished pitmaster, prepares St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork and barbecued beef brisket. Co-owner Frieda Reichert, who is from Chiapas, Mexico, oversees a menu including posole, tamales, and tacos. 364 W. Lake Dr., 631-668-6592, thehideawaymontauk.com.

For elevated but unpretentious pub food try The Saltbox for brunch, lunch and dinner in a dining room with nautical touches. The well-priced menu includes classics with a twist: Baja tacos are made with either fish or tofu; the burger has Guinness caramelized onions; the lobster roll features a side of house-made potato chips. 99 Carl Fisher Plaza, 631-238-5727, montauksaltbox.com.

Showfish the new 180-seat seafood-centric restaurant at the new Gurney’s Star Island resort, is sure to be a hot spot this summer and beyond. 32 Star Island Rd., 631-668-3100, gurneysresorts.com/montauk

WHERE TO SHOP Local finds 

Montauk native and professional surfer Quincy Davis debuted a pop-up boutique last summer stocked with her favorite sun hats, beauty products, bikinis and MTK sweatshirts. The store also hosted special events including a flower crown-making workshop taught by a Hawaiian lei maker. Quincy Montauk is back this season, re-stocked and ready for the surf-worshipping hordes. 805 Montauk Hwy., quincythestore.com.

Every beach town needs a one-stop shop for hostess gifts, picnic provisions and rainy day board games. The Montauk General Store, stocked with locally made candles, freshly baked pies and old-fashioned Scrabble, fits the bill. Stop in for some organic free-trade coffee and go home with some new beach chairs and an armful of beaded bracelets. 669 Main St., 631-668-0900

After years at Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie and other big-name brands, designer Kristin Sheeler left the corporate fashion world for The End, where she opened Nibi Montauk pop-up shops (Nibi is Algonquin for “water”) at the former Atlantic Terrace Hotel (now the Marram) then at Sole East, eventually expanding with her own store downtown. She offers maxi dresses, kimonos and swimsuits with understated boho flair. Catering to a wide spectrum of customers is important to her. “I don’t ever want anyone to come in and not be able to find something,” she says of her inventory, which is priced from $25 to $400. This summer she’s launching a men’s collection and will soon be announcing a second stand-alone location in the Hamptons. 88 S. Euclid Ave., 631-483-5139, nibimtk.com

Melet Mercantile is a seasonal vintange emporium. There is a...

Melet Mercantile is a seasonal vintange emporium. There is a shop on Industrial Road and this boutique at the Crow's Nest restaurant. Credit: Randee Daddona

Melet Mercantile Montauk Outpost is an eccentric seasonal vintage emporium  in an industrial park selling clothing, books and décor. The shop is a favorite with set designers, window dressers and the fashion crowd. Melet also has a smaller space at the Crow’s Nest hotel that stocks a curated collection of Melet goods. 102 Industrial Rd., 631-668-9080, meletmercantile.com.

Head to Candied Anchor for saltwater taffy, licorice allsorts, and gummy sharks, as well as old-fashioned candy by the pound. There is ice cream and lemonade, as well as pricey artisanal chocolate bars and boxes of goat milk caramels. For a beach bash, how about an anchor-shaped piñata? 721 Main St., 631-668-8038, candiedanchor.com.

Designer and longtime Montauk resident Cynthia Rowley stocks her beach boutique with swimsuits, rash guards, cover-ups and the occasional custom surfboard. 696 Montauk Hwy., 631-668-8077, cynthiarowley.com.

WHERE TO DRINK Nightlife hot spots

The Montauk Brewing Company on South Erie Avenue. by Aaron...

The Montauk Brewing Company on South Erie Avenue. by Aaron Zebrook For Home Section / Valerie Kellogg -- howater ltc Credit: Aaron Zebrook

For the freshest pours of Summer Ale, Wave Chaser IPA and other brews, visit the tasting room of The Montauk Brewing Co. 62. S. Erie Ave., 631-668-8471, montaukbrewingco.com.

Sloppy Tuna, a summer hot spot in Montauk. 

Sloppy Tuna, a summer hot spot in Montauk.  Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Sloppy Tuna is a Montauk party bar on the beach. The large deck fills up early on sunny days and remains crowded late into the night. Drinks with names like the Chum Bucket and the Deadliest Catch set the tone for rowdy weekend nights that feature DJs and live music. 148 S. Emerson Ave., 631-647-8000, lisloppytuna.com.

The crowds start early at Surf Lodge in Montauk. 

The crowds start early at Surf Lodge in Montauk.  Credit: Aaron Zebrook

Not only is the Surf Lodge a trendy hotel with boho rooms, it also hosts a summer concert series, open to the public and adjacent to the hotel’s bar. 183 Edgemere St., 631-483-5037, thesurflodge.com.

The Backyard Restaurant at Sole East is a chill place to...

The Backyard Restaurant at Sole East is a chill place to hang out in Montauk on the weekends. In addition to a menu with a local and seasonal focus, it serves cocktails. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

The Backyard Restaurant at Sole East is a chill place to hang out on the weekends. In addition to a menu with a local and seasonal focus, it serves cocktails at tables that dot a lush garden and lounges surrounding a sparkling pool. A fire pit and Tiki torches light the space at night. There is live music as well as DJs on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. 90 Second House Rd., 631-668-9739, soleeast.com/restaurant.

The Regent Cocktail Club, in Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa,...

The Regent Cocktail Club, in Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, is the place for craft cocktails and socializing with a sweeping ocean view, indoors and out. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Sink into a leather Chesterfield sofa or velvet club chair at the Regent Cocktail Club for an elegant evening of craft cocktails and socializing with a sweeping ocean view from this Gurney's Resort venue. The pool table is more “Great Gatsby” than “The Hustler.” There’s a fireplace for chilly nights. If it’s warm, move to the adjacent outdoor bar, where couches surround a fire pit and the water is even closer. 290 Old Montauk Hwy., 631-668-2345, regentcocktailclub/montauk.

Lynn's Hula Hut, a waterside Tiki bar, is a popular...

Lynn's Hula Hut, a waterside Tiki bar, is a popular spot for drinks, art, and music. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

This is where arty crowd flocks. Lynn's Hula Hut is a repurposed office trailer in the Montauk Marine Basin that’s been transformed into a waterside Tiki bar, complete with hammocks, lounges and raffia umbrellas. Artists display their works here, and musicians take the stage most days from 4 to 9 p.m. Try some of owner Lynn Calvo’s “hula juice,” naturally infused liquors, while channeling Jimmy Buffett. 426 W. Lake Dr., 303-482-5047, lynnshulahut.net.