15 Best Beaches in New York

Written by Jenny Hart
Updated on
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New York is one of the most visited cities in the World.

Even in a bad winter, the attractions of the City are such that visitors come to visit Broadway, shop on 5th Avenue, pamper themselves in a top Manhattan Hotel or visit the wonderful museums and galleries that New York is famous for.

There is less publicity relating to the beaches that New York boasts.

While they receive minimal visitors in the winter, when temperatures can drop alarmingly, there are coastal areas that attract crowds wanting to escape the City.

If you are contemplating a trip to New York anytime from spring until winter sets in, you may like to escape the City for a day.

Here is a list of the 15 Best Beaches in New York which you might like to visit.

1. Coney Island, Brooklyn

Coney Island, BrooklynSource: Felix Mizioznikov / shutterstock
Coney Island, Brooklyn

Coney Island is a place where friends gather to socialize.

They can spend time on the boardwalk but it is equally enjoyable to sit and talk on the beach or even just lie back and sunbathe.

The sea is inviting at the height of summer, if not quite as hot as in latitudes further south.

After a few hours of sun, it is refreshing, however.

For decades, people have enjoyed the old Ferris Wheel as well as the roller coaster and food stalls, but the place would be little without the beach separating the boardwalk from the sea.

2. Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn

Manhattan Beach, BrooklynSource: Vladimir Korostyshevskiy / shutterstock
Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn

Another beach in Brooklyn is Manhattan Beach, which is usually quieter than the others.

The Peninsula has Coney Island and Brighton Beach, but somehow Manhattan has never attracted as many people.

If you are looking for a stretch of sand with not too many people around, perhaps Manhattan is for you? If you are not too keen on the temperature of the water, you can stick to wading between bouts of sunbathing – splashing in the shallows will still cool you off.

The water is generally calm if you do decide to go for a dip.

It’s a good beach for a BBQ or picnic at weekends, and if you arrive early, you can pick a prime spot.

3. Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

Brighton Beach, BrooklynSource: Roman Babakin / shutterstock
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

The only real way to tell you have left Coney Island and arrived at Brighton Beach is that it will be quieter, with fewer people around.

Suddenly there are more open spaces, a relaxed atmosphere, and quiet cafes that serve food and drink to anyone wanting a snack as they come off the beach.

Its nickname is ‘’Little Odessa”, partly due to the Russian shops in the neighborhood.

You will find real variety in the food available.

Have you tried Uzbek or Korean food before? One restaurant looks like a ship – seafood and plenty of beer is on the menu.

4. Midland Beach, Staten Island

Midland Beach, Staten IslandSource: jacopast / Flickr
Midland Beach, Staten Island

This Staten Island beach is fairly inaccessible but some beachgoers regard that as an advantage.

It serves the local neighborhood primarily, with plenty of activities going on – handball and shuffleboard are two of the favorites.

The wide boardwalk encourages cyclists and people who want to jog or take a relaxed stroll.

The only way to get to Midland is to go by car or use local transport, which means taking two buses.

Though it’s not for everyone, it means you are guaranteed relative peace because it will be largely people from the neighborhood hanging out there.

5. Long Beach, Nassau County

Long Beach, Nassau CountySource: shinya / Flickr
Long Beach, Nassau County

Not quite as famous as the coastal city in California of the same name, Long Beach was hit by Hurricane Sandy a few years ago – a rare event, as hurricanes usually hit Mainland USA further south.

The boardwalk and the quality of the surf are two reasons to head for Nassau County.

You will need to pay for a pass to get on to the beach for the day, but there are sometimes promotions which include access as well as the transport costs to get there – if you’re not driving, you will need to take a train.

6. Sandy Hook, Gateway National Recreation Area, Jersey

Sandy Hook, New YorkSource: Roman Babakin / shutterstock
Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook is often ignored and regarded as unfashionable but it is an excellent day out from New York.

There are lifeguards patrolling the beach and plenty of things to do.

If you like fishing or enjoy walking nature trails, you will find plenty to do here other than just sunbathing.

The lighthouse is over 250-years old.

To get there, catch the ferry from Downtown Manhattan and enjoy a 45-minute trip, admiring the city’s skyline as you go.

If you are not shy, you can go to Gunnison while you are there – a nudist beach.

7. Fort Tilden Beach, Queens

Fort Tilden Beach, QueensSource: imark22 / shutterstock
Fort Tilden Beach, Queens

It’s only on the weekends in the summer that this beach in Queens shows much sign of human activity, even though it is so close to hugely populated areas.

There are ferries that take visitors close to the shore and beach buses made for the job.

There is little in the way of infrastructure and no lifeguards, so you are on your own.

You will need to take your own picnic with you and some visitors really do make a meal of that.

The beach’s appeal is its seclusion, but you need to plan properly if you are to get everything you want from the place.

8. Jacob Riis Park Beach, Queens

 Jacob Riis Park BeachSource: Elzbieta Sekowska / shutterstock
Jacob Riis Park Beach

There’s more to the popularity of this beach than the sand.

The beach bazaar has become an established market where people come to be entertained, eat, and shop.

