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Fort Tilden: The beaches at this decommissioned military base in Queens can be tricky to get to without a car, but two wheels are good enough. Either plan for an epic two hour bike ride from Manhattan or take your bike on the B/Q train to the Sheepshead Bay / East 16 Street station (at Avenue Z). From there, it's about a 7 mile bike ride, first through relatively quiet residential streets, then on a bike path along the beaches, and finally over the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and into Fort Tilden. (Map it.) Lock your bike at a bike rack behind the bathroom across from the baseball diamonds, or pedal a little further to the beach and lock to a chain link fence by the dunes.
Sandy Hook: Hands down our favorite of this group, these public ocean-front beaches are as beautiful as they are easily accessible... for a price. $40 gets you a round trip ferry ride to New Jersey's Sandy Hook, where both family-oriented and nude beaches await. The Seastreak ferry leaves from Pier 11 & East 35th Street on the East River, and arrives at Sandy Hook about 45 minutes later.
Courtesy laverrue's Flickr