Every summer since I moved in Los Angeles, I go back to New York to visit family, friends and community. New York will always be home: it is the city that raised me as a woman and it truly comes alive in the summer. I intentionally left New York City three years ago for an amalgam of reasons mostly involving burnout, cost of living and weather. The joy I got from the constant grind was long gone. The cost of “success” no longer felt worth it especially as I accomplished most of the goals I set for myself. And the rent was too damn high.
Despite all that emo turmoil, fuck winter. Winter always felt like impending doom. But it’s what you deal with as a New Yorker. It builds your grit! (meh) Trudging through piss-covered snow and murky sidewalk pools of slush in awkward, foot-binding rubber boots and a North Face sleeping bag/parka for four months out of the year somehow lost its appeal.
Therefore I strategically plan my New York travels in June before it’s too humid and while summer still feels fresh with maximum potential for shenanigans. I also make sure I do new things while I’m there (to rekindle the relationship) as well as hit up my old haunts. This trip I was hellbent on getting to the beach, and was particularly obsessed with getting to the Rockaways. Blame it on the Gram.
I whined about needing proper beach time (and the 2 hour A-train ride) to my bestie and she told me about the magical Rockaway Beach Ferry. It was even enough to entice her to make the trip from the Bronx. Ferry service just started this spring making hourly trips on weekends from Wall Street to Rockaway Beach-108th Street (some of the ferries stop at Sunset Park in Brooklyn). The ferries run more regularly on weekdays for commuters so if you have a midweek day off, you’ll avoid the long lines.
Speaking of long lines, me and bestie went on a Sunday arriving to Wall Street around noon. A line of at least a hundred people had already formed for people to get on the next ferry. (Pro-tip: Get there early if you’re trying to have a full beach day because the ride takes an hour.) We waited patiently, and then a woman from the MTA came around and told us that we would have to wait for the following ferry (at 1:30pm). I left the line because I can’t sit still, and was hungry and antsy. Of course once I left and ordered food, a ferry arrived and I ran through the cobblestone streets of the Financial District in flip-flops only to watch them close the gate as I arrived.
Learn from me: DON’T LEAVE THE FERRY LINE FOR ANYTHING. There is food when you get to the Rockaways, and bathrooms at the dock AND on the ferry. I was mad af making amateur travel mistakes (full moon lessons y’all) but shout out to bestie for loving me for my madness and being chill when I’m not. Another pro-tip: download the NYC Ferry app where you can purchase your tickets in advance, they only cost $2.75 one way and add a $1 if you want to bring your bike. But make sure you bring a portable charger so your phone doesn’t die!
Here’s some of the views from the ferry ride which is a pretty dope way to see many of the tourist sites like the Statue of Liberty without actually having to visit them. (You should totally go to Coney Island but this view was so dope!)
Once you arrive at 108th Street in Rockaway, it’s a quick 5 minute walk to the beach. There’s bagel shops, dope street art (below!)and a Rite-Aid for your beer or sunscreen needs. So again, get your butt on the ferry because anything you need is already there. It’s the Rockaways, not Mars.
Make a day of it! Or an afternoon of it! We got there around 3 and left on the last ferry back to the city at 8:30pm. We had plenty of beach babe time to lay in the sand and to get DELICIOUS arepas for the road. Make time for arepas at Caracas (the one below is plantain, black bean, cheese and avocado and tasted like heaven). Too bad their frozen sangria wasn’t to go…
Final pro-tip: get to the ferry dock at least 45 minutes early to make sure you make that ferry. We saw a bunch of folks get left and I know from experience, it sucks.
Also, you’ll miss this: