The area now occupied by Watch Hill Village was originally home to the Niantic Indians. One of their influential leaders, Chief Ninigret, now greets visitors in bronze relief from the village park. Later, during The Revolutionary War, Watch Hill became an important outpost and lookout observing the entrance to Long Island Sound. In 1806, Thomas Jefferson signed the order establishing the historic Watch Hill Lighthouse. Since then, it has been an important navigational aid and lifesaving station in an area riddled with shipwrecks.
At the turn of the 20th century, Watch Hill established itself as a resort community with numerous grand hotels and beach “cottages.” By the mid 1900s, all of the hotels burned down with the exception of one, The Ocean House.
During the summer and fall months, the area’s weather is perfect for a walk to Fort Mansfield at the end of Napatree Point. The hike offers spectacular views of Fisher’s Island, Stonington Borough, and Mystic, Connecticut.
There are three private beaches in Watch Hill with access to the public. They include East Beach, the Watch Hill Merry-Go-Round Beach, and the Napatree Point Conservation Area. Watch Hill Merry-Go-Round Beach is open to the public for a fee. There are also bathing facilities and lavatories available.
East Beach is accessible through a number of entrances located on Bluff Avenue, Everett Avenue, and Manatuck Avenue. Please note that while the beach is open to the public, they are privately owned. There are neither lifeguards on duty, nor is there parking available in close proximity to these entrances. Street parking is prohibited at all times and monitored closely by the Westerly Police Department. During the early summer months, areas are marked off for preservation of the Piping Plover, an endangered species of local dune-dwelling bird. Please give these areas a wide birth.
Napatree Point Conservation Area and beach is accessible via an entrance from the access road immediately adjacent to The Misquamicut Club parking lot. Foot paths are marked, and visitors are instructed to remain on the paths at all times. This sensitive area is also home to the Piping Plover and as with East Beach, will have several areas marked off during the early summer months.
Watch Hill Harbour House Inn