The Coast at a Click: New Website Offers Beach Bums a Boatload of Information

Published on 7/15/2004

Looking for a beach with supervised swimming and a picnic area? How about a coastal destination with intertidal flats and a boat launch? Thanks to a new website launched last month by the Department of Environmental Protection, families looking for daytrip destinations tailored to their special needs or preferences can let their fingers do the walking.

Connecticut families and visitors looking for summer fun on the Connecticut shore have a new resource this summer in the Connecticut Coastal Access Guide website, an online searchable database recently completed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). 

From Greenwich to Stonington, Connecticut towns offer both residents and vacationers myriad shore activities at sites open to the public. Two years in the making, the new Connecticut Coastal Access Guide website improves upon the DEP's first effort to educate the public about coastal sites, the Connecticut Coastal Access Map, first issued in 1999.

Now in an online format, the new Access Guide adds to the information initially provided by the map, giving prospective day-trippers a free, interactive, and accessible guide to these sites.

In addition to pertinent information regarding the state's boating, birding, camping, swimming, and fishing hotspots, the online guide also offers details about sites' handicapped accessibility and picnic, concession, and boat ramp facilities. 

Perhaps most beneficial, however, the site offers potential coastal site visitors the opportunity to search for beaching and boating spots not only by town or site name, but by a site's facilities, activities, or environmental setting. With the aid of the guide's detailed search options, you can select a destination using a wide variety of criteria, ranging from just about every possible offering from camping facilities to shellfishing opportunities and beyond.  

According to the site, 33 Connecticut towns, including East Haven, offer visitors 84.5 miles of sandy beach, with more than 275 coastal access sites open to the public. From overlook points to swimming spots, from piers to nature centers, the Coastal Access Guide covers a lot of ground--or water, as the case may be--as it lists sites that will appeal and cater to every demographic and special interest.

In East Haven, the site lists East Haven Town Beach, Kelsey Landing, the Shoreline Trolley Museum, and Whalers Point as publicly accessible coastal sites.

In addition to its detailed searchable database, the Coastal Access Guide offers photographs, colorful visuals, and driving maps for each listed site.

"There's nothing quite like it anywhere else in the country, even in other coastal areas," said David Kosak, senior coastal planner at the DEP, who indicated that the site's comprehensive approach offers the public an updated, accurate, and timely way to research coastal sites.

Thus far, he said, the site has received positive feedback.

Ultimately, the goal of the guide is to encourage the public to visit Connecticut's many shoreline sites and to "address the common perception that these areas are inaccessible unless you won property [on them]," Kosak said. "There are almost 300 sites--that's many more sites than the handful of State parks that people know about," he said.

In addition to providing information about coastal sites, the Guide also discusses the Connecticut shore as "The People's Resource"--a designation that illuminates the DEP's interest in making coastal site information easily accessible by the public.

Not only are the Long Island Sound and its Connecticut beaches, docks, and harbors a cultural and environmental part of Connecticut, the site explains, but coastal sites are also legally held in public trust for the shared use and benefit of the public.

"Responsibly enjoy your public trust right to access Connecticut's shore," the site says.

Visitors are encouraged to use "good manners and common sense" when using Connecticut's public coastal sites, and are expected to refrain from littering, disturbing dune or tidal wetland vegetation, and trespassing on private property. 

To learn more about the DEP's new website, or to search for your own next trip to the shore, visit



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