Ready for some next level awesome fun in the sun after the brutally cold, snow-filled winter we just has? Well, if you’re enthusiastically nodding your head in agreement right now then this list of the best beaches in Staten Island will be, “chef’s kiss”, perfect for you!
After all, Staten Island has long been NYC’s forgotten borough. But, believe it or not, it’s a place that is positively brimming over with some of the all-time best beaches in NYC.
So, if you want to experience pristine, sandy beaches without the intense crowds associated with some other popular summer destinations in NYC (yes Coney Island, I’m looking at you) then this list of the top beaches in Staten Island is 100% for you.
Particularly because I’m a 30+ year NYC local who wants to help you quickly and easily step away from the guidebook so that you can experience what summer in NYC (and Staten Island) is really all about.
So, come with me as we frolic through my list of some of the best Staten Island beaches, featuring some sandy oasis’ that are pretty dang close to Staten Island too.
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If you’re booking a trip right now then I IMPLORE you to get travel insurance – even if it’s not from me.
After all, this past year has been a wild ride and I don’t want you to lose money because government regulations have changed.
Truth be told though, I’ve never traveled without travel insurance and don’t think you should either – especialy since I think we’ve all had plans drastically change because of the pandemic.
Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves World Nomads and Safety Wing. You can also read more about which policy is right for you in my full review here.
Where to Stay in Staten Island
Not sure where to stay while in Staten Island? That’s okay because here are my local picks for some of the best hotels in Staten Island.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott New York Staten Island (budget) -This relaxed but comfortable hotel provides guests with easy access to Manhattan and features colorful rooms with flat-screen TVs, whirlpool tubs, and free WiFI. Guests also enjoy a free breakfast buffet daily and can use a complimentary shuttle to the ferry terminal.
- Hampton Inn and Suites Staten Island (mid-range) – Situated near Historic Richmond Town, this classic hotel has modern accommodations that include in-room coffee makers and flat-screen TVs. Guests can also use the on-site gym, enjoy a free hot breakfast, and can take advantage of a complimentary on-site ferry/airport shuttle.
- Holiday Inn Express Staten Island West (mid-range)-This place is nothing fancy but it features clean rooms with all the modern ammenities that you’ll need for a comfortable stay. Complimentary hot breakfast is also served daily and guests have access to a free shuttle service to the Staten Island Ferry.
- Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island (mid-range)– Centrally located in Staten Island’s Industrial Park, this contemporary hotel has well-appointed rooms and an upscale Italian restaurant. There’s also a fun, onsite cabaret with live performances, a free 24/7 pantry, and a complimentary shuttle service to Newark Airport.
Pro Tip: To visit one of the best beaches in Staten Island you’ll need to hop on the Staten Island Ferry or cross one of four bridges – Bayonne Bridge, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Goethals Bridge, or Outerbridge Crossing – to get to NYC’s least populated borough.
Best Beaches in Staten Island
1. Midland Beach
Guess what? No list of the best beaches in Staten Island would be complete without mentioning the one and only, Midland Beach.
In fact, this Staten Island beach is so awesome that it actually doubles as a local neighborhood and is home to the immortal Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk (as is South Beach).
It’s also pretty popular among locals who routinely flock to one of the best NYC beaches to take in epic panoramas of the Verazzano Narrows Bridge.
So, take a leisurely stroll along this 2.5-mile beach/boardwalk and make use of the many shuffleboard areas, playgrounds, and volleyball courts that abound here.
Afterward, go for a refreshing dip in the cool water since lifeguards are regularly on duty during the summer.
Pro Tip: Visit on a Wednesday evening so that you can admire fireworks from the boardwalk before enjoying a delicious dinner at Lilya’s Restaurant and Grill Cafe Gourman. Opt for the Xinkalli (aka Georgian dumplings) since they are some of the best in the city. You can also easily get here via the SIM6 bus.
2. South Beach
Just a hoot and holler away from Midland Beach is another one of the top beaches in Staten Island...South Beach!
it not-so-quietly sits on the East Shore and is a popular place for locals to hang out since free concerts and fireworks displays are regularly on offer here.
That’s why, after taking time to sunbathe and swim in the water, be sure to enjoy a picnic in one of many picnic areas, go fishing on Ocean Breeze Fishing Pier (the city’s largest at 835 feet long), use local bocce ball courts, and play a game of checkers at several checkerboard tables.
Also, be on the look out for a super cool bronze, beachside fountain that features six dolphins at that is illuminated by colorful lights in the evening.
You can also do a bit of walking/jogging/biking on the FDR boardwalk and promenade since it extends to the aforementioned Midland Beach and offers exquisite views of New York Harbor.
3. Great Kills Beach
Tucked away inside the Gateway National Recreation Area, this is one of the top beaches in Staten Island that is not only beautiful but that also has a wealth of activities for the entire family to enjoy
So, take advantage of the area’s array of hiking trails, and even a model airplane field, before enjoying a swim when lifeguards are present.
