Visiting Pirate’s Cove (McAllister’s Park)

Since air travel is temporarily on-hold , I’ve decided to explore more of where I live (Long Island). After a short search for ‘beach hiking trails,’ I found “Pirate’s Cove.” The unique qualities of the cove is what drew me in. The calm, blue cove, the dunes and the ocean all in one location. I knew I had to go check it out!

Before driving an hour to the cove, I did a little research to make sure I’d have access to this little hidden gem. 

Here are a few things I found:

  • “Pirate’s Cove” or The “Cove” (which has nothing to do with pirates), was said to be dug out as part of a big sand and gravel mining operation. Today, you’ll find a small group of boaters, hikers and kayakers enjoying the calm waters.
  • The official name of the Park, where the cove is located, is McAllister’s Park. It seems the land was deeded to Suffolk County by a man named James McAllister in 1971, hence the name of the park.
  • A lot of visitors stressed the lack of parking and the amount of parking tickets they hand out if you park anywhere but the small dirt lot.
  • Even though google maps shows that “Pirate’s Cove” is in Port Jefferson, it’s actually in a small village called, Belle Terre. So when you enter into Belle Terre’s gated entrance, don’t mistaken it for a driveway. I almost thought my navigation was sending me the wrong way.

After deciding I knew enough to visit, I made my way over to the cove. As I approached the entrance to the park (which is on a residential road) I drove down to the infamous, tiny parking lot. The parking lot was full (as I expected) and a safety patrol vehicle was sitting in front of the lot.

The officer told me I could wait in my car for a spot, but I could be ticketed by the Village of Belle Terre, especially if I wasn’t a resident. Being that I drove an hour to get there, I waited… an hour for a spot to open up. I moved my car a few times being sure to look out for any law enforcement coming down the road.

Now that the difficult part of actually getting there and parking was done, I was so excited to finally see the cove! Walking through the dirt lot, I turned the corner and was definitely not disappointed by what I saw. I felt like I wasn’t on Long Island anymore and stumbled onto my own little piece of paradise. Something about the way the dunes and cove met was just fascinating.

View from the top of the dunes (Left: beach / Right: Cove).

I wanted to check out the whole cove and beach side before I decided where I wanted to spend most of my time. I walked directly to the dunes and climbed up. Most of the paths are steep sand hills, so it’s definitely a workout. Once you make it to the top it is 100% worth the views of water in all directions.

I walked/slide down to the beach side, which was pretty much empty and so peaceful. I spent some time at the beach and then made my way back to the cove. I stopped at the top of the dunes again to take in all the views, then just relaxed the rest of the day, taking dips in the cove.

Overall, I highly recommend this little hidden gem. You get to choose between spending your time in the cove, on the top of the dunes, on the beach or hiking higher on the trails. Whatever you decide, you will love it!

The Beach on the other side of the cove.

Tips on visiting:

  • If you go by car, parking is VERY limited and tickets will be given if you park in no parking zones.
  • You can avoid the hassle of parking if you are lucky enough to have access to a boat.
  • Search for ‘McAllister Park’ in your navigation to find the parking lot/entrance.
  • Bring water shoes, it’s very rocky! Or good sneakers if you plan on hiking.
  • There are no facilities so plan accordingly.
  • Don’t just stop at the bottom of the cove, be sure to explore. Climb to the top of the dunes and down to the other side. There’s lots to see!
View of the cove from the top of the dunes.

Random facts about the cove:

  • The cove was apparently dredged in the early 20th century by the Seaboard Dredging Company. 
  • The original name was Seaboard Hole, but it was changed for the sake of appealing to tourists.
  • lists the park’s highest point as being 177 feet above sea level.

Let me know if you plan on visiting or if you have any other questions!

One Piece Bathing Suit is from Amazon


For more photos/videos from my trip, visit my Instagram page!




 *All photos are mine, unless otherwise stated
*Map is from Google Maps

4 responses to “Visiting Pirate’s Cove (McAllister’s Park)”

  1. Thank you for this informative post! I want to bring my kids. Is the beach super rocky? What about swimming in the cove? We don’t have water shoes. Thoughts? Thanks again.


    1. Hello, Glad you found this helpful! I would definitely recommend water shoes. Both sides are rocky but the bay side is slightly less.


  2. Hello, can we go at any time? or is it specific times allowed to go? Thanks


    1. Anytime from my experience!


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