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New York City readers, what are you up to today? I am breaking my normally stringent chronological posting order because I feel really strongly that you should spend your hard-earned weekend at

Two weeks ago I took my inaugural trip to Rockaway, a stretch of 170 acres of sand in Queens, New York. In previous years my go-to urban beach fix was — who doesn’t love a little decrepit sideshow viewing, a bit of vintage Americana vibe, a dash of annual hot dog eating contests and mermaid parades and a dollop of death-trap roller coasting along with their sunbathing?

But, lured by the siren songs of long-haired surfers, a burgeoning boardwalk food-snob scene and of course the chance to roast ourselves on the beachfront, my Brooklyn besties and I gave Rockaway a try. I wore a watermelon shirt in honor of the summery occasion.

After suffering through the hell that is beach-parking on a sunny Sunday in June, we immediately made our way to the hype-fueled . My friends were extremely tickled to spot an actor from the HBO series working at a smoothie shack, meanwhile I squinted at them with the cultural incomprehension of someone reemerging into society after a year abroad. Note to self: Watch Girls, find out if watermelon shirts are still cool.

As eating Mexican food was the thing I most missed in the past year, and sitting on beaches was the highlight of it, you can imagine the ecstasy I felt at combining two of my life’s works passions.

It wasn’t the sunny beach day we had anticipated, but I actually enjoyed the moody skies and the colorful people-watching just the way they were.

When a few droplets of rain led to a hysteria-level mass scrambling-of-beach-bags, we decided to explore the boardwalk a bit.  I was a fan of the rickety seaside pathway, which was shared amicably by walkers and bikers, by Brooklyn hipsters and wannabe Jersey Shore castmates.

On our ramble we came upon Bells Beach, one of the designated surfing beaches at Rockaway. The freezing water had gotten no more than a suspicious toe-dipping from me, but these brave souls were fully submerged in nothing more than 3mm wetsuits. “Surfing” was the one association I had had with Rockaway prior to this visit, so I was pretty thrilled to see the stereotype come to life.

We worked up quite an appetite watching other peoples’ physical exertion, but lucky for us food is never far on the Boardwalk. As I mentioned earlier, Rockaway is an and we enjoyed our second meals of the day at , a seasonal outpost of the popular Williamsburg restaurant of the same name, and , a delicious and sanely priced home-made ice cream joint.

The chain reactions continued and our noshing lead to great thirst, which we were rescued from by the cheekily-named Low Tide Bar.

Low Tide Bar is where the mood shifted from Casual Day on The Sand to Fairly Frantic Rave on The Boardwalk, a shift that lasted long beyond the last lifeguards heading home and the sun sinking below the horizon. It all started with a few beer-fueled spins on the surf simulator and basically went downhill from there, making-a-spectacle-of-ourselves-wise.

It felt like such a luxury to spend a whole day with so many of my closest friends, people I say goodbye to far too often.

Why do I love them so much? Because they are the kind of people who start dance parties in the rain, eliciting the participation of our previously sedate drinking peers and random passerby’s alike.

Even the local police officers showed got in on the fun with a well-timed light and siren show. Love when you see a little humor from the people you least expect.

When it was time to head back to Brooklyn, we kept the party alive by turning our vehicle into a dance party on wheels. Travel tip: If you decide to bike to Rockaway Beach and then spend the day drinking yourself to oblivion, be sure to meet up with a friend who has tons of room a little bit of room available in her vehicle.

I love these people.

Tacos and techno aside, my favorite part of the day was taking a break from the mayhem and sitting on a boardwalk bench watching the airplanes take off from JFK. The seagulls and airplanes competed for attention in front of the fluffy clouds; a picture-perfect ending to a beautiful day.

Have I convinced you to visit yet? Great! Take the A train to Far Rockaway, transfer at Broad Channel to the S train, and stop at 90th, 98th, 105th or 116th.  Get off of the train, walk two blocks up to the boardwalk, and party on.

For a fun map of the boardwalk’s top eateries and attractions,

For a list of Rockaway’s summer events, .

Rocking away at Rockaway Beach…. it’s a must-do for summers in New York!

  • Dad
    June 23 2012

    Makes me feel like I was there too!!

    • Meihoukai
      June 23 2012

      I know how you love the beach, I bet you wish you were 🙂

  • Grandma Burr
    June 23 2012

    To me, this was one of the best posts. Brought back memories that I had put in the back of my mind. Not the same beaches, but the same actions. Thanks, Gram E

    • Meihoukai
      June 23 2012

      Thanks Gram! Glad to hear you liked this one!

  • Sam
    June 24 2012

    !!!!!! How far away is this from NYC?! Also, I like your bikini. x

    • Meihoukai
      June 25 2012

      Thanks girl! Bikini is H&M. I think from Manhattan you could get here in like an hour or so? It’s a long journey but an easy one, we should go!

      • Sam
        June 26 2012

        Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes and yes!

  • Davi
    June 25 2012

    Thanks for the advice! As a New Yorker I am definitely hitting Rockaway because of you!

    I must say you look gorgeous. That weight that you put on in Asia appears to have vanished! You are wearing your jeans shorts again! How did you do it?

    • Meihoukai
      June 25 2012

      Thank you so much Davi! I kind of followed up with the weight situation it in my most recent monthly roundup post (I kind of felt that two weight related posts were too much for one travel blog 🙂 ) but basically I am healthier than ever before. My weight loss was definitely kick-started by loss of appetite and intestinal issues surrounding my breakup, but after that I really wanted to keep things going. I’ve started eating a truly balanced diet for once in my life, looking at treats as just that, treats, and not as something to stuff in my face several times a day! Just trying to eat less breads and sugars and more protein and vegetables. I feel in control of what I’m eating for the most part while allowing myself several indulgences! Also I’ve been working out whenever possible, either at a gym or with a Jillian Micheals DVD at home. I feel great, thank you for noticing!

  • Davy
    February 13 2016

    Hi, you had a good time! I went to Low Tide last summer. Lot of people dancing and having fun AND one of the food guys had salteñas! Going back soon 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      February 16 2016

      I’m hoping Rockaway Beach will make an appearance in my summer again this year. I love it there!