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Rockaway Beach guide – Queens beach in New York City

Most people do not even dream that New York has beaches – but Coney Island in Brooklyn and Hamptons in Long Island, NY, are there to prove that there is life beyond Manhattan hahaha. However, anyone who knows a little about the beaches here knows that they do not compete with other famous destinations, such as Miami or West Palm Beach. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been encouraged to explore many beaches in the area. One of the most famous beaches in the city is Rockaway Beach, in Queens – just minutes from JFK airport. I spent over three years ignoring Rockaway – often blaming the laziness to take a long subway ride to get there. However, I always ended up seeing something about the beach, with pictures of friends that are always there. My husband from time to time suggested the tour and I was reluctant. Until last Saturday we decided to check out. And I confess: I underestimated Rockaway Beach.

Famous in the Ramones song, Rockaway Beach attracts about 1 million visitors each year. The atmosphere there is quite different from the Manhattan’surban jungle  – it seemed like I was in another city, a seaside town, that is crowded in the summer and calm in the colder months. This peninsula has a population of about 13 thousand people. When we get there, by subway, we are already delighted with the architecture of the houses and the structure. The beachside boardwalk, a little over 5 miles long, was revitalized and opened just over 2 years ago – as the region got serious damage from Hurricane Sandy. From the station to the beach, we walked about five minutes and as we walked, we became more and more enchanted by everything we saw. Maybe the fact that we got there with zero expectation helped in that first impression.

Beach

Every point on the beach is divided by the streets. We start exploring the place from Beach 67. From there to Beach 77, the place is usually quieter and attracts a lot of surfers and there are some surf schools – in fact, it is the city’s only legal surfing beaches. The area between Beach 80 to Beach 100 is the busiest, with concessions of restaurants and many families. However, it is worth remembering that the beach goes from Beach 9th Street to Beach 149th Street. The waters are calm – but very cold!

Structure:

The structure was something that impressed us a lot: there are many public restrooms along the boardwalk, plus sprays showers and even free sunscreen. In the entrances to the beach, there are beach mats, which help the access of strollers and wheelchairs. The only negative point, in my view: there is no chair rental service. There are also sports courts and playgrounds for children.

Eating: 

Rockaway Beach has many restaurants and bars, however, most of them are not located near the beach. There are four concessions – (B.17th Street, B.86th Street Island, B.97th Street Island, and B.106th Street Island). The concessions change from season to season. We opened Foursquare app and found several choices of varied restaurants, from seafood to burgers. We choose Pico Mexican restaurant – 419 Beach 129th St – which even opens all year. We ordered guacamole, burrito (we shared it), beer and a margarita and spent about $50. We love the food and the service. To get there, we requested a Lyft and then walked back along the beach.

How to get there:

The A subway line serves Rockaway Beach with many stops. If you depart from One World Trade Center, the trip is about 45 minutes. Besides that, you can use NYC Ferry – click here to check out more info.

General tips 

  • New York City beaches are open fromm Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
  • During beach season, lifeguards are on duty daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Swimming is prohibited when lifeguards are not on duty and in closed sections. Closed sections are marked with signs and/or red flags.
  • Boardwalk is closed from 10:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m.
  • It is not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages on the beach.
  • Opposite the beach, on Beach Channel Drive, you have incredible views of Manhattan.

Conclusion: I loved Rockaway Beach! Excellent structure and a great option to enjoy a beach on hot days in the city! Of course, I would not recommend it for the first time in New York, but for those who live here or for anyone who is already a tourist veteran, well worth the visit!


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