The New York Aquarium, at West Eighth Street on the boardwalk, was closed for seven months due to storm damage. It’s reopened about half of its exhibits, including sea lions, penguins, walruses and seals, with admission reduced from $14.95 to $9.95. On Fridays, 3 to 6 p.m., admission is by donation.
Events at Coney Island include fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Fridays through the summer, and a movie series, Flicks on the Beach, kicking off July 1. More information is at www.coneyislandfunguide.com or NYC & Company’s “Neighborhood X Neighborhood” guide for Coney Island at www.nycgo.com/neighborhoods .
The Rockaway section of Queens was hard-hit by the storm. There were more than a half-dozen deaths; electricity and train services were disrupted for months; homes, businesses and 2.5 miles of the wooden boardwalk were destroyed.
But the area is coming back. On a recent sunny Saturday, the newly restored shuttle train to the beach was standing-room only. At Rockaway Taco, 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd., hipsters in cargo shorts and brimmed hats waited patiently for over an hour for fish tacos. And the beach was packed with sunbathers, even where swimming is off limits because of erosion that’s left only a narrow strip of sand.
Several shops cater to Rockaway’s famous surfing scene. At Boarders, 192 Beach 92nd St., which sells and rents surfboards ($35 for four hours, $50 for the day), the guest book has been signed by customers from as far away as Kazakhstan, Australia, Ecuador, Japan, Holland and South Africa. Storm damage forced Boarders’ owner Steve Stathis to “gut the place” and discard more than $30,000 worth of inventory, but, he says, “we’re back now.” Stathis says the most popular spot for surfers is off Beach 90th Street, and it gets crowded.
“I won’t rent boards until 10 a.m. so it gives the locals four or five hours of surfing for themselves,” he said.
Rockaway is on a peninsula with the bay and the ocean sides several blocks apart. On the bay, Rockaway Jet Ski rents jet skis and offers guided jet ski tours, including a four-hour trip from the Rockaways all the way around Manhattan island. If the buzz and speed of jet skis aren’t your style, owner Robert Kaskel also rents kayaks.
The nearby marshlands are sure to please nature-lovers, he says: “Guaranteed you’ll see a lot of beautiful things. We have nesting grounds for all kinds of birds and turtles.”
Restoring the beach and boardwalk is a long-term project. Construction equipment abounds and red flags mark areas where swimming is not yet allowed. More information is at www.nycgovparks.org/parks/rockawaybeach/ .