In the spirit of the New Year and all that comes with it, using exercise to stay fit and relieve stress is a top priority. This is especially true for residents of NYC, considered by some the most stressed out city in the nation. Although it is easier to stay fit and get outside during the summer, I am one of the approximately 50 New Yorkers who prefer to hit the Rockaway Beach waves during winter months.Rockaway Beach during the winter is a completely different place than during the summertime. There are no crowds during winter, hardly any surfers in the water, the waves are much better, and the likelihood of swimming close to a great white shark goes down. Sure, being in nearly freezing water takes some getting used to (ask members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club!), but a 5mm-thick wetsuit, gloves, boots, and hood help keep me warm enough until paddling and catching waves gets my heart and adrenaline pumping. Wetsuits inhibit flexibility, so winter surfing isn’t recommended for beginners.
If you’re interested in surfing at Rockaway Beach, now or in the summer, here are some tips:
- Check the waves at surfline.com or magicseaweed.com; waves in the 3-4 foot+ range are what you want.
- Get to the beach by jumping on the L and switching at Broadway Junction for the A train; head to 67th or 80th Streets for the best surfing spots
- If you’re serious about learning in the winter, reach out to Frank at New York Surf School, who will hook you up with a teacher during the winter months. Believe it or not, Frank gets up to a dozen new students every week during the winter, but this is still 97% fewer than the number he gets during the summer, when almost 500 people take lessons with his team every week. During the summer, there are plenty of surf schools to choose from.
- Be sure to eat at one of the excellent local restaurants, all of which serve delicious food.
Even if you decide to never surf in NYC, it’s worth checking out the surf culture in Rockaway Beach. You’ll feel like you’re not in New York City anymore; see what I mean by watching this video. And if you really can’t be bothered to visit Rockaway Beach for some fresh air and relaxation, at least pop into these Soho and Williamsburg surf stores where the relaxed vibe will take away your busy-city blues for at least a few moments.