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The best shops at Rockaway Beach

Cowabunga, fashion lovers! Whether you’re looking for vintage or novelty styles, Rockaway Beach is really upping its retail game.

Photograph: Raydene Salinas
Off Season

Ready to hit one of the best beaches in New York? While you’re getting a tan on the sand (booze in hand), it might occur to you that during all the excitement and anticipation, you forgot what to bring to the beach. No sunblock, no beach blanket? No problem. Rockaway beach has its fair share of surf spots, novelties and gifts, but you’ll find awesome vintage shops and a minimall boasting some downtown-cool merchandise, too. Take a break from beaching and boozing, and make sure you check out Rockaway’s stellar shopping scene.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Rockaway Beach in NY

Shops at Rockaway Beach

Breezy Point Surf Shop

Breezy Point’s small store is jam-packed with merchandise, so it may be a bit overwhelming, but it’s worth enduring for the shop’s giant selection of Reef and Rainbow flip-flops and sandals ($11 and up for adults). Also worth checking out: Its popular Locomotion boogie boards with fiberglass skin (starting at $40) and stellar graphics cut a stylish figure in the water. While you’re there, you may as well pick up a traditional shark-tooth necklace ($5) and protective Breezy Point Surf Shop UV shirt with SPF 50+ (from $27), recommended by the American Cancer Society.

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Lola Star

Check out the glitter bar where you can bedazzle Star’s signature slogan tees ($20–$28) or deck out your bod in metallic temporary tattoos ($5 and up). And while gift-y items range from $1 postcards to shot glasses ($6), kitschy loot like leopard-print roller skates ($100) and cherry-shaped earrings ($10) should not be overlooked. Expect to hear ’80s music blasting through the speakers, and follow Star on Facebook for invites to kick-ass events like pinup-girl makeup tutorials, sunset yoga on the beach and, uh, Sunday morning hula hoop classes? It’s a trend; we’re calling it now!

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Off Season

So we reckon that former fashion executive Abra Boero has set up the coolest surf shop on the Rockaway peninsula this summer. Inside the minimalist cove, complete with a backyard and seating area (where large pours of gratis sangria are served), all you trendy shore-goers will find designer apparel and fashionable accessories on the racks. Beach bag feeling empty? Make this shop your first stop before stepping foot onto the sand, and snag essentials like extra-large beach blankets ($110) and Maui Babe sunblock ($18). The shop also carries novelties, too, such as cheeky boob mugs ($10) rocking some seriously awkward tan lines. You’ll also find post-surf garb such as Seersucker palazzo pants ($325) with coordinating bandeaus ($45) and vibrant cotton Hawaiian shirts for dudes ($125).

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The Notion pop-up at the Palms

Here’s more proof that Rockaway is becoming the new trend spot for style. Fashion entrepreneur and DJ May Kwok will debut a killer pop-up inside the Palms—Rockaway’s new minimall boasting a coffee shack, film projector, hammock room and real palm trees (opens July 20). Check out Kwok’s 1,000-square-foot temporary boutique filled with contemporary clothing, swimwear, activewear, baubles and home goods for surfers, fitness-gurus and downtown-cool girls alike. Standout items sourced by Kwok include Cynthia Rowley floral-print wet suits ($264), Joomi Lim gold sphere rings ($135) and a Bing Bang “Hustle” necklace ($125) that we’re totally lusting for.

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Rockaway Beach Surf Shop

Owner Tom Sena opened this tucked-away surf shop 37 years ago and was building boards well before that (since 1969). The family-run business stands as New York’s oldest surf shop and one of the oldest on the East Coast. Specializing in handmade surfboards (starting at $299), fiberglass skimboards ($39) and boogie boards (starting at $20), as well as accessories like surfboard leashes and wet suits, this gem is the reliable go-to spot for all your basic surfing needs.

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Zingara Vintage

Shop owner Erin Silvers opened the cutest hodgepodge antique joint on the corner of Beach Boulevard, hawking treasures from the 1920s onwards. Zingara means “gypsy” in Italian, and while Silvers has hosted many vintage pop-ups all over the coast, the clothes she sells are the real travelers. Grab threads from around the world, including ’60s dresses ($40) as well as island styles for men, and old-school books and board games ($5–$50) for the kids (or big kids). Sift through retro art, housewares ($5–$500) and beach towels ($25–$75) circa 1950s, or just hang 10—there’s a comfortable lounge and vinyl room where an antique record player spins oldies by the Beach Boys.

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