It’s not hard, not far to reach! Your ultimate guide to Rockaway Beach on a budget

Rockaway: Not only is it the lone surfing beach in NYC, it’s pretty dern nice too. Photo via Flickr’s samskipti.

As you already know, this summer is hot and it’s only going to get hotter. You have several options on the weekend: Hide in your house, blasting the A/C while lying naked on your bed, wait in the McCarren Pool line for an hour, avoiding eye contact with young gang members, or head out to Rockaway beach, play in the sand, swim in the ocean, laugh with friends and basically have a way better time. Rockaway is your summer escape, your happy place, your slice of paradise away from the rumble and grumble of the concrete jungle we all love and hate that’s way cleaner than Coney Island. Here is everything you need to know about how to make the most of your Rockaway trip, without spending Rockefeller dough. 

GETTING THERE

Subway: Take the A train heading to Rockaway Park and get off anywhere between Beach 90 Street and Beach 116 Street. If you want to go to Jacob Riis Park (or better known as Fort Tilden), take the 2 or the 5 to Flatbush Avenue/Brooklyn College and then the Q35 Bus to Riis Beach.

Rockabus: The Rockabus is an affordable option to get to and from Williamsburg to Rockaway and Fort Tilden. Buses run every Saturday & Sunday starting at 9:30am with the last bus leaving Fort Tilden at 7:30pm and Rockaway at 7:00pm. A round-trip ticket is $15. You will see people you know so look your best.

Bicycle: If you’re up for it, biking is a great way to get to Rockaway and see some other neighborhoods you are probably unfamiliar with! This is the safest route. The ride can take about 1.5 hours so make sure you leave early to avoid the heat and get ample beach time.

WHERE TO BUY BEER AND SNACKS

Rockaway Taco: Located on 96th Street, Rockaway Taco is where it all began. Try their fish tacos and the cucumbers – a bag of mango and cucumbers swimming in a spicy lime marinade. There will be a line to order (sometimes it’s outrageously long) but once you have, you won’t be waiting too long for the food.
Best value: $3 for a taco, which is pretty small. People usually get two. “Deluxe it” for a $1 extra, which means a dollop of guacamole.

The Sandbar: This isn’t one of the “hipster bars” lining the boardwalk, but they do serve cheap beer. You’ll still be able to catch glimpses of the original Rockaway crew – Italian New Yorkers with Mafioso accents. I’d avoid the food though; much better options elsewhere. Located at 116th Street.
Best value: $3 for a plastic cup of Bud

Caracas: The East Village staple is now at Rockaway Beach! Order what you usually get but be open to some of the new additions. Located at 106th Street.

Low Tide Bar: This bar offers ice-cold draught beer and micheladas. Literally right off the beach, you can sit in their boardwalk beer garden and knock back a few. Stick around for their theme nights, which include Red Neck Riviera night and Jamaican night. Located at 96th Street.
Best value: $4 pints.

NOTE: If you’re going to Fort Tilden/Jacob Riis Park, your best bet is to bring snacks beforehand. There are no concession stands, although occasionally a dude walks around selling beer from his cooler. The other option is the Breezy Dog truck that’s usually stationed outside of the entrance to Fort Tilden.

AFTER THE BEACH

Rippers menu, via Rippers Tumblr

Rippers: From the guys of the Meat Hook and Robertas, comes Rippers, a beachfront snack shack and bar. Every other Sunday, Rippers hosts Tiki Disco where you can dance to the tunes of DJ Eli Escobar. Located at 86th street.

Connolly’s Bar: Located a few blocks from the beach, this well-priced bar is a favorite among locals and the Brooklyn hipsters. Get a floater (comes in a Styrofoam cup) and drink away that sunburn! Located at 95th Street.
Best value: $6 for the frozen drinks

Thai Rock: Thai food is surprisingly a great beach food (I guess not that surprising since Thailand is mostly beaches and The Beach was filmed there). Thai Rock offers superb Thai food at a great price. Located at 92nd Street.

SURF’S UP

86 to 92 street is the popular surf spot, nicknamed “surf beach”. This place can get crowded!

67 to 69 street is another stretch of surf. It’s a little bit less popular, probably because behind it is are some heinous new developments as well as scary-looking projects.

Preparing to put some toes on the nose with Locals Surf School.

If you’re learning to surf, you can take lessons with Locals Surf School. They’re all pals with the Rippers and the Rockaway Taco guys so just play it cool, man.
Price: Private lessons are $100/hour but go down in price when you book with more people. The best deal is the group lesson: $80 per person for a two hour lesson.

If you need to rent or buy any equipment, head to Boarders on 92nd Street.
Price: Four-hour surfboard rental: $35, full day: $50.

 Hitch a ride to Rockway Beach with Manuela: @ManoolaTakeTwo.

10 Comment

  • Riis Beach and Fort Tilden are not the same place. However, both are part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. http://nyharborparks.org/visit/gana.html

  • Why nobody like to swim at Coney Island?

    • That where babby formed.

    • I think Rockaway Beach is cleaner than the beach at Coney Island.

      I never would have guessed when I was a kid that the Rockaways would turn into a hipster hangout.

  • Nice! Just linked to this in a bachelorette party thread headed there this weekend.

  • Manuela Odell, my friend, I’m not sure which mid-western town you hail from that you think every born and raised New York sounds Italian or a like a “mafioso,” but you are mistaken. Rockaway Beach was built on Irish-American families whom to this day still make up over 30% of the entire population of the peninsula. Rockaway Beach was at one point nicknamed “The Irish Riviera.” Google it. It’s even on our Wikipedia page. Yet you got paid (I hope?) to write about places you really know nothing about and advise people where they can “catch glimpses of the original Rockaway crew – Italian New Yorkers with Mafioso accents” I uderstand the website you write for isn’t the New York Times, or even the Rockaway Wave (if you know what that is), but please do a little research before you start writing stories and advising people on where to spend their free time this summer. People shouldn’t take legal advice from criminals or stock tips from anyone who doesn’t trade and definitely not travel tips from someone who knows nothing about where they are advising people to go!!!

    My town’s been written about and written about — always the same stuff — yet you write like nobody’s written about Rockaway Taco. Find one of our many OTHER places here to get even BETTER fish tacos. But I don’t want to give away our secrets. Also, the Rockaway Park A train only runs during the weekday rush hours; I hope your Brokelyn friends don’t get lost or starve waiting on a Saturday for a train that doesn’t come. And one more side note, from my many bartender friends dealing with the new invasion: Would it kill any of you to tip every once and a while? A little common sense please & decency when traveling.

    See you on the beach! I’m the mafioso at the Sandbar.

    • so what you’re saying is: you want to write stock tips for us?

    • Hey Penuin! I’m actually a born and bred new yorker from the upper west side! My grandma always lived in Queens then retired to Beach 2nd Street in Lawrence, NY which is just past Far Rockaway. There’s a huge Italian population there. I am aware of the Irish Riviera but there’s also a contingent of Italian Americans who go out to Rockaway Beach from other parts of NYC, not to mention all the Irish-Americans who are faking an Italian accent! Didn’t mean to offend anyone or make generalizations!

      See you on the beach!

    • If you dive in to every nook and cranny and discover all there is to find, what’s left for the reader?

  • No I just want to drink cheap beer with my new hipster friends.
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