We're well into our third pandemic summer and, thankfully, after that long omicron winter and dreary BA.2 spring, Rockaway Beach, NYC's best subway (and ferry) beach, is open for business.

Well, kind of.

The boardwalk concessions are open, but a lot of the actual, physical beach part of Rockaway Beach got off to a rocky start. Like, literally, there are tons of huge rocks everywhere, due to some necessary if perhaps unfortunately timed jetty construction. But as work progresses, the beach closures have changed. Below, we have the latest, per the NYC Parks Department.

Restaurants and amenities at Rockaway Beach

This is what "sand and recreation" looks like

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This is what "sand and recreation" looks like
Scott Lynch/Gothamist

What to know about the Rockaway Beach closures

Some parts of the beach will be open for swimming and others just for sunbathing. The parts of the beach that are fully or partially closed are not staffed with lifeguards, a decision that local lifeguards have called a recipe for disaster. Two people have drowned at Rockaway Beach so far this year.

The Parks Department published a schedule of summer beach closings, which will update as the construction progresses. Here’s what’s open right now:

Swimming and sand access

  • Beach 9-13
  • Beach 16-18
  • Beach 32-36
  • Beach 59-65
  • Beach 69-86
  • Beach 94-106
  • Beach 117-145 (Through July)
  • Beach 121-140

Sand access only (no swimming):

  • Beach 13-16
  • Beach 18-32
  • Beach 36-38
  • Beach 65-69
  • Beach 88-93
  • Beach 107-109
  • Beach 145-149

No access until July:

  • Beach 39-58 (Endangered shorebird nesting area)
  • Beach 109-116
Restaurants and amenities at Rockaway Beach

Heavy construction equipment

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Heavy construction equipment
Scott Lynch/Gothamist

Where to eat at Rockaway Beach

Open ocean or not, up on the boardwalk, and inland — by which we mean a block or two away — there are loads of excellent things to eat out here. If you want to take advantage of all that beach heading toward Belle Harbor, take the MTA shuttle to the end of line, Beach 116th Street. All our favorite spots are saved in this Google map, which you can use to guide you when you’re down there.

Beach 116th

There are a number of generic delis between the subway and the sand over here, where you can get an okay sandwich and a bag of chips for a picnic. Pickles and Pie has the best name and most colorful sign, but their food is indistinguishable from less flashy spots on the strip. Other options on Beach 116th include Meat Up Grill for burgers, the venerable slice shop Ciro's for pizza, and Carvel for some bland, frozen nostalgia. And for all you health nuts, there's a slick new smoothie and acai-bowl shop called Baya Bar.

Restaurants and amenities at Rockaway Beach

The perfect breakfast: A-faux-cado Toast and a Height of Passion smoothie, from Brothers

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The perfect breakfast: A-faux-cado Toast and a Height of Passion smoothie, from Brothers
Scott Lynch/Gothamist

Beach 106th

The concession stand at Beach 106th may not have official ocean access right now — there's a chain link fence between it and the sand, though this can be easily scooted around — but it does have two of the best places out here for breakfast, lunch, drinks, and dinner. Those crazy hippies at Brothers are back with their unimprovable menu of amazing sandwiches, like the English Muffin Egg Sandwich with pesto and the open-faced Kimchi Grilled Cheese, and four of the best smoothies I've ever had in my life.

Most of the real estate Beach 106th belongs to Maribel Araujo's great Caracas Arepa Bar, with its jaw-stretching headliners (the De Pabellón, overflowing with shredded beef, black beans, cotija, and fried sweet plantains, is the stuff of legends), zippy empanadas and, finally, alcohol again.

Despite the ill-timed beach closing, Araujo is psyched for this summer. "I think it's going to be awesome," she said. "We had a great start, Saturday was insane, like a totally packed summer day, and we have our liquor license back in place. Everyone was in great spirits. When it's hot, New Yorkers want to get to the beach, and they're going to find a way to do that, so Parks is going to have to deal with it. It's the people's beach!"

Beach 97th

The biggest change this summer is at the Beach 97th concession stand. Not so much with the vendors, with personal favorites like the wood-fired pies at Seany Pizza, the peerless Peruvian seafood snacks at La Cevicheria, the chowder and lobster rolls at Red Hook Lobster Pound, and the vegan delights at La Fruteria all returning in force. But the space itself underwent a complete renovation, to be unveiled this weekend, and word on the street is that it's breezy, bright, and beautiful. Oh and the ice cream wizards of Oddfellows join the fun here, too. The plan is to keep this stand open year-round, which will be wild in, like, February.

Restaurants and amenities at Rockaway Beach

The Beach 97th concession beach, chain link fence pulled back

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The Beach 97th concession beach, chain link fence pulled back
Scott Lynch/Gothamist

Beach 96th

On Sunday afternoon I struck out at the appealing "food court" on Beach 96th. Last year's newcomer, The Cradle, a West African spot with the likes of Egusi and Efo Riro on the menu, was closed, and the kitchen at Bernadette's was deep in the weeds — they were quoting 40 minute waits for food — so I passed on my usual Bacon, Egg and Cheese here. Also not open on this strip: Gigi's gelato, right next door, and Raquel Confections, which specializes in gluten-free pastries.

Beach 92nd

The great Uzbek joint Uma's, on Beach Boulevard near Beach 92nd, had a available table on the sidewalk, so I sat down and wolfed a platter of their excellent Pelmeni — "Russian ravioli" stuffed with beef, topped with onion and yogurt sauce — which should be required eating for everyone at least once or twice every summer. And if you're looking for something cold, silly and sugary sweet, Mara's Ice Cream across the street, featuring flavors like Peanut Butter Pie, Cookie Monster, and Muddy Boots, has got you covered. Sit out back in the shady, sandy yard.

And if you want to get drunk by the bay with lots of local boaters, Bungalow Bar at the other end of Beach 92nd is the spot for you. In addition to the booze, there's a full menu of "American classics" available.

Restaurants and amenities at Rockaway Beach

Uma's famous Pelmeni platter

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Uma's famous Pelmeni platter
Scott Lynch/Gothamist

Beach 87th and 88th

Rock-n-roll burger shack Ripper's is back again at Beach 87th, and they've got their massive Hardbodies waiting for you — it's the sexiest mountain of meat on the beach — and a new little bar area inside. This place is always a party, and with that for-now rare fully open beach at its doorstep, it should be packed all summer.

Just off the boardwalk, at Beach 95th, the legendary "Irish surf bar" Connolly's is opening for the season this weekend with some new owners, but don't worry, those of you who have been coming here since 1962, they've promised not to change anything, especially not that famous Frozen Piña Colada.

A bit “inland,” hard by Beach 88th, is Tracy Oblosky's superb Rockaway Beach Bakery, now entering its sixth summer and still killing it with some of the best baked goods available anywhere in the city. If she has any Sticky Buns left when you're here, pounce (they sold out at 8:30 a.m. last Sunday), but everything else is awesome too.

And talk about old-timers: Andrew Field has already kicked off his 16th summer out here, slinging his iconic Fish Tacos to a lively crowd at Tacoway Beach, located in that funky back terrace at the Rockaway Surf Club bar on Beach 87th. I've probably eaten Field's Fish Tacos (I usually get a Chorizo one too, and a Watermelon or Pineapple drink) more than any other restaurant dish in my life, and it still hits exactly right every time. It's crisp, tangy, bright, juicy... to me, this is the taste of summer.

MAP:All of our favorite spots are in this Google Map, which you can save to your phone