Words and Photography by Rich Nardo
There’s a saying in Long Beach: “I’ve got Long Beach sand in my shoes”. It’s a way for LB locals to speak to the love they have for their tight-knit community while calling to mind the many memories they create on their city’s beautiful beaches.
As great as our beaches are, kicking back in the sand and surf isn’t the only way to enjoy Long Beach’s expansive coastal habitat. From quiet evenings on the boardwalk to exploring the marshes around Reynold’s channel, there are countless ways to enjoy the outdoors in Long Beach.
Here are a few of them to get you started.
Surf One Of The Best Breaks in the Northeast - Long Beach is home to some of the best waves in the northeast, and a growing number of surfers from the area are serving as ambassadors to LB in the wider surf community. Will Skudin, who surfed one of the biggest waves ever recorded at Nazare in 2013, is a top competitor on the Big Wave Surfing circuit. He also runs the Skudin Surf Camps and Surf For All Foundation - both based in Long Beach. Point Lookout’s Balaram Stack has developed a reputation as one of the most innovative surfers in the world and there’s a whole field of talented locals in the lineup every day - even in the dead of winter.
Play A Round of Golf - Lido Golf Club is a go-to spot for many south shore golfers. As you’d expect from a course built on a marsh, there aren’t a lot of changes in elevation, but it makes up for the relatively flatness with a decent number of water hazards (not to mention the wind is almost always a factor). The double water trap on the Signature 16th hole is the most talked about, but the long Par-3 hugging a pond at 17th is just as challenging. Looking for an easy nine? There’s a quaint little Par-3 course at Nickerson, as well.
Hang On The Boardwalk… - Whether you want to run, bike, skate or walk, there’s a boardwalk experience that will fit your ambitions. During the summer months you can even get a bite to eat at the Shoregasboard collection of food trucks, Danny Mac’s on the west end of the boardwalk or at any of the three food shacks on the boardwalk - Riptides, Shakes & Shuckers and Beach Local Cafe. Looking for something even more laid back? Grab a cup of coffee at Gentle Brew or a couple of cocktails at the Allegria Hotel and just watch the waves.
Volleyball on the Beach - The Evolutions Volleyball League continues to grow every summer, even 29 years into its existence. The league caters to all skill levels and, while it’s not league sponsored, teams are known to bring down a few beers. What is league sponsored is the rotating afterparty that bounces around local Long Beach watering holes each league night.
Take a Kayak out on the Channel - Reynolds Channel, which was named in honor of Long Beach’s first mayor, William H Reynolds, separates the barrier island of Long Beach from the main island of Long Island. It’s one of the best hidden gems in Long Beach and taking a kayak down the channel heading west offers one of the most beautiful views of the New York City skyline you can get.
Check out the Summer Concert Series & Assorted Fun - All throughout the summer, local musicians can be found entertaining listeners at different places on the beach as part of the Long Beach Summer Concert Series - all free of charge. Also free of charge is the “Movies On the Beach” series that runs all summer (Can’t beat watching Jaws on the beach). Willing to spend a little money? You can fly through the sky at the iFly Trapeze School or “Escape The Trailer” - both by the Riverside entrance to the beach. You can take out a Stand-up Paddle board or do Paddleboard Yoga classes or head a little north to LB Wake and Watersports for a Jet ski tour through the marshes.
Go(ne) Fishing - Whether fluking off Magnolia Pier, heading deeper into the channel for stripers or surfcasting off the ocean beaches for anything from sharks to blues and Kingfish, fisherman can find a fun way to spend a day in Long Beach. Make sure to stop at Ralph’s Bait Shop in Island Park on the way into town.
Explore the Lido Park Preserve - Lido Park Preserve is a pristine 40-acres of marshland located along Lido Boulevard on the eastern half of the island. It was restored in 2005, when the Town of Hempstead developed the area - removing debris and replanting indigenous plants, creating an earth berm to mitigate street noise and constructing a scenic overlook. View the tidal wetland that serves as an integral part of the plan to preserve wildlife in the Hempstead estuary system. It supports a wide variety of grasses and other marine vegetation, several species of fish and wildlife, waterfowl and - in the winter - the occasional seal.
Spend A Day on The Beach - If it’s been a long week and you just want to chill on the beach, maybe wade out into the surf for a bit, Long Beach has you covered. It’s 3.5 miles of white sand shoreline are considered one of the cleanest in the US. Timeout New York, New York Magazine and Travel & Leisure Magazine all consistently have it near the top of their list for best beaches in the New York City area and USA Today even named it one of the best beaches in the entire United States a few years ago.
View Long Beach’s Diverse Wildlife - Long Beach is fortunate enough to have wide array of wildlife. If you’re a birdwatcher, Long Beach is home to a multitude of Plovers and Sandpipers, Terns, Gulls, American Oystercatchers Black Skimmers, Waterfowl, Cormorants and songbirds. Best of all, there is a healthy Osprey population that you can see in their nests or coming back from a successful hunt with fish in their talons. You can catch a glimpse of seals in the winter, dolphins in the summer and fall and Whales following the bunker close to shore in October and November. Our waters support sea turtles, eels, rays, crabs and plenty of species of fish ranging from Herring to the occasional Great White Shark.