18 Best Beaches in New York For Sun and Sand

Last Updated on July 03, 2023 by Nikki Jain

New York City is famed for being a bustling hub of activity. The skyline is dominated by scrapers. The ground level is packed with restaurants, clubs, stores, and evidence of NYC being a major cultural hub.

People travel from all over the world to soak up NYC. People rarely say they are traveling to experience New York beaches, which is a massive shame.

NYC's beaches are brilliant. A great place to break away from the hustle and bustle of the city and a great place to relax and enjoy yourself.

We can't wait to tell you about the 18 best beaches in New York.

Best New York Beaches

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1: Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

When NYC residents want New York beach vacations, they head to Brighton Beach. Brighton Beach is a bustling neighborhood, just a short hop from Coney Island.

This is why NYC residents love it so much. They get to stay near Coney Island, but they don't have to put up with all that noise.

While this sandy beach can get packed with people during the summer months, it is always tranquil.

You don't have tons of people doing noisy watersports. You just have swimmers and sunbathers, all there to enjoy the warm Atlantic Ocean.

Brighton Beach is one of our favorite New York beach towns because it is a literal cultural hub.

If you step away from the beach for a short while, you will find yourself mingling with the largest Russian immigrant community in NYC.

If you haven't tried Russian food and drink, then you really should. There is no better place in the US for it.

When you want to take a break from Brighton Beach, New York Aquarium is just a short distance away. Couple of minutes by subway or taxi.

Address: Brighton Beach Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11235

2: Coney Island, Brooklyn

Coney Island, Brooklyn
Dreamstime/Jon Bilous

Coney Island may not be one of the best beaches in New York City for beauty, but it is the best beach for fun.

Even the guy that markets Coney Island claims Coney Island isn't a pristine beach but one where you go if you want to absorb yourself in proper New York culture.

Hordes of New Yorkers constantly descend on Coney Island to enjoy the sand, waves, and the massive amusement park located right next to it. 

Coney Island's main attraction isn't the beach but the Luna Park amusement park and boardwalk next to it. Non-New Yorkers, especially international travelers, will have seen Luna Park featured in all sorts of movies.

It's the one with grand wooden rollercoasters that have really managed to stand the test of time. The boardwalk has a great collection of shops and restaurants. Luna Park is paid entry, but the boardwalk is free to roam about.

Coney Island is a very children-focused beach, especially during the summer. So, bring your kids along for a bit of fun.

Lots happen, especially on the boardwalk. Adults can enjoy all sorts of watersports, one of the best being jet ski tours around the place.

Pack a picnic and make the most of this beautiful NY beach.

Address: 1208 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224

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Planning a trip to New York soon? Check out the top NYC attractions and New York State attractions

3: Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn

Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn

Manhattan Beach is just around the corner from Brighton Beach, and we suppose Coney Island too.

This is nowhere near one of the most famous beaches in New York City. There isn't a whole lot going on, with most people opting to head to one of the other countless nearby beaches.

However, this is why we love Manhattan Beach. It is almost always empty. It is one of the best beaches in New York when you really want to get away from everybody and everything.

Even during the summer, there seems to only be a smattering of people across the white, sandy shores.

Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn is especially popular with families. You have the nearby Manhattan Beach Park, which offers a ton of space for children to run around and enjoy nature.

There are even designated BBQ areas for those that want to cook up a storm during those long, warm days. Of course, you can even BBQ on the beach (make sure you follow all the rules!).

Outside of that, there isn't a whole lot going on. This is one of the good beaches in New York, but not a wildly popular beach.

It helps to keep the people away, but you can't do much on the beach other than enjoy the sun and sand and perhaps play a game of beach volleyball.

Address: Oriental Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11235

4: Ocean Beach Park, Long Beach

Ocean Beach Park, Long Beach
Dreamstime/Jon Bilous

You will need to put in a bit of effort to reach Ocean Beach Park, but since it is one of the best New York Beaches, it is 100% worth the effort.

You will need to hop on a ferry to Fire Island. It can be tough to find one running at a regular schedule outside of the summer, though.

After a quick ferry ride, you will be in Ocean Beach. It is a tiny community, and you couldn't be further removed from the NYC hubbub. It is a very, very peaceful way of life here.

Because it takes a decent chunk of time to get there, the pristine white beaches are underutilized, so even when it is warm out, you should have a decent chunk of space to yourself.

The Ocean Beach community pours a lot of love into keeping Ocean Beach Park in pristine condition.

There are a lot of rules to follow when you are on the beach, but those rules make the beach great for everybody. Even radios are banned here, as are frisbees.

This means you don't have to worry about awful music blasting when trying to soak up the rays, nor do you need to worry about having a frisbee smack you in the head when you are just trying to enjoy your day.

No noisy watersports here either. Ocean Beach Park is about surfing and windsurfing, with a dash of fishing and boating thrown in for good measure.

So come experience breathtaking views, an abundance of activities, and an unforgettable summer at one of New York's best beaches.

Address: 300 W Broadway, Long Beach, NY 11561

5: Fort Tilden Beach, Queens

Fort Tilden Beach, Queens
Flickr/Jeff Easter

If you want a beach that is a real challenge to get to, then it is Fort Tilden Beach. Many people regard this as the great 'undiscovered' beach of New York City.

You can't get there by subway. Other public transportation options are limited. If you want to enjoy Fort Tilden Beach, then you either walk or cycle to it.

As you can imagine, this keeps most people away from the beach. This means that even during the summer months, it remains empty.

Fort Tilden Beach hasn't always been open to the public. Not too long ago, it was a military encampment. There are still remnants of that scattered around (no unexploded explosives, don't worry!), but the local community has worked hard to spruce up the place.

Now you have one of the best undiscovered pretty beaches in New York, surrounded by hiking trails and recreational areas.

This may just be one of the best beaches in New York for families that love to enjoy the great outdoors. When you are done with the beach, you have nature right there on your doorstep. 

Don't head to Fort Tilden Beach expecting the greatest beach in the world. It isn't. Don't head to Fort Tilden Beach to enjoy all sorts of water-based activities. There aren't that many of them.

Do head to Fort Tilden Beach to enjoy a beautiful part of Queens that barely anybody heads to. Just prepare for a long trek there.

Address: Center Rd, Queens, NY 11697

6: Midland Beach, Staten Island

Midland Beach, Staten Island

Despite Midland Beach being a great beach for the kiddos, one of the most popular parts of the area isn't actually on the beach at all. It is just a short walk away.

This is Turtle Fountain, which is pretty much what it says on the tin; a fountain made from a turtle statue. Bafflingly, despite children having the Atlantic Ocean just feet away, they love to run through the fountain for hours on end (don't worry, this is allowed).

If you are able to drag your children away from the turtle fountain for even a short while, you have a great beach to enjoy.

Midland Beach is right next to South Beach (we will discuss that one a bit later on). However, because Midland Beach has a bit less going on, it is rarely crowded.

Even during the summer months, most people head to South Beach, often leaving those lounging about on the shores of Midland with plenty of space to stretch out.

The beach has a couple of beach volleyball courts set up, as well as some great swimming. That's about it on the entertainment front. Although, feel free to walk toward the nearby boardwalk if you want something a bit more stimulating.

For us, Midland Beach is one of the best places on Staten Island to just relax. No other beach in the area offers that. So, if you want space to clear your head and perhaps pick up a tan, make a beeline for Midland.

Address: Staten Island, NY 10305

7: Jacob Riis Park Beach, Queens

Jacob Riis Park Beach, Queens
Dreamstime/Jon Bilous

In recent years, Jacob Riis Park Beach has gone through a resurgence. For a while, most people preferred Rockaway Beach, which is a wonderful beach of course.

Jacob Riis Park Beach was left in the lurch. A shame, really! The land was purchased with the intention of creating the best beach resort in New York, but it didn't quite catch on.

By the 1970s, nobody wanted to touch Jacon Riis Park Beach, so it was brought under government ownership.

Nowadays, Jacob Riis Park Beach has become famed among NYC's LGBTQ community, which is incredibly strong.

It does manage to attract a few families too, especially those that don't feel like braving the packed Rockaway Beach, especially when the sun has appeared for the day.

There isn't a huge amount to do at Jacob Riis Park Beach, although we have heard stories of dolphin pods swimming close by throughout the year.

For now, you can just relax at the second quietest beach in Queens and perhaps look at the gorgeous Art Deco buildings that dominate the area.

These buildings are a testament to the history of Jacob Riis Park Beach and a hint that perhaps when this beach was first conceived, the planners didn't quite have the right idea. People didn't want these buildings. They just wanted a place to relax. Luckily, they have that now.

Address: Rockaway Point Boulevard, Queens, NY 11694

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8: Rockaway Beach, Queens

Rockaway Beach, Queens
Dreamstime/John Penney

Rockaway Beach was the title of one of the more famous Ramones songs. For most people, this is the first time they have ever heard of Rockaway Beach.

That song pretty much tells you the history of Rockaway Beach too. Not too long ago, Rockaway Beach was the gathering point for punk culture and hipsters in New York City.

They still descend there far more than on other beaches. However, Rockaway Beach has pivoted toward something more family-friendly in recent years.

With 6 miles of beach, Rockaway Beach is the largest urban beach in the United States. All pristine, white sand. This is truly one of the most beautiful New York Beaches.

It is incredibly easy to reach too, with the subway being a short distance from the actual shoreline, and if you feel like walking in from downtown, it takes under an hour.

Plenty to do once you arrive at Rockaway Beach too. This place is always a hotbed of activity, even during the off-season. The boardwalk is famed for its stores, restaurants, and activities.

The beaches offer some of the best surfing opportunities in the city. In fact, the New York Surf School operates from Rockaway Beach.

If you just want to relax, then you can do that too! While Rockaway Beach is the busiest beach in Queens, it never really feels like it.

You can thank the 6 miles of beach for that. Even when it gets busy, there is still space to move around and do your thing.

Address: Beach 3rd Street and Boardwalk, Queens, NY 11693

9: Main Beach, East Hampton

Main Beach, East Hampton
Dreamstime/James Kirkikis

Main Beach in East Hampton is proof of how great New York City beaches can be. In fact, this is not only one of the best white sand beaches in New York but is regularly voted as one of the best beaches in the United States. Not bad for something that is not too far from a sprawling metropolis, right?

Because Main Beach is located in one of the most exclusive parts of New York City, it has a charm that most other beaches in the area don't have. Oh, and a hefty parking fee.

This is one of the more expensive beaches to visit. Although it serves to keep the beach relatively unoccupied during the warmer months of the year, it ensures that Main Beach remains one of the cleanest beaches in the world.

There are some great surfing opportunities in the Main Beach area, but most people lounge around here to catch the rays.

Even the celebs head to Main Beach on occasion. Occasionally, you can hobble over to the concession stands that boast great food and drink.

This may not be a great place to bring kids, but it is certainly a fantastic place for couples who want to relax.

Address: 101 Ocean Avenue, East Hampton, NY 11937

10: Ditch Plains Beach, Montauk

Ditch Plains Beach, Montauk
Dreamstime/James Kirkikis

While you can swim around Ditch Plains Beach, it is probably best for surfers and paddleboarders.

Throughout the year, you will barely find a moment where a particularly adventurous watersports lover is trying to ride the waves at Ditch Plains Beach.

The only problem with Ditch Plains Beach is that it isn't an excellent place for tourists. Well, not unless they are surfing. You probably wouldn't want to go out of your way to get here.

It is a small beach that is a good 3 hours drive from the center of New York City. Although, this does help to keep the beach underpopulated, giving you plenty of space to do your thing.

Surfers and paddleboarders probably wouldn't mind making the drive, especially since it allows them to interact with their own kind.

There isn't much going on at Ditch Plains Beach outside of surfing and swimming, but we like it.

This beach really feels like you are in the heart of nature and have some epic hiking trails nearby. It isn't so utterly detached from everything, though. For much of the year, Ditch Plains Beach has lifeguards working there.

Address: Ditch Plains Road, Montauk, NY 11954

11: Jones Beach State Park, Wantagh

Jones Beach State Park, Wantagh

Every year, 6 million people head to the 6.5-mile sprawling Jones Beach State Park. Not surprising, really.

This is a heavily-developed New York beach, supposedly with the design of cruise liners considered when making it.

Jones Beach State Park is covered with all sorts of stunning buildings, providing services for the hordes of tourists and New Yorkers who love to while their days away on this relatively calm beach.

