Rocky Neck State Park beaches are something of a rarity among Connecticut
beaches---this long stretch of white sandy beaches features some of the
smoothest sand around. This 710-acre state park in East Lyme is home to diverse
habitat in addition to the stone-free Rocky Neck beaches. A salt marsh and tidal
river that surround the beaches support a wide variety of wildlife and wildlife
watchers. In the early summer, it's quite common to see osprey in large numbers.
When the leaves begin to turn, cranes, mute swans, and herons are frequent visitors.
But in the summer when the days are long and the mercury rises, the beach-goer is the most common visitor.
For those planning to hit the beach in Rocky Neck Park, the sand, sun, and surf are fantastic when the weather is warm. The salty waters of Long Island Sound gently roll onto shore, making swimming fun for all ages. The wide expanse of cool, white sand is a fine place for a stroll or to stretch out a blanket and spend time soaking in some rays.
Several amenities are provided for visitor comfort along the Rocky Neck State Park beaches, including restrooms, changing areas, food concessions, and picnic tables.
The park is also home to a historic pavilion, which is an impressive cobblestone structure sitting on a bluff overlooking the sound and the beaches. Complete with working fireplaces and pillars carved from native wood, the pavilion is a cozy place to visit when the weather is a little chilly. This perch high above the Rocky Neck State Park beaches is available to rent for special events, and park visitors are allowed to visit anytime the park is open.
Swimming is permitted in a designated area off the beach in Rocky Neck Park; lifeguards are on patrol during the summer to keep everyone safe. Fishing and SCUBA diving are permitted away from this area. Anglers need to purchase a fishing license, and divers need to present a certification card to park staff and use official diving flag.
A wheelchair-accessible fishing pier crosses Bride Brook and is a short walk from the beach in Rocky Neck Park. The saltwater of Long Island Sound supports a variety of marine species, including horseshoe crabs, blackfish, flounder, mackerel, and striped bass.
Like Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Rocky Neck State Park welcomes campers in the summer. The 160-site campground can accommodate tent camping as well as RVs. The different sections of the site are named after the birds frequently spotted at the park. It's an easy walk to the Rocky Neck beaches along the bike path, regular road, or the interesting nature trail.
Rocky Neck beaches and other parts of the park are accessible from 8 a.m. until sunset. After dark, campers can enter the park until 10 p.m. Entry fees vary according to the day of the week and the time of the year. From Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day, it costs a bit less to visit during the week, rather than holidays or weekends. The reduced rate is in effect for several weekends leading up to the holiday and for the rest of September. Season passes can be purchased as well, providing substantial savings for frequent visitors and entry to all the parks, including the beaches of Silver Sands State Park in Milford.