By Kristan Schiller
For many, Montauk conjures images of lock-jawed Gatsby types perched daintily on grand porches, nursing mint juleps and chatting about the weather. For me, after a long weekend at a friend’s wedding here, Montauk will forever be a casually hip hamlet where friends feel at home and life revolves around the water.
I arrived on a Friday after a leisurely jaunt from Manhattan on the Hampton Jitney (one way from $30) – the Jitney’s wifi service and complimentary bottled water as well as no cell phone rule makes for a relaxing ride. Once the nuptials had passed (replete with an electric Tessla which whisked the bride and groom to the reception in style), the evening began at the Montauk Yacht Club. With its unpretentious service and unobstructed views of Lake Montauk, the place was the ideal spot for a great party. Fully-renovated for its 80th birthday last summer, MYC is in top-form with private balconies jutting from navy-and-white stripe bedrooms. The working lighthouse was fun for a daytime visit with friends while the new cognac-cigar hang became the favored spot for a gaggle of guys in from London who kept the bar open til dawn.
On Saturday, I navigated my way over to Montauk resident Cynthia Rowley’s bikini boutique, located next door to the Memory Motel. Distinguishable only by a blue neon “shop” sign in the window, the 800-square foot bungalow-style space carries an array of Rowley-designed bikinis, handbags and shoes as well as customized Meyerhoffer surfboards and Rowley’s own Moroccan fragrances. All very low-key – as the locals like it.
After my mini-shopping spree, my friend Toby and I rented bikes at the Montauk Bike Shop for about $40/day and tootled around the crowd-free streets of town before heading to our friend’s wedding lunch at the beach on Old Montauk Highway, across from The Beachcomber Hotel (several friends stayed at the Beachcomber. The verdict: dated but clean rooms, worth it for the superb location!) We lazily consumed lobster, barbecued chicken and cole slaw on white picnic tables and chairs set up along the most gloriously-preserved stretch of beach. Some surfed, some swam, and some ran with their canines and kids along the shore. The heavy undertow kept me from venturing too far in but a beachside stroll through the brisk water refreshed my tired feet after the previous night’s dancing.
Saturday evening my Brit friends wanted pizza so we took the “Surf Taxi” ($10 flat fare, 631-668-2777) to Pizza Village and enjoyed a feast of Barq’s root beer, house salad, and the pizzeria’s classic plain pie with its unique thin sesame crust. This spot looked almost identical to the pizza place featured in the old 80’s film Mystic Pizza, replete with the same colorful locals and friendly waitresses. From here we booked the now trusty surf taxi to the vibey Surf Lodge, an airy hotel with an outdoor fire pit near a deck overlooking Fort Pond. The place is known for its social atmosphere, Sunday-night surf movies and summer concert series but as it was turning fall, we simply lounged on the breezy open-air deck and sipped mojitos til we were too tired to talk. It was the end of our weekend on “The End,” as locals call it, and time to leave our casual waterside enclave to head back to our various corners of the world.
Photos: Lighthouse provided by the Montauk Yacht Club; sunset table provided by the Surf Lodge.