Gilgo Beach is located on the barrier island Jones Beach Island, which separates the Great South Bay of Long Island from the Atlantic Ocean. Gilgo Beach runs adjacent to Ocean Parkway, off of Wantagh Parkway and Robert Moses Parkway, and is located in the Town of Babylon in Suffolk County, New York. The census groups Gilgo with Captree and Oak Beach. Adjacent beaches include Cedar Beach, Tobay Beach, and Hemlocks Beach. Gilgo Beach is 3.7 square miles and 7 miles of ocean.
Originally, Gilgo Beach was mostly a community of residents seeking summer homes. Over the years it has been populated year-round and visited during the wintertime. The population is 97% Caucasian, but is a diverse mixture of full-time and second-home residents.
According to the 2000 census, Gilgo Beach had a population of over three hundred people, about half of which were families. Although the residences are privately-owned, the property of the land is leased to residents by the state of New York. If the state chooses not to renew the lease, residents are forced to move elsewhere. Gilgo Beach was founded by High Hill Beach residents who were similarly displaced when Jones Beach was being constructed.
Gilgo Beach provides parking and docking for boats, which are allowed to stay overnight. There are places, such as the Bunger Shack, that sell and rent surfboards and other sporting gear (including Frisbees). According to many expert beach-goers, the waves at Gilgo Beach are more impressive than most other Long Island beaches, and surfing lessons are offered various times throughout the season.
Popular activities at Gilgo Beach include body-boarding, skim-boarding, paddle-boarding, beach volleyball, and fishing at designated areas. There is a full bar, food, and refreshments at the Gilgo Beach Inn which can be enjoyed at any of three separate playgrounds and picnic tables. The entrance fees during the beach season occur from 8am to 4pm, and live music is enjoyed every Sunday in the summertime. Lifeguards are on duty from May 29th- June 20th during the weekend hours, and daily from June 26th - Sept. 6th.
Gilgo Beach has made the news lately for a string of murders that left four victims' remains just steps from Ocean Parkway. Police discovered the bodies in December of 2010 during an investigation of a missing person, Shannon Gilbert, from New Jersey who disappeared on her way to a client in Fire Island.
Since DNA evidence proved Gilbert was not among the remains, police were unsure of whether to link the murders to a single killer. Developments in the case have led police to identify all four victims as Caucasian women in their twenties who advertised escort services on Craigslist. Though one man was questioned at his residence in the area for Gilbert's disappearance, a lack of evidence and weathered remains continue to challenge police in discovering the killer.
In 1853 the park at Gilgo Beach was utilized as life savings service grounds, which is meant to aid ships and boats in distress. In 1925 the Gilgo State Park was joined with the United States Coast Guard, but was later abandoned due to advances in technology that rendered the services outdated. It was left without a function until Robert Moses annexed it in his Long Island Parks groupings.
It now serves as a wildlife reserve for a bird species known as the piping plover and a plant known as the sea beach amaranth. Pets are prohibited. Nonetheless, Gilgo Beach is available to all residents and is only closed during instances of general safety concerns.
*Gilgo Beach has become the center of Long Islandís largest homicide investigation. From December 2010 to about April of 2011, police discovered 10 sets of human remains on Gilgo Beach, all found about seven miles apart along Ocean Parkway.