One of our favorite parts of summer in NYC is the access to so many waterways, most especially the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, it's cold for many transplants that may not have gotten used to it but by early July, it's actually refreshing. What we love the most, however, is that you can find a place to suit your personality or a specific activity. There is no shortage of pop-up surf lessons, SUP paddle board rentals, motor boats to wakeboard or waterski off of, retro board walks and urban beach vibes. Check out the list below and come back to it when you are up for something new. 8 more weeks of full-on summer.
Riis Park Beach, New York: We fell in love with Riis Park last summer and this year the entertainment and services are even better. This is very much an urban beach but it's a super-fun vibe. Riis Park Beach Bazaar not only offers clear options for mass transport and ride shares but also offers a $28 beach pass including a beach chair rental and two alcoholic beverages. It's a pretty sweet deal that needs to be booked in advance.
Asbury Park, New Jersey: This retro boardwalk and beachside town is in an interesting moment of resurgence and revitalization. The beach gets pretty packed but there are no beaches in the metro NYC area that have such a lively scene of new restaurants and bars, interesting food trucks, and very high quality music venues. Asbury Park Boardwalk gives you all of the information you need to get you there and how to play, eat and even stay if you are up for an overnighter.
Sandy Hook, New Jersey: One of the biggest surprises for many New Yorkers is that there is a 30 minute ferry, that you can board your bike on to, from Pier 11 in Wall Street to get to this secluded and special peninsula. There are 7 beaches, many accessible by shuttle bus once you are off the ferry. There are some spots with food trucks but it's a great place to pack a picnic and explore. Planning is easy with the help of the National Park Service
Robert Moses State Beach, New York: This 5-mile stretch of picturesque beaches is situated in between Jones Beach and Fire Island and has 5 different beaches to enjoy the day. While Field 2 may be the quietest, the closest food concession is at Field 4 so something to consider in advance. If taking long and leisurely walks along the shore is your speed, head to Field 5 and walk over the Fire Island Lighthouse. 90 minutes away from Manhattan, this location is most convenient by car but LIRR does offer a train/bus package to get you there without much hassle.
FAMILY WITH KIDS
Oyster Bay, New York: While you may love the sound of the ocean, there is more ease and relaxation at a bay beach when dealing with the under 5 crowd. The Theodore Roosevelt beach in Oyster Bay, just a 5-minute walk from the LIRR station, is a lovely place to spend the day with tiny tots. In addition to the beach, there are playgrounds, athletic fields, kayaks and a charming town center to idle-away a summer day in. There are concessions at the beach but there are some wonderful places in town as well. The Oyster Bay itinerary can guide you around town. If you are driving, look into the parking fees and restrictions as Centre Island Beach is the only local beach for non-resident parking over the weekends.
Fire Island, New York: A train, a ferry and 32-miles of pristine white sand beaches is what you will find here. Fire Island is really wonderful for all ages but there's something especially nice for school age kids that will be charmed by the Lighthouse, have fun on the ferry and be delighted by the watertaxis. There are 17 beach communities on this small sand bar just off of Long Island and the best ones for families tend to be Davis Park, Saltaire, Seaview and Fair Harbor. It's a really relaxing day with bodysurfing, sandcastle-building and perhaps a nature walk through the woods.
Long Beach, New York: It certainly depends on the day but we would say that Lincoln Blvd beach at Long Beach on Long Island is probably the best wave that is closest to the city. SKUDIN Surf, which also operates out of Rockaway Beach, is your best bet for surf lessons or board rental. Long Beach is slightly behind some of the other regional beaches with developing their boardwalk but it is catching up with more food and beverage options, chair and umbrella rentals and a pretty robust beach volleyball scene. We have always loved the vibe at Lincoln Blvd surf beach which tends to get all of the International expats that live in NYC and surf. And plenty of locals fighting for the same wave! This is our choice for the easiest beach to get to with the LIRR if you are looking to surf with mass transit.
Ditch Plains, New York: Our only overnight trip on this list is Ditch Plains. While Ditch may not be the easiest beach to access and has blanket-to-blanket crowds on the weekend, Ditch Plains beach is the best wave with the most genuine surf vibe in the Northeast. We love Corey's Wave for lessons and value the ability to pay for parking through them (basically on someone's lawn!). Parking is the biggest challenge as you can only park with a resident beach pass and the neighborhood is off limits for street parking. Taxis in town can drop you off and pick you up, which is the best bet. The Ditch Witch food truck is your option for healthy quick-bites and iced coffee.
REV UP THE MOTORS
Shelter Island, New York: Shelter Island, which is accessible by short ferry rides from either North Haven or Greenport, is really great for anything. Sunset beach is great for hanging out with rose and enjoying a see-and-be-seen crowd but what we love is the access to water sports. One of the best local places to wake board or water ski is here on the Long Island Sound. It's a hot spot so plan in advance and book your boat before leaving the city. Peconic Water Sports is our favorite and they will pick you up near North Ferry on the Island.
Candlewood Lake, Connecticut: Beaches are not restricted to oceans and bays. There's something so perfectly Americana about waterskiing on a pristine lake. One of our favorites, and there are many, is Candlewood Lake in Connecticut. Bordering beautiful Litchfield County, the lake is 17 miles long and 2 miles wide which gives you plenty of room to play. Squantz Pond is best of the state park beaches on the lake. Lakeside Watersports is the best option for wakeboarding, tubing, waterskiing and rentals. Planning in advance is key, as much as 10 days in advance.