Though Montauk is technically in the Hamptons, there are a lot of things that set this small town apart from other "quintessential Hamptons" destinations. First off, there's the location: Montauk, nicknamed "The End," is literally on the end of Long Island -- the easternmost tip, surrounded on three sides by water, and 12 miles from the next Hamptons town. It's laid-back vibe attracts more surfers and fishermen than socialites (although they can definitely be found, too). Long-time lovers of Montauk worry about the area's growing popularity. The town does have a few upscale restaurants and luxurious B&Bs, but there are no chain restaurants or chain shops, which helps preserve the small-town feel.
Montauk is the area in the Hamptons best suited for active travelers. It's known as the best spot for surfing, and visitors also bike, horseback ride, golf, and hike in the state park. And for those who still want to get out and about in a slightly less vigorous way can go whale-watching or visit the museum, housed in a historic home, and the Montauk Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in New York.
Many visitors to the Hamptons rent houses, but there are several upscale B&B-like options in Montauk. They book up quickly, though, and some close during the off-season. Most lodging can be found in two areas: by the harbor, for water views, or in the village center, near the restaurants and shops.