Surfing near New York City
There are plenty of waves for surfers of all skill levels just outside of Manhattan.
Tue Jul 21 2009
Rockaway Beach, Queens
Why it’s worth it: Free beaches, free parking, a consistent jetty break and easy access via the A train make the Rockaways a popular surf spot year-round. The surrounding area has a historically rough reputation, but legislation in recent years has cleaned up the beaches, installed snack bars and playgrounds, and improved water quality. Stick to the sand, the surf, and the boardwalk, and you’ve got yourself an excellent inner-city escape.
Stuff you should know: Rent your gear—about $40 a day or $25 per half day for boards—at Boarders Surf Shop (192 Beach 92nd St at Rockaway Beach Blvd; 718-318-7997, boarderssurfshop.com) or Rockaway Beach Surf Shop (177 Beach 116th St at Rockaway Beach Blvd, 718-474-9345), both located just a quick walk from the only designated surf spots in New York City. Boarders also offers lessons starting at $55; call Tom or Frank at 718-496-3371 or e-mail NYSurfSchool@aol.com to make a reservation.
Getting there: Take the Far Rockaway--bound A train to Broad Channel and transfer to the Rockaway Park S. Stops for the beach and surf shops run from 90th St to 116th St.
Surf2Live surf school
Western Long Island
Why it’s worth it: Day-trippers flock to Long Beach, an hour’s ride on the LIRR and home to three surf beaches at a time—two permanent and one rotating. The Long Beach Surf Shop (70 W Park Ave; 516-431-5431, longbeachsurfcam.com), directly across from the train, rents foam boards for beginners plus a large selection of boards for all levels (all $40 a day), and sells wet suits for $89.
Stuff you should know: Experienced surfers beware: Crowded surfing areas and the ever-present groups of students and instructors can be annoying. If you’re a beginner, however, Long Beach is a great place to start. Sign up in advance for a group ($65) or individual lesson ($115 to $125) from certified master surf instructor Elliot Zuckerman and crew at Surf2Live surf school (surf2live.com); they’ll meet you on the beach and provide you with boards and rash guards. If you’re cruisin’ for love, check out Surf2Live’s Friday-night Adult Singles’ Surfing Class, running now through September.
Getting there: Purchase the LIRR Long Beach package (mta.info/lirr/getaways/), which includes a round-trip ticket and beach access for $19; visit longbeachny.org for the rotating surf beach schedule.
Central Long Island
Why it’s worth it: Those willing to trek further out on the island to avoid the crowds take the LIRR to Babylon and transfer to the Robert Moses State Park shuttle; once in the park, the best surf can be found on the western end of field No. 2. Or, pack a lunch and take the ferry from Sayville to Sunken Forest, Fire Island, a remote beach where the breaks are made by sandbars instead of jetties. This means more fickle waves and ever-changing conditions. (The nature trail through one of the nation’s few remaining maritime forests is a must-see, as well.)
Stuff you should know: For a little help around the area, call born-and-raised Fire Islander Glen Kleinhans (631-495-9348, surffireisland.com), who will work out a custom package for rentals, tours and surf lessons ($75 and up). You can also rent gear at Bunger Surf Shop (50 E Main St; 631-661-1526, bungersurf.com) in Babylon.
Getting there: Long Island Rail Road offers Fire Island packages, including beach access, to Robert Moses for $19 and to Sunken Forest for $26. Go to mta.info/lirr/getaways/ for more info.
Liquid Yoga + Surf
Eastern Long Island
Why it’s worth it: For seasoned surfers, there’s no place in the New York area like the southern shores of Montauk, whose consistent swells and great waves make it a mecca for those with easier-to-paddle (but harder-to-maneuver) longboards. It’s a three-hour trip from the city—so you may want to plan for a weekend stay at one of the many hotels, motels or surf resorts. Rates are steep and rooms fill up way in advance; check out montauk-online.com for options.
Stuff you should know: Surfers of all levels mingle with Hamptons socialites at Ditch Plains Beach, where you can rent a board from Air and Speed Surf Shop (759 Montauk Hwy; 631-668-0356, airandspeedsurf.com) or take in a Saturday-morning yoga class and surf or paddleboard lesson from Liquid Yoga + Surf ($129, through September, liquidyogaandsurf.com). Surrounding beaches offer more challenging waters and fewer crowds.
Getting there: Take the Long Island Rail Road ($23 one way, mta.info/lirr) or the Hampton Jitney ($53 round-trip, hamptonjitney.com) to Montauk.
The Jersey shore: Party towns
Why it’s worth it: Hobokenites and North Jerseyans frequent Manasquan, and Belmar is loaded with Staten Islanders. Food and nightlife options in both towns are plentiful.
Stuff you should know: One-on-one and two-on-two lessons are held at Belmar, Manasquan, and nearby Bradley beaches through Summertime Surf (732-599-2700, summertimesurf.com). If you’ve had an intro lesson and are planning to spend a few days at these beaches over the course of the summer, sign up for a three-, five- or seven-pack of discount classes, which mixes surf lessons with yoga and fitness instruction. For rental equipment, visit Eastern Lines (1605 Ocean Ave; 732-681-6405, easternlines.com) in Belmar or Inlet Outlet (146 Main St; 732-223-5842, inletoutlet.com) in Manasquan.
Getting there: Take NJ Transit’s North Jersey Coast line (round-trip $20 to $22, about two hours); change at Long Branch for your final destination. Daily beach fees vary by town, but expect to pay between $5 and $8.
Coastline Adventure Surfing School
The Jersey shore: Quiet surf
Why it’s worth it: For a more subdued surf experience, head to Asbury Park. The hometown of Bruce Springsteen is building itself back up after years of disrepair, and shuttered storefronts are starting to open up again .
Stuff you should know: The surfers you’ll find here are mainly locals, or students at Coastline Adventure Surfing School. Coastline Adventure (732-300-5115, njsurfschool.com) hosts private lessons seven days a week, and one- or two-day beginner camps on weekends—some for women only—but they start early. Take the train down Friday night and stay overnight (visit cityofasburypark.com for local hotel listings); it’s a perfect excuse to see a show at the Stone Pony (stoneponyonline.com)—the legendary bar where Springsteen got his start.
Getting there: Take NJ Transit’s North Jersey Coast line (round-trip $20.50, about two hours); change at Long Branch for Asbury Park. Daily beach fees are $5.
The Jersey shore: All-inclusive
Why it’s worth it: Sign up for one of Adventure Society’s monthly surfing excursions, running now through October. Choose from several rental-and-lesson packages ranging from $83 to $183, all including a van ride from the city to a Jersey surf beach TBD (destinations vary based on weather and wave conditions; most trips are 90 minutes to two hours away), wet suit and board and daily beach pass.
Stuff you should know: The bus leaves anytime between four and eight in the morning. Ouch.
Getting there: Visit adventuresociety.com to sign up; society members get discounts on all events. The next surf trips are July 25 and August 29, with more to be announced.
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