Orient, originally named Poquatuck, after the Native American tribe that resided in the area, is located at the easternmost tip of the North Fork of Long Island. It is surrounded by the Long Island Sound on the North and Gardiners Bay on the South. With the arrival of English settlers in 1661, the area was called Oysterponds after the plentiful shellfish in the sea. Orient became Oysterponds Lower Neck while East Marion became Oysterponds Upper Neck. In 1836, Oysterponds Upper Neck was renamed East Marion, after a Revolutionary War General and Oysterponds Lower Neck was renamed Orient, for its most easterly location on the North Fork.
Orient Point, at the end of the North Fork, is a major hub of transportation to and from New London, Connecticut by the Cross Sound Ferry. When taking the ferry you can catch a glimpse of Orient Point (Coffee Pot) Lighthouse, on the rocks just east of Orient Point and west of Plum Island. It was originally built in 1899, restored in 1973 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Relax at 363-acre Orient Beach State Park, whose rare maritime forest was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1980 for its natural beauty. Enjoy the marine wildlife, the saltwater marsh, or go swimming, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding in the sparkling water off this quiet beach. Long Beach Bar (Bug Light) Lighthouse is off the western tip of the park, between Orient Harbor and Gardiners Bay. Originally built in 1871, it was burned by vandals in 1963, and beautifully restored in 1990.
The Orient Historic District, located in the hamlet of Orient, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It includes over one hundred residences and buildings built between the late 18th and late 19th century. Walk down Village Lane where you’ll find a post office, general store, and a quaint ice cream parlor, all from a bygone era. Visit Oysterponds Historical Society founded in 1944 and learn about Native American artifacts and the history of the early settlers dating back three centuries.
Wine and dine at superb Orient By The Sea Restaurant & Marina, family-owned since 1979 by Bob Haase. Here you can savor the fresh local Oysterponds oysters, delicious local clams and Orient Point fisherman’s catch of the day, while overlooking beautiful Gardiner’s Bay. Stay at the charming Orient Inn located on Main Road in Orient, the North Fork’s premiere Bed & Breakfast. Take a day trip and go cycling through the area while enjoying the beautiful vistas. Orient is a nature and bird lover’s delight with its bucolic scenery and abundant wildlife, including ospreys, herons, egrets, and deer.
Be sure to stop by one of the local farmstands while you’re in the area. Latham Farms, established about 1642 is one of the oldest and largest family-run farms on Long Island, now run by Daniel Terry Latham. Latham’s Farmstand, on Main Road in Orient, is open seven days a week until Thanksgiving. They also have local Orient Oysterponds oysters. Oysterponds Farm, a small family farm on Main Road is owned by the Apostle and Stevenson families. The farmstand is open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday through October 31. Sep’s Farmstand, a local favorite owned by the Sepenoski family, whose farm dates back to the early 1900’s, is on Route 25 in nearby East Marion and is open seven days a week until Thanksgiving. They carry a large variety of local produce, fresh cut flowers and delicious homemade baked goods.
Suzanne Hahn, founder of Hahn Realty in Greenport (now Brown Harris Stevens) together with her husband, fell in love with Orient in 1982 and built their dream home in the historic estate enclave known as “Orient Hill,” overlooking the spectacular Sound. Suzanne says coming home over the causeway to Orient is like “going back in time to a magical, historic land.” She describes Orient as “a unique, wonderful community” and as “pure Americana” where people still care about each other and their local community.
As for the real estate market, Suzanne reflects that, “Orient has retained its value on the North Fork, as inventory has always been low, with so much preserved land.” Both year-round and second homeowners come to Orient to experience the peaceful lifestyle, beauty, nature, and history of the area.
Known for its great fishing, picturesque views overlooking the Sound, gorgeous beaches with magnificent sunsets, and quiet lifestyle in the heart of wine country, Orient has become one of the prime destinations on the North Fork of Long Island, both for vacationing and year-round living. Take a trip out east to the tip of the North Fork this fall and you may discover your dream home in Orient by the Sound or the Bay.
Ruth Thomas, a freelance writer on the East End enjoys history, music, literature, art, nature, the beach, and her cute dachshund, Clancy. She can be contacted at [email protected]