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Here’s all your questions answered on the town beaches in Southold and Riverhead. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

Who can get a beach pass on the North Fork? Which beaches am I allowed to use? What if I’m renting? Can I bring my dog? With local officials tightening the rules around beach usage — in response to both COVID safety concerns and beach overcrowding — locals and visitors alike have more questions than ever in 2021. 

We talked to Raymond Coyne, Parks and Recreation Superintendent from the Town of Riverhead, and Scott Russell, Southold Town Supervisor, to get all the answers. 

Not sure which set of rules to follow? Reminder that Riverhead town includes the hamlets of Aquebogue, Baiting Hollow, Calverton, Jamesport, Laurel, Manorville, Northville, Riverhead and Wading River. Southold town comprises Cutchogue, East Marion, Greenport, Laurel, Mattituck, New Suffolk, Orient, Peconic and Southold.

Where and how can I get a beach parking pass? How much is it?

Riverhead: Single-day parking and nonresidential seasonal parking passes have been eliminated, so beach parking passes are for residents only. Residents may obtain one at the Parks Office (55 Columbus Ave., Riverhead), Recreation Office (60 Shade Tree Lane, Riverhead) or online at A parking pass is $20 for residents and $5 for seniors. A boat launch plus a parking pass (called a silver pass) is $40 for residents and $10 for seniors. A 4×4 access sticker, which gives access to drive on certain beaches, plus a parking pass (called a gold pass) is $84 for residents and $65 for seniors. To get everything — parking, boat launch and 4×4 access — is $100 for residents and $70 for seniors (called a platinum pass). A driver’s license and registration are needed for the parking pass, plus insurance for a 4×4 pass.

Southold:  Get your beach pass at the town clerk’s office at 53095 Main Rd, Southold, by mail, or online at A vehicle registration and driver’s license are needed to purchase the $10 pass. If your address doesn’t match your license or registration, as may be the case for second homeowners, bring your deed or tax bill. As in Riverhead, beach parking permits are for residents only and single-day permits are no longer offered at any town beach.

Walking to the beach? In a new rule for 2021, you will be required to carry a proof of residency with you for all Southold town beaches. Beach attendants and traffic control officers will be patrolling the town beaches to make sure all beach goers are residents. Acceptable forms of residency will include a driver’s license or car registration, lease or deed, tax or utility bill as well as a student ID.

McCabes Beach Southold
McCabe’s Beach, Southold (Northforker file photo)

What if I am renting a place? 

Riverhead: Renters can purchase parking passes with proof that they reside within the town through a lease agreement or contract. 

Southold: Renters, both long and short term (14 days is the minimum rental allowed in the town of Southold), can purchase lessee permits with a lease and vehicle registration. 

Can I go to the beach if I am visiting someone on the North Fork?

Guest parking passes are available to those visiting someone on the North Fork by going to the Town Clerk’s office in Southold. The resident and guest should go together, or a resident may obtain a pass alone with a notarized affidavit affirming the person is their guest.

Orient Beach State Park is open (but not free) for nonresidents. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

Which beaches are covered by a town beach parking pass? 

Riverhead: In Riverhead town, your beach pass gets you into Wading River Beach in Baiting Hollow, Reeves Beach in Baiting Hollow, Iron Pier Beach in South Jamesport plus South Jamesport Beach.

Southold: A beach pass for residents includes access to Goose Creek in Southold, Goldsmith Inlet in Peconic, Gull Pond in Greenport, Kenney’s Beach in Southold, McCabe’s Beach in Southold, New Suffolk Beach and Town Beach in Southold. A separate pass is needed for certain beaches that fall within the park districts of Mattituck, Cutchogue-New Suffolk, Southold or Orient-East Marion. These are typically available only to tax-paying residents of the park district.

Are there any beaches open to non-residents? 

Riverhead: Hallock State Park Preserve and  Wildwood State Park are open to all vehicles for $8 to $10 a day, depending on the time of summer.

Southold: Orient Beach State Park is open to all vehicles for $10 a day.

Will a parking pass from last year be honored?

Riverhead: No, a new pass is needed for 2021.

Southold: Permits purchased last year for 2020-2021 are still valid.

Is there a limit of passes per household?

Riverhead: There is no limit per household, as the parking passes are linked to individual cars, one per eligible car. 

Southold: There is no limit per household, as the parking passes are linked to individual cars, one per eligible car. 

Are dogs allowed?

Riverhead: No dogs are allowed.

Southold: Leashed dogs are allowed.