For a port city, New York can feel very far from the water. Sure Coney Island is just an F train ride away, but in order to affordably reach a swimmable beach that isn’t visibly full of bodily fluids, cigarette butts and other human discharge, you must put on your patient hat and have faith in public transit. While Brokelyn’s preferred Rockaway transport, The NYC Beach Bus, has temporarily suspended service for the summer, we’ve rounded up a comprehensive list of other ways you can reach da beach and be Your Best Summer Self. Don’t forget to get yourself thoroughly summered at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar while you’re out there.
Ride the A train into eternity
Alright, infinity extends much farther than the A train tracks, but riding that goddamn metal shuttle any farther than the end of the line does not always feel plausible. Yes, taking the A train to Rockaway does mean going past the airport and across Broad Channel, the longest subway stop in New York City, but it’ll also only cost you a MetroCard swipe and will deposit you within comfortable walking distance of the hallowed sandy place.
New York City’s official public beach bus (not actually, but that’s accurate in a sense?) runs from Brooklyn College through Flatlands and across the Marine Parkway Bridge to the land of the beaches, where it makes stops at Jacob Riis Park, Rockaway Park and not too far from Fort Tilden (we’ve personally experienced upstanding bus riders convince the driver to make a slight detour closer to Tilden. It has been done). Again, it’ll cost you a MetroCard swipe and while you won’t be offered any added amenities or conveniences, it’s an affordable and (usually) air-conditioned option.
The only logical way to get to the Rockaways from Brooklyn by bike is to go over the Marine Parkway Bridge. The Marine Parkway Bridge is a very nice bridge, and one which not many pedestrians choose to walk over, so while the MTA officially advises that bikers “walk your bike on the bridge walkway,” the non-car portion is sectioned off and pretty dang rideable. Technically it’s possible to bike to Howard Beach and take the the Cross Bay Bridge, or be really hardcore and bike Rockaway Boulevard through Queens, but that’s pretty strenuous / dangerous / a waste of your time unless you’re not really in it for the beach so much as the commute there.
Psh. Why did you even click on this if you have your own car? Good luck with summer traffic.
This over 20-year-old company offers shuttles to Rockaway Beach, Fort Tilden, Jacob Riis and the very isolated Breezy Point community, which is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy and has restricted access. An Alexis Van will cost you $6 oneway, with beach shuttles running hourly Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 8pm, depending on your destination, between Williamsburg and the beach of your choosing. Your boom box and cooler ride free, and you can make reservations online in advance.
Chartered by OvRide, the Rockaway Beach Bus will offer you a more high-end experience than public transit for a more high-end price. A roundtrip will cost you $25, and a oneway ticket will cost you $15. For the cash, you’ll get to ride to Rockaway in a plush, air-conditioned charter bus with onboard bathrooms and plenty of storage for your numerous surf boards and professional-level picnic setup. Brooklyn pickup locations are Williamsburg’s Union Pool and Bushwick’s Pearl’s Social & Billy Club, and there are a variety of beach drop-off options including Fort Tilden and Riis Park.
The Rock ferry will pick you up at 140 58th St. in Sunset Park and get you to Rockaway in under 45 minutes (according to its website). Ferries depart from Sunset for Rockaway once an hour 6:30am to 8:30pm weekdays, 7:45am to 9:45pm weekends; ferries depart from Rockaway for Sunset every hour on the hour 6am to 9pm weekdays, 7:15am to 10:15pm weekends. The ferry will cost you adults $2.75 oneway, add a buck to bring your bike, or buy a 30-day pass for $121. The ferries boast on-board concessions and charging stations.
We ran the numbers on how much a Lyft and Uber cost from Brooklyn to the beach, and you’re not going to like it. For a shared Line car from Park Slope to Beach 90th St. at 5pm on a Monday (far from prime beach time) it cost $50, and for an Uber Pool, $40. Plus, if you hit traffic, there’s a good chance you’ll have not only saved cash taking the subway, but also time.
Because this guide is comprehensive: Walking
The Marine Parkway Bridge is very walkable and really quite pleasant. Walking the strip of Flatbush Ave. that leads there, not so much. If you are committed to walking to the Rockaways from anywhere but Marine Park or Gerritsen Beach, we bless your heart and direct you to Google Maps. For those of us not on a mission, hopping off the Q35 early and walking the bridge is a nice experience, although the roads on the other side of the bridge are not really intended for pedestrians and are, like much of Queens, quite convoluted.
Offering luxury Lexus cars only, this Brighton Beach car service will get you to Rockaway in proper southern Brooklyn style. If you must take a car, you might as well go all out, and these guys are way more local than Uber or Lyft.
Did we miss a way to get to the beach? Let us know in the comments