I stand on some mighty eagle’s beak, Eastward the sea absorbing, viewing, (Nothing but sea and sky)
The tossing waves, the foam, the ships in the distance
The wild unrest, the snowy, curling caps—that inbound urge and urge of waves,
Seeking the shore forever.
— Walt Whitman, “Montauk Point”
From Amagansett  to Montauk is a drive of only about 10 miles, but the landscape changes dramatically along the way. Near Amagansett, the South Fork  still feels like a well-tended region of small towns and farms; near Montauk, the terrain becomes windswept, barren, and wild. Despite all the tourists who flock here in summer, Montauk basically remains an isolated fishing village surrounded by dunes and sandy beach. Commercial deep-sea fishing is big business here.
Montauk proper centers on a circular green with a weathered gazebo. On one side of the green, known as the Village Plaza, is White’s (631/668-2994), a creaky old variety store where you can buy everything from postcards and sunglasses to small appliances and 14-carat-gold jewelry.
The Montauk Chamber of Commerce (Main St., at the Village Plaza, 631/668-2428, www.montaukchamber.com , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat.–Sun.) is well stocked with brochures and maps. Parking is usually available in the lots along Main Street or on side streets.
North of Montauk proper is Montauk Harbor, always teeming with fishing and pleasure craft. The drive to the Harbor passes cornflower-blue Lake Montauk, while the harbor itself is home to a number of restaurants. Every June, the harbor hosts the festive Blessing of the Fleet, in which hundreds of boats receive prayers for a safe season.
Montauk comes as a welcome respite after the heady, moneyed land of the Hamptons . Though it, too, now has its share of trendy hot spots, Montauk’s main attraction remains the sea and shore.
The two-lane Montauk Highway is the only road that runs all the way from Southampton  to Montauk. During the summer and on weekends, it often gets unbearably congested, but there is no alternative route.
In addition to Montauk’s beaches and parks ,The nation’s oldest cattle ranch, established in 1658, is Deep Hollow Ranch (Montauk Hwy. three miles east of village center, 631/668-2744, www.deephollowranch.com ). Today a center for horseback riding, the ranch offers guided trail rides through 4,000 acres of parklands, pastures, and beach, along with pony rides, family barbecues, and riding lessons. Rates for the standard 1.5-hour beach and trail ride is $65.
Sportfishing (www.montauksportfishing.com ) is one of Montauk’s major attractions. “Party boats” take out large groups of anglers daily. To sign on, call Lazybones in Montauk (631/668-5671), Viking Fishing Fleet (631/668-5700, www.vikingfleet.com ), or Marlin V (631/668-2818). The Viking Fishing Fleet also offers whale-watching cruises departing from the Montauk Harbor in July and August.