We have been visiting the Hamptons for the last 7 summers. Our stays have lasted for a few days to a couple of months. We owned a home on Cape Cod for 21 years but have been summering there for our whole lives together and separately. When we sold our home in Mashpee 4 years ago to travel and spend more time in the Hamptons, we have been asked ever since how the areas compare.
While driving to the ferry in New London on our way to the Hamptons, Christine and I talked over the pluses and minuses of both locations. Keep in mind that for the purpose of this post we are only talking about the Cape and not Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. For the Hamptons, we are talking about east of West Hampton and out to Montauk.
We love both places but nowadays we favor the Hamptons and here’s why.
The Hamptons’ restaurants crush the Cape. This is despite the fact that our favorite restaurant in both places is Osteria La Civetta in Falmouth on Cape Cod. It is an authentic Emilia Romagna spot (the breadbasket of Italy) that never disappoints. The Crow’s Nest in Montauk is also very good and its location on the sea is primo! That’s another thing that we have noticed, the restaurants on the water in the Hamptons don’t squander the opportunity to offer great food too. Cape restaurants on the water, in general, serve a very simple, predictable fare. (the bottom of this post you will find restaurant links to places that we really enjoy in both places) Winner: Hamptons
Sunset at Montauk’s Surf Lodge
Both places having amazing beaches but there are some discernible differences. The Hamptons’ beaches (both private and public) seem quieter. The beach sand in the Hamptons is softer with smaller grains. Both places have full exposure to the Atlantic but also offer quiet coves, inlets and bays. The Cape Cod National Seashore and its dunes is one of the country’s most majestic waterfronts and nothing compares to it in the Hamptons. The caveat is sharks are abundant on the long armed beach of the Cape. The Hamptons have less seaweed exposure than the beaches on the Cape but this is a recently developing problem that may eventually impact the Hamptons too.
Net Net, this category has two winners.
COMMUTE FROM BOSTON
There is a hands down winner here. The drive From our home in Boston to our old home in Mashpee was an easy 90 minute drive. To visit the Hamptons it takes us 5 1/2 hours. With its 3 ferry rides, there’s no such thing as a weekend jaunt to the Hamptons.
Winner: Cape Cod
Generalization alert!!!! The Hamptons gives off an aura of new money compared to the Cape’s dusty money. For that reason visitors to the Hamptons tend to be more cliquish in spots, more poseurs and as a result it’s fascinating social science. Montauk’s crazy party scene has inundated the once sleepy artist and fishing community. The Cape is definitely is quieter though you can always find a party somewhere in Hyannis or Yarmouth where it’s a much younger clientele. Personally, I like the choices the Hamptons afford and not to mention, I am a social scientist! Winner: Hamptons
The golf in the Hamptons is absolutely incredible with magnificent courses like Shinnecock, National Golf Links of America, Maidstone, Sebonack, and the Bridge Golf Club to name just a handful. However, if you are not a member at any of these places, you’re relegated to a six hour round at Montauk Downs or Sag Harbor, the only two public courses in the Hamptons. On the Cape, there are several terrific public courses that are accessible. I like Quashnet Valley, Cranberry Valley, The Captains Course, Bass River, and Olde Barnstable. If you’re a member of one of the Hamptons’ premier clubs, my hat is off to you but for choices: Winner: Cape Cod
Maidstone the Magnificent
The intangibles like shopping, specialty food stores, and art & culture are hard to beat in the Hamptons. New money gets spent and that crowd is catered to whereas the dusty money on the Cape is dusty because it stays in the pocket! Some would view the Hamptons as ostentatious because of the conspicuous spending that takes place there but for us, it offers the choices that the Cape just doesn’t provide. Winner: Hamptons
It’s not quite as simple as a New Yorkers vs. Bostonians discussion but certainly that is an important element of the story. The Hamptons is mostly NYC area driven while the Cape visitors are from the Boston area footprint. I love both places but for us, it was time for a change. Hamptons for the win.
Cape Cod Restaurants
Cape Cod Golf