Hampton Bays is located at 40°52′26″N 72°31′16″W (40.873940, -72.521167), about 81 miles (130 km) to the east of Manhattan (New York City).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 18.1 square miles (47.0 km2), of which 12.9 square miles (33.5 km2) is land and 5.2 square miles (13.4 km2), or 28.54%, is water. The hamlet is surrounded by three bays, the Great Peconic Bay to the north, and Shinnecock and Tiana bays to the south. The two southern bays are a part of a greater bay system, called the Great South Bay system, which stretches from approximately Southampton Village to Jamaica Bay in New York City. The Shinnecock Canal, a man-made canal located in the eastern part of the hamlet, connects the Great Peconic Bay with the Shinnecock Bay. Shinnecock Inlet, which leads from the Shinnecock Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, is the easternmost inlet, making it very popular for commercial fishing. The inlet itself, which separates the barrier beaches of Hampton Bays from those of neighboring Southampton, was created in the New England Hurricane of 1938 when the forces of the hurricane washed over that area of barrier beach, connecting the waters of the Atlantic with the bay.
The Hampton Bays CDP is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the south; by the Shinnecock Inlet and the eastern portion of Shinnecock Bay to the east, beyond which lie the village of (Southampton and the CDP of Shinnecock Hills; by Great Peconic Bay to the north, beyond which lie the towns of Southold and Riverhead; and by the CDPs of Flanders and East Quogue (still within the town of Southampton) to the west.
Hampton Bays is served by Sunrise Highway (NY 27), which is a major artery to the western parts of Long Island and New York City. The hamlet is also served by Montauk Highway (CR 80), a two-lane road which runs from New York City to Montauk. Montauk Highway serves as the "Main Street" of many towns and villages along the south shore of Long Island.
The Long Island Rail Road provides an infrequent rail service seven days per week via the Montauk Branch between Hampton Bays and New York City. Local Suffolk County buses also provide service to neighboring areas.
The waterways in the area, including the Shinnecock Canal, provide invaluable routes for boats.
Like most of the other communities in The Hamptons, tourism is a critical component of the local economy.
Commercial fishing remains a vital part of the Hampton Bays economy, centered on the fishing station at Shinnecock Inlet. After Montauk, Hampton Bays is the second-busiest commercial fishing port in the state of New York. According to 2014 statistics by the National Marine Fisheries Service, 4.7 million pounds of finfish and shellfish, worth $5.5 million, were landed in the Hampton Bays/Shinnecock port.
Hampton Bays was used as the set of the 2007 movie Margot at the Wedding starring Nicole Kidman and Jack Black.
The hamlet was settled in 1740 as "Good Ground", which became the main hamlet of eleven in the immediate area. The area where Main Street, also known as Montauk Highway, is located today, was the approximate area of the original hamlet.
There were ten other hamlets in the area. They were called Canoe Place, East Tiana, Newtown, Ponquogue, Rampasture, Red Creek, Squiretown, Southport, Springville, and West Tiana. Most of these hamlets were settled by one or two families and had their own school house. Many of the names from the former hamlets are still featured as local street names today.
In 1743, a smallpox outbreak was attributed to deliberate distribution of infected blankets being handed out by one K "Mole" Fallo, who then purchased land titles from widows and orphans.
As a result of the growth of the surrounding hamlets and villages in the Hamptons and increased tourism from New York City, the eleven hamlets, although generally called "Good Ground" collectively by the early part of the 20th century, amalgamated under the name "Hampton Bays" in 1922. The motive behind the name change was for the hamlet to benefit from the "Hamptons" trade that the community's neighbors were experiencing.
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,236 people, 4,877 households, and 3,092 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 1,016.1 per square mile (392.4/km²). There were 6,875 housing units at an average density of 570.9/sq mi (220.5/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 92% White, 0.87% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 3.69% from other races, and 1.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2% of the population.
There were 4,877 households out of which 26.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the CDP, the population was spread out with 20.8% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 23.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 98.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.3 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $50,161, and the median income for a family was $58,773. Males had a median income of $47,633 versus $30,426 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $27,027. About 6.7% of families and 10.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.9% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.East Quogue (west)
Shinnecock Hills (east)
Hampton Bays is served by the Hampton Bays Union Free School District. The district operates three schools. Hampton Bays Elementary School serves grades Pre-K-4, and Hampton Bays Middle School, which fully opened in Fall 2008, serves grades 5-8. It is the first "green" school in New York state. Hampton Bays High School serves grades 9-12.
HB Schools' athletic teams are called the "Baymen", in honor of local commercial fishermen who work the hamlet's inland waters. Team colors are purple, black and white