The barrier island communities include part of Captree Island, Oak Island, Oak Beach, Gilgo Beach and West Gilgo Beach. The barrier beaches have been essential to the growth of the Town of Babylon, both as a vacation destination and as watch stations for the United States Life Saving Service (the forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard). Additionally, the islands were essential for U-Boat surveillance during World War II.
The Oak Beach Life Saving Station #26 was one of the first structures built on the barrier beaches. It is the only surviving station of its kind on Long Island and is currently being used as a community center.
Henry Livingston, editor of the South Side Signal newspaper, became the pioneer summer resident of Oak Beach when he built the first permanent dwelling there in 1879, a cottage he named the "Little Rest." Today, more than 450 families live in the barrier island communities.