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Hemstead Harbour

Glen Clove

Sea Cliff

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Sea Cliff Offers a Delightful Destination and Unparalleled Views Across the Sound

View from the park at the edge of Sea Cliff looking toward Westchester County. The park punctuates the end of Sea Cliff Avenue, the picturesque main street in town.

The town of Sea Cliff rises high above Hempstead Harbor opening up spectacular vistas across the Sound.

View the Sea Cliff photo gallery by clicking here. All photos property of Alex and Daria Blackwell.

As we exited Glen Cove accompanied by a pair of swans, we turned left along the beach until we reached Sea Cliff Yacht Club (516-671-7374), host to the 2006 Opti Championships, with its delightful bay front setting of restaurant, pool and beach. As members of a reciprocal yacht club, we were authorized to tie up to an SCYC mooring.  The launch driver picked us up and delivered us just about 30 feet to the dock. Founded in 1892, SCYC is also the host club for the awards ceremony following the Around Long Island Regatta.

The quaint village of Sea Cliff has about 5000 residents in one square mile of territory, with about 100 preserved Victorian gems. To view a gallery of additional photos, please click here.

Directly behind (or in front of if you’re on the street) the front door of SCYC is the stairway to Sea Cliff the town.  Built in 1914 and recently restored, It’s a delightfully maintained vertical park that scales the cliffs to the picturesque view of the Sound from the top.  It’s a bit of a hike up the stairs but not a problem if you’re relatively fit.  Along the stairs there are attractive plantings with varieties of hostas, hydrangeas, azaleas and shrubs artfully arranged and beautifully maintained with the occasional bench at strategic resting points.

At the top of the stairs, turn right along the road that twists gently up the hill.  Pass all the streets that head off at angles to the left with “do not enter” signs on them and enjoy the lovely homes and gardens along the way.  At the top of the hill, you get to Sea Cliff Avenue.  On the right is a lovely little park with park benches where you can catch your breath while the view takes it away again.  On a beautiful clear day you can see forever across the Sound. Although the vegetation is getting a bit tall to see up and down the Sound, it’s still pretty spectacular. It was really fun to see a small regatta fleet using our boat as a mark way down on Hempstead Harbor.  We could have been in the islands looking down at the lovely isolated harbor for all you could tell.

What to do

Directly across the street from the park is the main street in the town of Sea Cliff. This town, which encompasses about one square mile, boasts about 100 Victorian homes or 'painted ladies' as they are affectionately known. The town's history is well represented in the village museum, and there you can also buy one of the books written about the architectural gems of the village. There are also several pamphlets available that will take you on a walking tour of the fine homes.

Sea Cliff seems to be changing rapidly since the arrival of Sotheby’s Real Estate and several other upscale businesses. It’s a charming village with just a few streets of tiny shops, most of which said they were open but many of which had their doors locked on this fine but very hot late Saturday afternoon.  Though within the stated opening hours, the museum was closed as was the antique shop.  Oh well, that sent us in search of a pint of refreshment!

Several of the restaurants were prepping for dinner, one of which, Tupelo Honey, had a delightful private party going with reggae music and people laughing and dancing.  It reminded me of the Van Morrison tune by the same name. A review in the New York Times several years ago tells the score well. The tables were all gaily decorated in bright primary colors of mosaic glass and shards of broken pottery.  The tables are closely packed inside a porticoed glass front, the bar offers comfortable seating perpendicular to the kitchen entrance and grill, also gaily decorated and lit. 

From Van Morrison - Tupelo Honey

You can take all the tea in china
Put it in a big brown bag for me
Sail right around the seven oceans
Drop it straight into the deep blue sea
She's as sweet as tupelo honey
She's an angel of the first degree
She's as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee

A second restaurant called Once Upon a Moose was closed between the lunch and dinner seatings but looked delightful as well.  Partners was undergoing renovation. Never fear, Gallagher’s Pub was open, had not changed a bit in the years since we last visited (except for the flat screen TV), and the friendly pint was delivered speedily in frosty glasses!  Boy did that taste good on this very hot day in August.  They also serve down home cooking in a friendly casual atmosphere in the adjoining room, as well as Monday night 30-cent wings and $2 beers.

After this refreshment, we serpentined our way back down the hill, and climbed the stairway back down to the waterfront.  We noticed the beach with tons of kayaks just beside the SCYC and wondered if this was a public access site.  (We have subsequently learned that access and boat storage is by permit.)  SCYC were quite hospitable and took us back out to our dinghy on a mooring.  A fine visit to a hidden LIS charm it was.

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