It is partly indoor, partly outdoors.

Nicknamed ‘’the People’s Beach’’, Jacob Riis offers plenty of activities, including yoga and increasingly, soccer.

If you want to have a party by the sea, this is the beach to do it.

Bring your own BBQ if you can, although there is plenty of food to buy and plenty of variety as well, from Middle Eastern to Latin.

9. Rockaway Beach, Queens

Rockaway Beach, QueensSource: MISHELLA / shutterstock
Rockaway Beach, Queens

Rockaway Beach offers not only great swimming, but on the days when the waves are a little bigger, you can surf as well.

It is a very clean beach, despite its popularity.

There may be a game of volleyball going on, with others simply walking along the sand in search of anything interesting that has been washed up.

There’s plenty of choice when it comes to food – everything from pizzas to tacos.

You can catch a train to Rockaway, with great rail connections within New York City as a whole.

The ferry or beach buses are two alternatives.

10. Main Beach, East Hampton

Main Beach, East HamptonSource: James Kirkikis / shutterstock
Main Beach, East Hampton

The Hamptons are home to the rich and famous, so it’s not surprising that it has a beach that has been recognized among the best in the USA. There are others close by, but Main Beach is the one that gets the most plaudits.

As you would expect, things are strictly 5-star: lifeguards during the day, quality restrooms, food on hand.

The sand is very clean and dropping litter is definitely frowned upon.

What cannot be guaranteed is the weather, but when the sun comes out, Main Beach is the place to be seen.

11. Montauk, Long Island

Montauk, Long IslandSource: mnapoli / shutterstock
Montauk, Long Island

If you want to go to Montauk Island, you have to appreciate that you will have to go to the very end of South Fork on Long Island.

Not everyone can be bothered to do that, so you can expect to be away from the crowds on this peninsula.

There is little infrastructure and nature still reigns.

Surfing is fairly good and those who make the commitment to spend a weekend at Montauk are unlikely to be disappointed – there is accommodation at Surf Lodge and a lovely sunset to watch.

12. Shelter Island, Suffolk County

Shelter Island, New YorkSource: Peter Bond from Philadelphia, USA / Wikimedia
Shelter Island, New York

Shelter Island has become more popular recently, following the renovation of an 1872 inn with 37 rooms – suddenly there is somewhere to stay! This Long Island Beach has summer visitors who rented or owned a house locally – or day visitors before that.

It is a small island covering only 27 square miles but offers plenty of things to do.

Get some exercise hiking along the trails, kayaking, cycling or just relax with some birdwatching.

If you are simply going to relax and take in the sun, it’s a fine spot to do just that – there will be no one to argue with you.

13. Robert Moses State Park, Fire Island

Robert Moses State ParkSource: Joe Trentacosti / shutterstock
Robert Moses State Park

Fire Island is worth the effort.

Your journey will involve a train, shuttle, and ferry but once you arrive at Robert Moses State Park, you will see that the effort was worth it.

It’s a very casual and laid-back place – barefoot is the order of the day.

It is a very family-friendly beach and if you want to explore, hire a bike and take in the scenery.

The lighthouse is a place of interest among the dunes and you are allowed to climb to the top where you will get stunning views.

There are camping facilities available if you decide to stay for a few days.

14. Orchard Beach, Bronx

Orchard Beach, BronxSource: dandeluca / Flickr
Orchard Beach, Bronx

Orchard Beach on Pelham Bay is the Bronx’s only public beach, so don’t expect it to be quiet when the weather is good – everyone will have the same idea as you.

Weekends are obviously the busiest time, but midweek should find it less crowded.

The waters are generally calm and shallow.

You may be surprised by this, but Orchard Beach is actually manmade.

It was created in the 1930’s in an area of lovely forests with views of City Island.

There are nature trails to follow, and, although the food on sale tends to lack imagination, you won’t go hungry.

15. Asbury Park, Jersey Shore

Asbury Park, Jersey ShoreSource: Erin Cadigan / shutterstock
Asbury Park, Jersey Shore

Bruce Springsteen helped make Asbury Park famous – it was the name of his debut LP in 1972. It’s a great place for a day by the sea, whether you want to dine or just relax.

There are plenty of sandy areas for the kids to play in.

Walk down the boardwalk, enjoy the restaurants and shopping – antiques and retail – and the art galleries.

If you are staying over, there is plenty of nightlife.

On the first Saturday of each month, everything stays open late.

The Oyster Festival and Jazz Festival have become special annual events attracting large crowds.

15 Best Beaches in New York:

  • Coney Island, Brooklyn
  • Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn
  • Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
  • Midland Beach, Staten Island
  • Long Beach, Nassau County
  • Sandy Hook, Gateway National Recreation Area, Jersey
  • Fort Tilden Beach, Queens
  • Jacob Riis Park Beach, Queens
  • Rockaway Beach, Queens
  • Main Beach, East Hampton
  • Montauk, Long Island
  • Shelter Island, Suffolk County
  • Robert Moses State Park, Fire Island
  • Orchard Beach, Bronx
  • Asbury Park, Jersey Shore