East Beast Weekly: Rockaway, New York

With the main beach on 92nd street located just a few blocks from the A train, Rockaway provides New Yorkers with an accessible and consistent break to escape the concrete jungle. Like most North East breaks, Rockaway usually churns out knee to chest high waves, which are easily chopped up by cross winds. However, with the right mix of storm and tide, Rockaway can transform into a challenging and even dangerous wave that is steep, quick, rather unpredictable, and extremely fun.

Rockaway Beach is a neighborhood on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. Located on the South Shore of Long Island, Rockaway is the the city’s only legal surfing beach, located between 67-69 Street and 87-92 Street. In the early mornings, both local and transplant surfers head to the beach to catch a few waves before work. If the waves are good, you can be sure that many of them will try to catch another session after work before it gets dark. The optimal conditions for Rockaway are a swell from the SE or SW, wind from the NNW or NNE, and mid tide.

While there is a core of local surfers who buttress the New York surf culture year-round, storm or shine, the majority of surfers that flock to Rockaway in the summers are beginners. Rockaway may be New York’s most crowded break, especially when it is firing, which means that things can get messy in the water with surfers going for the same wave. Rockaway has somewhat of a reputation for territorial locals, but in my experience there, I’ve found the local community to be pretty easy going and welcoming to outside surfers of all skill levels.

To me, and to many other wave-deprived Manhattan surfers, Rockaway represents a reprieve, an opportunity to recharge, an escape from the city gridlock. Don’t get me wrong, Rockaway isn’t Malibu, it doesn’t have Pipeline’s waves or Florida’s sprawling silver sand. But it doesn’t try to be anything it is not--Rockaway embraces its New York identity with equal measures of grit and grace. Line-ups are packed during July weekends, but a huge contingent of diehards storm the beach during December blizzards, beaming smiles unsuppressed by tight 5mm wetsuit hoods.

When you make your way out to Rockaway, make sure you take the time to enjoy a stroll down the recently renovated boardwalk, which was entirely reconstructed after Hurricane Sandy. You’ll find great views and an assortment of delicious food trucks--we recommend the taco stand near 89th street!

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Rockaway Surf Club; a local gem that has greatly helped in revitalizing the Rockaway surf scene. The club rents out tall lockers in the back where surfers can store their board and gear, which makes taking the train in from Manhattan to get a quick session much more feasible.

We’re looking forward to getting back out to Rockaway later this week--we hope we see you in the water!

Sea's the Day!
Written by: Clark Perkins

caroline danehy