Perhaps our favorite, and the most noticeable, is the Jones Beach Water Tower. As you approach the beach, you can't help but spot this beautiful piece of architecture.

Everything about Jones Beach State Park has been lovingly designed. Even something as simple as the bathhouses were crafted by some of the best architects in the world.

Because of the amount of income that the 6 million people journeying to the area bring in, there is enough to fund the upkeep of all these buildings too.

There is a lot to do at Jones Beach State Park. If you can name a beach-related activity, then you can probably do it here. The area has gone to huge lengths to ensure most of it is ADA-friendly too.

If you are in New York for Memorial Day weekend, head to Jones Beach State Park. An already alive beach comes even more alive then. The Bethpage Air Show runs in the area, and you get to enjoy some incredible aircraft while soaking up the rays.

This really is one of the best New York beaches for everyone. 

Address: 1 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh, NY 11793

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Also Read: 25 Best State Parks to Visit in the US

12: Orchard Beach, Bronx

Orchard Beach, Bronx
Flickr/Dan DeLuca

The Bronx has a few beaches in the area, but Orchard Beach is the only public one and one of the most captivating beaches in New York.

It is just 1.1 miles long, so it does get crowded in the summer months, particularly with children. So, if you are after a family beach, Orchard Beach in the Bronx may be great for you.

The beach is particularly famed for its crescent shape. It forms a bay, which helps to keep the water very calm. This isn't so great for watersports, but perfect for swimmers.

Somewhat surprisingly, there isn't a massive number of stores in the area. Those relaxing on Orchard Beach will have to make do with the nearby concession stands. However, don't let that put you off of a visit to the beach.

We wouldn't have included Orchard Beach on this list if we didn't think it was a great place to spend your time relaxing.

Address: Orchard Beach Road and Park Drive, Bronx, NY 10464

13: South Beach, Staten Island

South Beach, Staten Island

No list of good beaches in New York would be complete without South Beach.

South Beach has been dubbed the 'Riviera of New York City'. This sprawling beach offers blue water swimming and light watersports.

A boardwalk is nearby for those that want to take a break from the heat. Those relaxing on the beach can enjoy a scenic view of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which works surprisingly well in those New York beach vacation photos. 

While South Beach is loved by swimmers, it is loved by sea fishers even more. South Beach boasts the largest fishing pier in this area, and throughout the year, you will see countless people trying to reel in their latest catch.

If you want to try your hand at fishing, then you will find plenty of people to advise you. Of course, you could also just rock up with your own rod and a bit of knowledge, and you may nab something yourself.

Although, what you would do with it if you were a tourist is anybody's guess. We can't imagine many hotels would let you take your catch back there!

Address: Father Capodanno Boulevard and Sand Lane, Staten Island, NY 10305

14: Wades Beach, Shelter Island

Wades Beach, Shelter Island

While Wades Beach may be right next to a large urban area, it never really feels like it. Wades Beach is incredibly calm, even during the summer months.

It rarely attracts tourists, with most people heading to Wades Beach coming from the local area.

Most tourists head to one of the other beaches on Shelter Island, but we haven't included those on this list of the best beaches in New York because Wades Beach genuinely is the best.

Wades Beach is known for its calm, tranquil waters and sandy shore. Families enjoy bringing their children here because they know they will be safe as long as they keep a watchful eye on them. You will also find many paddleboarders who are learning their craft on the beach.

While Wades Beach has people on it throughout the day, it comes to life at night during summer.

It isn't uncommon for people to light controlled fires on the beach, party, and enjoy great BBQ food. So, even if you don't have children in tow, you may have some fun here as the sun sets.

Address: 114 S Midway Rd, Shelter Island, NY 11964

15: Atlantique Beach, Fire Island

Atlantique Beach, Fire Island
Dreamstime/Scott Heaney

Atlantique Beach is one of Fire Island's unique gems.

At just 875 feet long, Atlantique Beach may be the shortest New York beach on this list. Despite the small size, it never really feels crowded, either.

Situated next to the Fire Island community of Atlantique, it doesn't attract many tourists. Most of them tend to head to other places on Fire Island.

It is more the domain of the locals, who are incredibly friendly to anybody who comes here.

Don't expect tons of amenities at Atlantique Beach. Do expect beautiful white sands and a perfect environment.

