Beaches -- Hamptons beaches are world-class for a reason: Not only are the grains of gold perfectly maintained, but they also stretch on forever. Unlike some beaches that are interrupted by cliffs or rocks, these sandy stretches allow you to walk for hours, just getting lost in the grandness of the ocean -- and if you look to the other side, the grandness of the homes. There's only one problem when it comes to enjoying these beaches: parking. Walk, ride a bike, take a taxi -- do anything but drive to the beach. Nonresident parking permit fees run up to $350 and daily parking fees can be $40 -- if a spot's even available.

Your best option? Stay at a hotel that has beach rights. Hotels like Gurney's Inn are right on the water, so you'll have no problems. Some off-beach places like the Southampton Inn will shuttle you to the water for free.

So where do you go? In Southampton, Cooper's Beach is the main public beach; it's beautifully maintained and you'll find a concession stand; but it can get crowded, and parking costs as much as $40. Old Town Beach is much less crowded and there's no parking permit required; but it has only 30 spaces, so get there early. Main Beach in East Hampton is gorgeous and in view of some giant mansions. A weekday parking pass is $20, but there are no nonresident parking permits on weekends. Westhampton Beach Village has some of the best beaches on Long Island, but forget about parking -- even walking onto the beach requires a permit (call tel. 631/288-1654).

If you want to tote your lunch along, pick up sandwiches to go at Hampton Bagels; there's one in East Hampton, 74 N. Main (tel. 631/324-5411), and another in Hampton Bays, 252 W. Montauk Hwy. (tel. 631/728-7893). For something fancier, check out the staggering cheese selection at Cavaniola's Gourmet, 89B Division St., Sag Harbor (tel. 631/725-0095) or the huge salad bar at Schmidt's Market, 120 N. Sea Rd., Southampton (tel. 631/283-5777).

Biking -- Biking to the beach is a great idea in the land of parking-permit hell. Rent one at Bermuda Bikes, 36 Gingerbread Lane, East Hampton tel. 631/324-6688), starting at $25 for a 7-hour day. The folks at Montauk Bike Shop, 725A Montauk Hwy., Montauk tel. 631/668-8975), are full of information about some terrific trails in the area, including Hither Hills and Camp Hero state parks. Luckily, they also rent bikes, starting at $10 an hour.

Boating -- Go exploring on the water by kayak. Mill Creek Kayaks, 3253 Noyac Rd., Sag Harbor (tel. 631/725-4712), will take you out for lessons ($30 per hr.) or rent you a kayak ($16-$20 per hr.). It also offers a wetlands wildlife tour and a children's tour ($45). Open May to October.

Fishing -- Montauk is renowned as one of the nation's best places for surf-casting. Start working out now: 40- and 50-pound bass migrate through these waters in the fall, and gigantic bass and stripers can be caught in the summer as well. Go with Viking Fleet, Montauk Harbor (tel. 631/668-5700); a half-day's fishing is $45. Six hours of night fishing -- a very cool experience -- goes for $85.

Golf -- Montauk Downs, on Fairview Avenue east of Montauk (tel. 631/668-5000), has a beautiful course. For New York State residents, it's $41 to $46 for 18 holes. A great value course is the 9-hole Sag Harbor State Golf Course, off Route 114 between East Hampton and Sag Harbor (tel. 631/725-2503). It's just $16 on weekdays, $24 on weekends. The famed Shinnecock Hills, 200 Tuckahoe Rd., Southampton, was home to the U.S. Open in 2004; but it's a private course, so you'll have to make friends with a member to play here.

Hiking -- Shadmoor State Park, east of Montauk (tel. 631/668-3781 or 631/668-5000), has 99 open acres of rugged and hilly terrain, where you can hike on trails leading to high bluffs with magnificent ocean views. Bring your binoculars for bird-watching.

Spas -- An ocean of spa treatments are available at Gurney's Seawater Spa, 290 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk (tel. 631/668-2345). If you're up for a splurge, go for the $220 90-minute Marine Kur therapy, which includes exfoliation, a seaweed wrap, and a hydrotherapy massage (in a tub of heated seawater!). Or, pay $30 for access to the huge indoor heated seawater pool, steam room, and the Roman baths.

Surfing -- Go to Montauk. Just below the Lighthouse, you'll find some of the biggest waves on Long Island -- along with the boarders who come out here to catch them. The currents are very tricky where the ocean meets the sound, but experienced riders will have a blast. Ditch Plains, as you may already know, is the most popular spot on the East End for longboarders and paddle surfers. Pick up your supplies at Plaza Surf & Sports, 716 Main St., Montauk (tel. 631/668-9300).

U-Pick Farms -- Have fun picking your own fruit. Hank Kraszewski Farms has a couple of outlets: For strawberries, head out to Route 39, Southampton Bypass, Southampton (tel. 631/726-4667), and for pumpkins, take Route 27, to Water Mill (same number).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.