When you think about New York City, many images and impressions probably spring to mind.
I’ll wager none of those include pristine white beaches and refreshing ocean waves – all reachable by subway.
Rockaway Beach in Queens offers an easy beach day far from the stresses of mega-city life, and all for the price of your MTA ticket. In the words of a famous band (if you don’t know, you’ll find the answer below) “It’s not hard, not hard to reach.”
The same A train that takes you out to JFK International Airport can take you just beyond to Rockaway, which is actually a peninsula between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean – and connected to the more well-known Long Island.
You can also reach Rockaway by bus or ferry, but the A train is a direct line from our home in Harlem, and is the easiest way for us. No hitching rides necessary (hint, hint: another music reference)…
Rockaway has excellent, long white sandy beaches and an impressive 5.5-mile boardwalk. It was too hot the day we came, but I’d love to come back in cooler weather to bike or jog its length.
Sadly, the Boardwalk had been completely destroyed in 2012’s Hurricane Sandy and had to be rebuilt. But this new, improved version is pretty impressive.
The beach was also rebuilt after that devastating storm, with the Army Corps of Engineers restoring the sand along the long beach front.
Music lovers may recognize the name from the Queens-origin rock band, The Ramones, for their 1977 single “Rockaway Beach” Interestingly, the song was used in the campaign to rebuilt Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy. If you don’t know it, you can listen to it here.
If you visit on a weekday, like we did, and head to the quieter stretch – from the 60 streets down to the Far Rockaways, you can really enjoy these wide stretches of uninterrupted beach with few people.
It’s definitely the brisk Atlantic Ocean I grew up with and not the warmer Mediterranean my family and I frequent living in Italy, but the August ocean temperatures were fine.
Later, we went to the more “popular areas”, with bigger crowds and more to offer for food an drinks. There we enjoyed amazing fish tacos before heading back to Manhattan. The perfect ending to the perfect beach day.
Next time you’re in New York and want a day-long ocean get away, listen to the Ramones advice and get away to “Rock, rock, Rockaway Beach. It’s not hard, not hard to reach.”
We’ll see you there next summer…