Summer in the city.
They say it’s about the journey. Good thing, since it took me three tries to get Rockaway Beach on the new ferry. For $1 extra you can bring your bike. (No Citibikes out here!) It sure beats the A train.
The ferry drops you off at Beach 108th Street—a short but un-scenic walk to the Boardwalk and beach beyond. Go left along the Boardwalk and you’re on Rockaway Beach. Go right on your bike and you can get to Rockaway Park (a neighborhood that hosts the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in NYC) and then to the beautiful Jacob Riis Park.
Everything is brand spanking new—thanks to Hurricane Sandy. Rockaway was hit pretty hard, but they did go all out designing a beautiful, sturdy boardwalk meant to fight off whatever nature can throw at it. There are three concession stands that are quiet and upscale in comparison with your normal city beach concessions. I apologize in advance. I can’t help but make comparisons with my beloved Coney Island. (Read this and you’ll understand my love affair.)
It was pretty quiet on this particular day, although one group dominated the boardwalk. Cops on their bikes were out in full force. Nice work if you can get it.
After I got bored with the boardwalk, I wandered down to the beach. There are multiple and friendly handicapped entrances down to the water. Also, tons of lifeguards on this beach famous for rip currents and surfing. The beach is the clear attraction here. Clean, beautiful view with no tankers on the horizon. Just water and sky as far as the eye can see. The water was icy. I’m more of a slow let different body parts go numb kind of ocean swimmer. The chill did make me appreciate the just go for it spirit of most of the beach-goers who were actually in the water.
All in all, a wonderful day!
Know before you go: the ferry costs $2.75 each way and you can’t use your metrocard. The ride takes about an hour (with a stop at Sunset Park, Brooklyn) and runs hourly from Pier 11 at the end of Wall Street: on the :30s during the week on the :15s on the weekend in both directions. Get there early. Lines are long and often latecomers are not allowed on because the boat is full. (It took me three tries!) I don’t think they knew how popular the service would be. Hopefully, they’ll add more for summer.
Don’t want to take the chance? All 50 NYC public swimming pools are officially open! Find the closest one to you here.
Let me leave you with the anthem for Rockaway Beach by the Ramones. It says it all!