Beach season has kicked off and given New Yorkers the chance to take a cool dip into the Atlantic Ocean without having to travel too far. Aside from Brighton Beach and Coney Island (read the blog here), there are other options in and around New York.
The nearest one would be the ocean view you have on Far Rockaway. The Rockaway beaches are a long stretch of sand in Queens and they go all the way up to Long Island (where they end up to be less populated). To get there, you take the A-Train to Broad Channel, switch to the S-shuttle and step out at any street you want. It starts at 90th St and goes all the way up to 116th St.
This weekend I took it to the 98th St – Playland stop (still didn’t figure out where their “playland” lies – maybe it has a double meaning?) and walked up to 102th Street. The area is residential with a slight ghetto touch and it has a few options for take-out food and even a bar you could sit in if the crowd inside of it doesn’t scare you away (mostly older locals with too much times on their hands). Compared to Coney Island
or any other normal beach the stretch of sand is about half of what you get anywhere else. Seeing not too many options to lie down at, I parked my towel around one of the life guard chairs (by the way, the best method to not have your stuff stolen) and took a jump into the water. This is when I noticed a great thing about Far Rockaway: The waves! They are huuuge and aggressive and endless – in short, they are a lot of fun! I haven’t seen waves like these in a long time. I believe this makes this beach great for surfing, too. More about this in a different blog.
Another beach I got to check out at Far Rockaway last year was Riis Beach. It is known to the locals as a gay community and many beach cravers run around topless or half-nude. If you are not comfortable with this, don’t go. The stretch of sand is normally sized and it is not as overpopulated as the rest of this stretch of the island. I collected oversized shells over there and use them as decorative storage means nowadays. So, for collectors it is definitely worth to stop by and grab your share of unique oceanic creations.
A visit to Long Branch Beach on the Jersey shores was due last year, too. Even though I heard many good and mind-blowing things about the Jersey shores (beautiful sand, great beach and so on), this area did not impressive me enough to come back. It was better than New York beaches, of course, but you can get a similar beach to this in Long Island without making the trip out to another state. When I went, it was a sunny day in August and the waves were quite big on this particular day. They were actually pretty dangerous, because I got knocked under water a few times. Not the normal being washed-away-in-a-wave type but more the struggling-to-get-back-to-the-surface and trying-to-survive kind of type. And yes, I do know how to swim, just in case you were wondering. Aside from this, Long Branch Beach was a bit stony, so watch where you’re stepping. One foot after another, please. I heard other beaches on the Jersey shore don’t have this issue, so feel free to let me know which beaches exactly.
And last, but not least, I got to check out Long Beach in Long Island last Saturday. Until date the loveliest beach around this area. The people are
nice, respectful and the normal American crowd and you have enough space to yourself. A great area to relax and then catch food on the promenade. You have a variety of different restaurants to choose from: Spanish, Mexcian, American diner, and French style. Five Guys is close by, too, which they are supposed to have one of the best burgers around here. The only turn-off is not the money it costs you to get there (which by LIRR is about $16 both ways off-peak from Penn Station) but the money you pay to get ON the beach! That’s right, Long Island actually makes you pay for using their sand. Unbelievable, but true. Okay, you might think a couple of bucks are justifiable. Wrong! It’s $12 to get in, no matter at which time you show up. I don’t know how Americans feel about this, but I felt kind of fooled and taken advantage off when I found this out. Nothing justifies this amount of money, to be honest. And the fact that they had an abundance of trash cans and some extra guys in uniform patrolling the beach didn’t change my opinion.
Jones Beach, Fire Island, and the notorious Hamptons are still on my agenda, so I’ll keep you posted what my summer will turn out to be in pursuing these plans.