Whether you’re an avid surfer, professional sand castle builder, or just a big fan of the sun, come summer, we’re all dreaming about escaping to the beach. And for those of us who hail from an urban jungle, slipping into a serene seaside is doubly euphoric. From outer borough beaches to nudie shores, these nine stretches of coastline have something in common: they can all be reached from Manhattan and NYC without a car.
1. Sandy Hook, New Jersey
Features: Nearly 2,000 acres of peninsula, fishing, the oldest surviving lighthouse in the United States, views of the Manhattan skyline.
Cost: $40 round trip, free beach admission
Travel Time: 45 minutes
How to get there: Take the Seastreak Ferry from Pier 11, Wall Street. Visit sandy-hook.com for more info.
2. Robert Moses Beach, Long Island
Features: Five miles of pristine coastline, an 18-hole pitch-and-putt golf course, various amenities (food, grilling and picnic areas, bathhouses), surfing, fewer crowds than Jones Beach. Nude beach east of Field 5 at Lighthouse Beach.
Cost: $19 train and bus fare round trip (with LIRR package), free beach admission
Travel Time: 1hr 30 minutes
How to get there: From Penn Station, take the LIRR to Babylon Station. Head downstairs to catch the S-47 Suffolk Bus, which will bring you to Robert Moses State Park Field 3 in about 20 minutes. See our article on Robert Moses Beach for more details.
3. Water Taxi Beach on Governors Island
Features: It’s brand new, you’re on a beach but can still see your beloved city, volleyball, outdoor grill with local beer braised beef short ribs, live music lineup including Erykah Badu, Judy Collins, and Mos Def.
Cost: Free ferry ride, free beach admission
Travel Time: 5 minute ferry ride from downtown Manhattan
How to get there: The free Governors Island Ferry leaves from Slip 7 at the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan, at the corner of South and Whitehall Streets. Visit the website for more details (which say no swimming allowed).
4. Ditch Plains, Montauk, Long Island
Features: Excellent surfing, great quesadillas and lemonade at concession stand Ditch Witch. For families looking for an adventurous bike trip, read our article on Biking Montauk.
Cost: $40 round trip LIRR ticket, Free admission
Travel Time: 3 hours to Montauk
How to get there: Take the LIRR to Montauk. See our article on surfing in Montauk for more details and specific directions.
5. Fire Island, Long Island
Features: Few crowds, 150-year-old Fire Island Lighthouse, family-friendly, tennis courts, cute nearby town.
Cost: $34 LIRR beach package round trip
Travel Time: 2 hours
How to get there: Through September 1st, take the LIRR to Bay Shore Station and board a David Brothers Taxi to the Fire Island Ferries. Lighthouse admission is included in special LIRR package. To explore ethnically diverse shores like Cherry Grove, visit fireisland.com.
6. Rockaway Beach, Queens
Features: Surfing, cheap, boardwalk
Cost: $2.25 subway ride; free beach admission
Travel Time: 1.5 hrs
How to get there: Take the A train to Broad Channel, transfer to the S to Rockaway Park-Beach 116th St. Visit nycgovparks.org/parks/rockawaybeach.
7. Atlantic City, Mississippi Avenue, and the Boardwalk
Features: Fishing, The Beach Bar at Trump Plaza, gambling, surfing, biking, people watching.
Travel Time: 2 hrs 30 minutes
Cost: $60 round-trip train ride, free beach admission
How to get there: Consult oM’s public transit guide to AC for various car-free options. Visit atlanticcitynj.com for more information.
8. Orchard Beach, Bronx
Features: Only public beach in the Bronx, animated crowds on weekends, 1 mile of beach, 26 courts for tennis, paddleball, and basketball, a hexagonal-block promenade, a pavilion stocked with food and specialty shops, two playgrounds, two picnic areas, canoe or hike around the bay, peaceful weekday escape.
Cost: $2.25 subway fare, free beach admission
Travel Time: Roughly 35 minutes from midtown
How to get there: Take 6 train to Pelham Bay Park then transfer to the Bx29 bus to Orchard Beach. Visit nycgovparks.org/parks/pelhambaypark/ for more info.
9. Long Beach, Long Island
Features: Surfing (check the waves), two-mile boardwalk, ocean swimming
Cost: $19 round trip with LIRR package, $10 beach pass
Travel Time: 1 hr 15 minutes
How to get there: Take the LIRR train from Penn Station to Long Beach Station. The beach is a short walk east, then south.
View Beaches Near NYC (without a car) in a larger map