The beach at Coney Island, circa 1960.
Photo: Harvey Meston/Getty Images
It’s commonly understood that the best way to explore a new place is to go straight to the locals. Each week in the Urbanist, we take that wisdom one step further by seeking out not just locals but local experts — those who are especially well versed in their cities’ newest and most noteworthy scenes — to give us insider tips. This week, we asked Bianca Buchanan, a dental hygienist who has been going to various local beaches — often multiple times a week — every summer for the past 16 years, for her recommendations on the city’s best beaches and the best ways to visit them.
“For a less crowded Rockaways experience, head east. The area around Beach 86th Street is constantly packed, and the high 60s are surfing-only beaches where it’s not safe to swim. So I tend to gravitate toward the beaches in the low 60s. They’re chill and filled with local teenagers and families. There’s a sprinkling of hipster-y people but minimally. Street parking is fairly easy to come by, but you could also take the A to Beach 60th Street, then walk. If I feel like getting food when I’m there, I’ll grab a bike (there are electric ones from Lime all over the place) and head east to this Caribbean spot DredSurfer Grill, which is on Beach 17th Street. And this season, I’ll probably go to Locals Collective, a café that was just opened by the guys who own the surf school on Beach 69th — it has smoothies and such.”
What to Bring
A canopy in use at Fort Tilden.
Photo: Keith Getter/Getty Images
“And wherever you go, replace your Sport-Brella with a lightweight canopy. Sport-Brella half-tents are great for sun protection but are too heavy and big. My advice is to buy a portable canopy from a brand called Neso. It looks like a tarp with four empty sandbags on the corners, which you fill once you get to the beach. Empty, it weighs four pounds, it’s great in the wind, and it stays cool underneath. And bring a flag. So your friends can find you — especially at beaches like Tilden, where there’s no cell service. A beach flag shows you’re a serious beachgoer: It says, “I’m here. Find me.”
*A version of this article appears in the June 10, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!