Atlantique Beach is used very often by boaters. There is a sizeable marina nearby, and during the summer months, many boaters arrive and explore Atlantique, with many of them eventually finding themselves on the beach.

Visitors can also enjoy nightly outdoor concerts at The Pavilion on Sullivan Park or take part in one of the many lively festivals that happen throughout the season.

Address: Atlantique, Fire Island, NY 11770

16: Robert Moses State Park - Fire Island

Robert Moses State Park - Fire Island
Dreamstime/James Kirkikis

Robert Moses was responsible for developing many beaches around New York City. This 5-mile beach, located right at the western tip of Fire Island, is named in tribute to him.

This is one of the more popular beaches on Fire Island, with 3-4 million people heading here each year.

We love the sea around Robert Moses State Park, but we love the surrounding nature even more. Relax here; it isn't uncommon to see herds of deer darting through the area.

Many of them are comfortable with tourists, so you can even snap a few photos (from a distance).

The sandy beach also stretches beyond the actual shoreline, with certain parts of Robert Moses State Park being sandy areas surrounded by trees.

So, if you want a break and want to relax in a much more secluded location, Robert Moses offers that.

Surfing and surf-fishing are the most common watersports at Robert Moses State Park, but you can experience a bit of everything.

Address: Robert Moses Causeway, Fire Island, NY 11702

17: Barrett Beach Park - Fire island

Barrett Beach Park - Fire island
Dreamstime/Jon Bilous

Until 2001, Barrett Beach Park was a downtrodden beach area on Fire Island. Tourists enjoyed visiting the other beaches around Fire Island, but Barrett Beach Park was left in the lurch.

After a severe funding spree in 2001, Barrett Beach Park underwent extensive redevelopment, and it is now one of the best beaches in New York with clear water. 

One of the exciting things about Barrett Beach Park is that even the Fire Island tourist board lets people know that there isn't anything going on here. You have bathrooms, and that's about it.

This isn't supposed to be a beach where you enjoy bustling activities. It is a beach where you can relax in a very secluded part of an insanely busy area.

That being said, it is still a great place to bring the family during the summer months. The park rangers run various educational courses, including safe swimming, collecting shells, and more.

Address: Fire Island, NY 11706

18: Asbury Park, Jersey Shore

Asbury Park, Jersey Shore

Asbury Park is a small city located on Jersey Shore. This place has played a significant role in music history, with the likes of Bruce Springsteen hailing from the area and spending his early days playing at one of the many clubs.

If you are in Asbury Park, you can still see that. It is a great place to enjoy the NYC music scene. Perfect if you want a break from the beaches.

The Asbury Park beach is just a mile long but perfect for those craving sun, sand, and entertainment. The Asbury Park local government has poured a ton of investment into the area, and you will never be short of things to do.

A boardwalk is close by, packed with some of the best shops and restaurants on the Jersey Shore. On the beach, you can enjoy relaxed swimming opportunities. Tons of surfers, paddleboards, and fishermen enjoy the waters just off the shore.

Nearby, there are even more activities. Live music, children's playgrounds, and even waterparks. You will never be short of things to do at Asbury Park.

Address: 1300 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

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FAQs about New York beaches

Which is the clearest water beach in New York?

Fort Tilden is famed for having some of the clearest water in New York. It even regularly wins awards for being one of the cleanest beaches in the area.

What is the prettiest beach in New York?

All of the beaches around New York look decent. The prettiest beach is very subjective. Some people find the seclusion of Fort Tilden stunning, and others enjoy the surrounding nature of Robert Moses State Park. Main Beach in East Hampton is our choice for beautiful beaches, though.

Does New York have white-sand beaches?

Yes. Most of the top New York beaches have white sand. Some are peppered with a few rocks, but most are pristine, white sand beaches.

Wrapping up: Best New York Beaches

There are a lot of great beaches in New York City. Lots of them. Head toward the shoreline, and we reckon you won't have a tough time finding some great place to lounge about.

However, if you are looking for the best of the best, anywhere on our list of the best New York beaches is a great place to start. We made sure we included a little something for everybody.

So, whether you are a family looking to enjoy a plethora of activities, or a surfer looking to catch some waves, there is something for you on that list.

Remember, do more research into these places before heading out on a beach vacation in New York City. Some have limited operating hours throughout the year!

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