When it comes to finding outdoor activities to enjoy, New York really takes the cake. There are so many ways to have fun in this state throughout all four seasons. However, nothing really quite compares to heading out to the beach once the weather finally starts to heat up! After all, who doesn’t love going to the beach? There are several different beaches to choose from, but today, we’ve decided to focus on the one with the longest miles of sandy beach to offer. So are you curious about which beach is the longest beach in New York? Below, we’ll discover which beach holds the title. We’ll also go into fun things you can do in the area and what kinds of plants and animals you’ll come across as well.
What Is the Longest Beach in New York?
The longest beach in New York is Rockaway Beach. This beach boasts a 5.5-mile boardwalk and seven miles of sandy beach. The beach is located in Southern Queens in New York City and is actually an 11-mile-long peninsula. Since it’s a peninsula, it is surrounded by water on three different sides. It has the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Jamaica Bay to the north, and Rockaway Inlet to the west.
Rockaway Beach is accessible to the public and brings in millions of visitors every summer season. Luckily, for most New Yorkers, the beach is easily accessible by subway or bus — depending on where you’re coming from. This is why from Memorial Day all the way through Labor Day, this beach is filled with tons of people tanning, swimming, and enjoying everything the beach has to offer. So are you curious about what there is to do at Rockaway Beach? You’ll be blown away when you find out that this is one of the most happening spots in New York City.
Things to Do at Rockaway Beach
When it comes to having fun, you’ll be sure to have plenty out at Rockaway Beach. Although it is still part of the five boroughs of New York City, many people claim that the area doesn’t feel like New York at all. As you walk around the area, you’ll notice pastel condos and houses that make up the community, giving it a unique appearance. So what is there to do once you’re here? Below, we’ve got a guide on the best way to enjoy this beach.
Go to the Beach
This one might seem redundant, but it has to be said. You must check out the beach. The long stretch of sand gives you the opportunity to choose from lots of different spots to park your beach chairs and umbrella. Once you’ve set up, it’s time to sit back and relax. Or, if you’re really feeling adventurous, then you’ll want to set yourself up at 67th Street. One of the key features that really attracts people here is that this is the only beach where you can legally surf waves in a densely populated area. Many have noted that 67th Street offers the best waves for surfing. However, if you’re looking to get away from the crowds and have a more peaceful experience, then you’ll want to head down to 105th to 116th Streets. This part of the beach has been noted to be a bit quieter and less crowded.
Take Surf Lessons
Since Rockaway Beach is the heart of surfing in New York City, it should come as no surprise that you can learn how to ride waves here. If you’re a beginner who’s hoping to get out on the water with your surfboard, then you should definitely take advantage of the surf lessons offered here. There are a number of companies that offer surf lessons. The best part is that many of these surf companies offer lessons year-round. So if you’re willing to learn in the cold, then you may just be good enough to show off your surfing skills by summertime.
Check Out the Local Shops
Another enjoyable activity to enjoy once you’ve made your way to Rockaway Beach is checking out all of the local shops. There are tons of cool surf shops that are worth stopping by, such as Rockaway Beach Surf Shop, a family-run business that sells surf gear and accessories. There are also many cool clothing shops, such as Zingara Vintage & Handmade Treasures. Here you can find a rich selection of curated vintage clothes as well as other interesting relics of past times.
Enjoy Lots of Beachfront Dining
The boardwalk at Rockaway Beach alone is worth strolling down. However, if you’re feeling a bit famished after a particularly difficult surf lesson, you’ll be happy to discover all of the beachfront dining here. Since this is a boardwalk, you can expect to find many amazing seafood options as you stroll along, including fresh poke bowls and lobster rolls. If you’ve been melting in the sun for too long, then why not refresh yourself with a delicious ice cream cone? There are a lot of great food options here, each with its own unique menu.
The Rockaway Beach Ecosystem
One of the most fascinating aspects of Rockaway Beach, that many people might not know, is that it is considered a barrier beach. The beach acts as a buffer between the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay. Barrier beaches are vital to local ecosystems because they protect the mainland from large waves that are produced during hurricanes. Additionally, barrier beaches also act as safe havens for birds to more easily find food. Along with protecting the mainland, Rockaway Beach also creates a supportive habitat for many different plant and animal species.
Sand dunes are another common feature that you’ll find on barrier beaches. A sand dune is a mound of sand that is formed by the wind and maintained through local vegetation. What makes sand dunes so important is that they help maintain the health of the barrier island. Rockaway Beach features many sand dunes. Without these sand dunes, the beach would begin to fully erode and could eventually disappear.
Next, let’s discover the types of plants and animals that you can come across when visiting this beautiful beach.
What Plants Will You Find on Rockaway Beach?
One of the most significant plants that you’ll come across at this beach is the American beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata). It is important for local vegetation because it contributes to creating and maintaining sand dunes at the beach. This beach grass has the incredible ability to build and maintain sand dunes by capturing sand that is being blown by the wind. When this sand is captured, it helps the dunes grow taller and also allows the plant to grow more as well. It’s a win-win situation! After Hurricane Sandy, many environmentalists planted thousands of these grasses all along the beach to help protect the shoreline.
Another plant that you’ll likely see at Rockaway Beach is the seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens). Along with being beautiful in color, these plants are incredibly salt-tolerant. This is why you will often see them growing around beaches. The bright yellow color of its leaves attracts many pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and more! The seaside goldenrod is critical for the ecosystem as it pollinates a great number of flowering plants and food crops.
What Animals Can You See at Rockaway Beach?
Rockaway Beach is also a fantastic area to spot some of New York City’s wildlife. The beach and its surrounding area are very important for many birds! Some birds that you’ll spot here include seagulls, plovers, sandpipers, and terns. The sanderling, which is a type of sandpiper, is a small bird that hangs out around Rockaway Beach during the wintertime. You’ll typically find these birds looking for food near the wet sand. Their diet consists of sand crabs and worms, which are easiest to find by the seashore.
There’s also a variety of marine life at this beach. One of the most notable is the humpback whale. This whale can often be spotted off Rockaway Beach as they migrate between the Caribbean and Canada. You’ll also find crabs as well as small and large fish, including striped bass and bluefish. There have even been seals spotted off the coast. However, this is usually a rare occurrence.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © heymynameismark/Shutterstock.com
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