Scouting Democrat Point
Here’s the thing about Democrat Point. Even though it’s super close to New York, it’s really, really hard to get to. How hard? It's taken me three years to get there. So, if you want to go next summer (sorry this year is already out of the cards), you’ll have to start planning now.
Why is it so hard to get there? Democrat Point is only 50 miles from Manhattan and it’s not that there's particularly rough terrain or unmarked roads, or any physical obstacles that make it difficult to get to, it’s that the state of New York intentionally makes it difficult to access, requiring you to jump through a ton of permitting hoops, likely, to limit usage. If that’s the case, I don’t blame them. If everyone with a truck in the five boroughs had free reign, Democrat Point, which sits on the far west end of Robert Moses State Park, would quickly turn into one big sandy parking lot. It would be a total mess, not to mention the environmental impacts.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t go. You very much can, you just have to be organized, which luckily most people are not. Here’s the deal:
If you want to go, start planning months in advance, or be prepared to walk really, really far. Without a 4x4 permit, you can walk out to Democrat Point after parking in one of the Robert Moses parking lots. People do this and it’s not terrible, but definitely not ideal.
To get an off-road 4x4 permit for the summer, you’ll have to do some planning. They’re only on sale January 1st through March 31st, and not online. You’ll have to head out to your nearest ranger station (don’t forget your up-to-date license and registration) and grab one in person.
Then...you’ll be able to legally drive out to Democrat Point, but you’ll have to make sure you have a long list of supplies that includes a shovel, a jack, jack planks, an air compressor, come-along straps and a toilet. Also, if you want to use the park between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you’ll have to enter before 7am or after 5pm.
Yeah, like I said, the state doesn’t make it easy, but that’s probably a good thing.
Once you air down your tires and get out there though, you'll realize it was all worth it. Expect to see a lot of fishermen. There’s a whole group of them with jacked up trucks with campers on top who park themselves on the beach and hang out all day. Then there's surfing crowd too, which obviously comes up with the waves.
Though it’s crowded, there is plenty of space and room to set up your own private zone. When wheeling around Democrat Point it definitely feels like you've left New York, or at least anywhere close to NYC. It's rugged and open and I dare say, in the right light typical of late August, it even feels a bit like California, or at least the far east end of Long Island.
The surf break out there is a beautiful left that wraps around the point. It’s got to be the closest point break to the city on Long Island. It’s fast and it’s long, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Permit rules state that you have to have a pole for each person, or a surfboard for each person, if you’re on a surfing permit, as I was. Also, there’s no alcohol allowed in the park and you should be prepared for rangers to check your permit at anytime. And for chrissakes, don’t be an asshole, pack out your garbage.