Visiting New York City this summer? Take a break from Times Square, shopping and museums and do like the locals: Hop a train or ferry to the beach.
The beach at Coney Island, at the tip of Brooklyn and reachable by four subway lines from Manhattan, is bordered by a famous strip of amusement park rides.
You can also go by subway to Rockaway Beach, Queens, but a new ferry service now departs for the Rockaways from Wall Street’s Pier 11 on the East River in Lower Manhattan, with one stop in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Here are some tips for a beach day in the Big Apple.
Take the D, F, N or Q subway train to the end of the line in Brooklyn ($2.75 each way). Several small amusement parks sit side by side across from the station, with the boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean just beyond.
The famous Cyclone ride is to your left when you get off the train. It’s a wooden roller coaster that will rattle your bones. And it’s easy to spot Deno’s Wonder Wheel amid the colourful jumble of attractions. It’s a towering Ferris wheel with two types of cars. One car slides out to the edge and back in as the wheel turns” the other car is stationary. You’ll be asked which car you prefer when you board.
Have a hot dog from Nathan’s and wander down to the water to dip your toes or take a swim. To your right as you face the ocean, there’s a pier where you’ll find fishermen chatting in various languages — Russian, Spanish, Chinese — while tending to their catch.
Just remember: This isn’t Disney World. It’s a place with old-fashioned charm — the seaside park dates to the 19th century — as well as a big dose of urban grit. You may see litter on the beach and on a hot day, smell garbage in the alleys between the rides. Welcome to New York, folks!
Don’t worry about water safety, though: Water quality is monitored by city health officials and lifeguards watch the swimmers. But don’t leave your belongings unattended. Have one person in your group stay with them on the sand while others get wet.
Daniela Prankl, visiting with her sister from Austria, said the long subway ride from Manhattan to Coney Island “was absolutely worth it.” She enjoyed seeing New Yorkers relaxing at the beach, in contrast to “busy Manhattan.”
“Tourists should know that they can spend a great time there, with having fun in the amusement park, watching fisherman, having a walk at the beach and enjoying nice food,” she said.
The trip by ferry from Wall Street in Manhattan to Beach 108th Street in the Rockaways is only an hour on the water. But hundreds of people have been lining up for the boat at times, so the wait to board can be long, though extra departures have been added to the one-boat-per-hour schedule ($2.75, or Dh10.09, each way, tickets sold on-site or online). The ferry offers spectacular views of One World Trade and the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan.
Rockaway is famous for big waves and even has designated surfing areas. Elsewhere body-boarding and body-surfing rule. Just watch out for strong currents and churning water that can dislodge sand beneath your feet as you wade in.
After the ferry arrives, you can hop a free shuttle bus to various beaches, or walk the few blocks from the bay side of the Rockaway peninsula where the boat drops you off, to the ocean side where the beaches are. You’ll pass shops and eateries along 108th Street as you walk from the ferry to the ocean side, or look for concession stands at Beach 106th Street, Beach 97th Street and Beach 86th Street. Favourite local foodie spots include Tacoway Beach, at 302 Beach 87th St., and Caracas Arepa Bar, 106-01 Shore Front Parkway.
Rockaway was hit hard by flooding from Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Restoration included beach grass plantings and a new concrete boardwalk.