The city's Parks Department maintains 14 miles of beaches, all of which are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Lifeguards are usually on duty from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Here are some suggestions for finding surf 'n' sun in the city:
Pelham Bay Park, the Bronx
Orchard Beach is a mile-long stretch of beach that gets very crowded during the heat of the summer. It includes a boardwalk, playgrounds, a band shell and tennis and basketball courts.
By bus: Bx12; Bx5
Beach 1st and Beach 149th Sts., Rockaway, Queens
The Rockaways host a sandy beach and a plain wooden boardwalk. Adjancent to the city beach, the National Parks Service maintains Jacob Riis Park, with more beach and surfers drawn to the rough and tumble surf.By subway: A train to Rockaway, connecting to the Rockaway Park shuttle Broad Channel, to Beach 90 St, Beach 98 St, Beach 105 St, or Beach 116 St.
Surf Avenue, Brooklyn
The most famous of all New York City's beaches, Coney Island can be a unique experience. The wide strip of beach gets so crowded on hot, weekend summer days, it's sometimes difficult to get to the water's edge. After soaking up the sun on the beach, visitors can soak up the atmosphere on the boardwalk and at the Astroland amusement park, where a ride on the Cyclone caps off the day.
Subway: B, D, F, N to Stillwell Av-Coney Island; D, F to West 8 St.
Brightwater Avenue, Brooklyn
Extending east from Coney Island is a different beach experience. Brighton Beach is filled with Russian immigrants, and walking the boardwalk one feels transported to a foreign place. Be sure to factor in time for lunch or dinner at one of the many Russian restaurants in the neighborhood.
Subway: D or Q to Brighton Beach.
Oriental Boulevard, Brooklyn
Manhattan Beach is further east than Brighton Beach and the least accessible of Brooklyn's main beaches. Nevertheless, expect to find crowds at the height of the summer.
Subway/Bus: Q train to Brighton Beach, connecting to B1 bus eastbound to Oriental Boulevard.
JONES BEACH STATE PARK
Ocean Parkway, Wantagh
This Long Island beach is filled with New Yorkers in the summer because of its easy access via the Long Island Rail Road. The wide, sandy beaches, good waves and beautiful bathhouses also are a draw.
Train: Long Island Rail Road Babylon branch from Penn Station to Freeport. Shuttle buses at Freeport go directly to the beach.
SOUTH and MIDLAND BEACHES
Father Capadanno Blvd. & Sand Lane, Staten Island
Staten Island's main beaches offer spectacular views of the Verrazano Bridge and Brooklyn. Though a bit of a haul on public transportation, the payoff will be a less crowded beach than you're likely to find elsewhere in the city.
Subway/bus: Take the R train subway to 86th Street in Brooklyn, then catch the B53 or B79 bus, connecting to the S53 at School Road and Lily Pond Avenue. Also express bus service Bx51, Bx4, Bx5, Bx6, Bx7, Bx8 to FDR Boardwalk
GREAT KILLS PARK and BEACH
Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island
This park has beach, new bathhouse and snack bar. There are also nature trails, a marina and playing fields. The park is part of the National Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area.
WOLFE'S POND PARK and BEACH
Raritan Bay and Prince's Bay, Holton to Cornelia avenues, Staten Island
Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the day at this park, which has 170 acres of wooded park lands.