Milford might have Connecticut’s longest coastline, but its neighbor, West Haven, has a waterfront distinction of its own: it’s home to “the longest stretch of publicly accessible shoreline” in the state, as the city puts it; in other words, West Haven has nearly four miles of beach, or 25% of the public beaches in Connecticut.
Stretching along Long Island Sound from the Milford town line to Sandy Point Beach and Bird Sanctuary near New Haven, West Haven’s beaches are technically divided into sections with different names and parking areas. But it can be hard to tell where one section ends and the next begins, so it’s easier to think of the whole thing as one long beach with many access points.
During the summer season, there are entry fees and parking restrictions. In the off-season, however, when the crowds are gone and the parking lots are empty, the natural beauty of the shore is revealed. Here are some of the best spots to experience West Haven’s impressive – and often overlooked – coast.
Bradley Point Park & Savin Rock Park
Bradley Point, a serene spot with trees and benches, juts out above the water. Trails lead to the point from Bradley Point Park, on Captain Thomas Boulevard, which is linked by the Savin Rock Trail to the adjacent Savin Rock Park and Oak Street Beach. It sounds confusing, but it’s not: just walk or bike along this two-mile paved pathway and you’ll find jetties, piers, a gazebo, and plenty of places to access the sandy beach below. This is the most developed stretch of West Haven’s waterfront, where you’ll find the Savin Rock Museum, open seasonally, which chronicles the area’s past life as a resort and amusement park, and Jimmies of Savin Rock, a historic waterfront restaurant, that’s open year-round.
Sea Bluff Beach is located on Ocean Avenue. Just west of the Savin Rock Trail, it is not built up like the beaches immediately to its east. It’s simply an unspoiled expanse of gently curving coastline, and a quiet place to stroll where the sand meets the water. (It’s also home to the Charlotte Bacon Playground.)
Hidden behind a cluster of drab-looking buildings on Captain Thomas Boulevard is the green rectangle of Old Grove Park. Behind that you’ll find the Altschuler Plaza parking area and Altschuler Beach. This section of waterfront is dotted with piers and jetties, and is located at the eastern end of the Savin Rock Trail.
You can access West Haven’s beaches from many points along Ocean Avenue, Captain Thomas Boulevard, and Beach Street, the roads that run parallel to the shore.
If you’re visiting during the summer, check with the City of West Haven for current beach fees and parking information.