Next, walk, rollerblade, bike, or jog your way along the well-maintained, 1.5-mile multi-use path here. It stretches out from the park entrance all the way to the Beach Center and is also wheelchair accessible.
Afterward, try a bit of surfing or do some on-shore fishing before going birdwatching within this vibrant wildlife area.
Pro Tip: Paths here cannot be used in the evening since they are not lit up at night.
4. Wolfe’s Pond Beach
Located inside one of Staten Island’s largest parks, Wolfe’s Pond Park maintains more than 14 miles of the best beaches in Staten Island.
It’s also a vibrant oasis of greenery on the South Shore that overlooks Raritan Bay and that is home to amazing mountain biking trails, beautiful wetland areas, and scenic walking trails.
So, be on the look out for local wildlife like Horseshoe Crabs, Gray Gulls, Herring Gulls, Laughing Gulls, Brant Geese, Blue Mussels and Quahog Clams before accusing the beach from Chester Avenue.
Don’t worry, you’ll find ample free parking here and might even spot some delicious local food trucks parked at Hylan Boulevard and Holten Avenue.
Then, after fueling up (hopefully) enjoy the area’s wealth of playgrounds, hockey rinks, tennis courts, water fountains, and even a fishing pier – many of which are best used between Memorial Day and Labor Day since this is when the beach is open.
You can also swim daily, between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm, when lifeguards are on duty.
Pro Tip: This isn’t s super pristine, well-maintained beach so expect lots of marine life and seaweed, making water shoes here essential.
5. Cedar Grove Beach
Hidden away in Great Kills Park, this is one of the best beaches in Staten Island that isn’t completely overflowing with tourists.
Therefore, if you’re looking for a quiet respite from the chaos of the city then this is easily one of the best beaches in NYC for you!
However, that distinct lack of people is probably only because this is one of the newest beaches in NYC that was developed out of a former oceanside bungalow colony.
It’s also fairly small when compared to some of the other top beaches in Staten Island. However, it’s still a great place to bask in the sun, hike on a long trail with views of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, and grab a snack at one of the many stands here.
You can also go for a swim when lifeguards are on duty before enjoying a refreshing shower in the fantastic public changing rooms here.
Pro Tip: You might want to bring your own food since this is one of the quieter beaches on this list.
6. Fort Wadsworth Beach
Also located inside the Gateway National Recreation Area, the Fort Wadsworth Beach is one of the few places on this list of the best beaches in Staten Island where you really shouldn’t go swimming.
And that’s mostly because the current here is exceptionally strong and there are no lifeguards on duty. However, while you’re here you can walk along the beach, which can sometimes be littered with more than a little trash.
Other than that, just park at the lot just past the campground and take a scenic stroll through the area. You can also explore the fort’s underground tunnels, ascend to the top of overlook tower, visit the Mont Sec History House or learn more about the local environment at the visitor center.
Other Picks for the Best Beaches Near Staten Island
7. Coney Island, Brooklyn
This is possibly the most famous beach on this list of best beaches in Staten Island. And you know what? This iconic stretch of sand isn’t even in Staten Island!
Yup. It’s true. Because as you probably already know, the immortal Coney Island, and its associated beach, is all the way at the southern end of Brooklyn.
And it’s easily one of the best beaches in NYC since you can do lots of fun things here like:
- Visit the Coney Island Museum
- Check out the New York Aquarium
- See where the original Nathan’s hot dog stand is
- Ride on the Wonder Wheel
- Enjoy Luna Park
- Get an adrenaline rush from the Cyclone roller coaster
- Walk along the extensive boardwalk
- And more!
Yes, it will be crowded. But honestly? What else would you expect from summer in Coney Island as you walk along Riegelmann Boardwalk and play games/sample treats from all the vendors here?
Plus, it’s an all around great place to go swimming since lifeguards are on duty here daily, between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm, throughout the summer months. Just be sure not to take a dip at any other time of day since it’s against the rules.
So, if you want to visit one of the best beaches in NYC for yourself then take the D,F, N, or Q train from Manhattan and get off at Coney Island station (Neptune Avenue/Ocean Parkway stations are beach accessible too).
The ride is just $2.75 each way and it will take you about an 1 hour and 20 minutes to get here from midtown.
Pro Tip: To enjoy one of the best outdoor activities in NYC, come early and attend local events like the July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest and the Mermaid Parade in mid-June. Also stop by Totonno’s to enjoy some of the best pizza in NYC (they’ve been around since 1921).
8. Sandy Hook, Jersey Shore
Want to visit one of the best beaches near Staten Island? If so then hop aboard the Seastreak Ferry, at the Battery Maritime Building (slip 5), and go directly to Sandy Hook in about 45 minutes (with killer views along the way).
Upon arrival, walk along the boardwalk, order some food from the many vendors and food trucks here, and take advantage of all the beauty that this magnificent beach on the northern tip of the Jersey Shore has to offer.
Also, because this beach is part of Gateway National Park you can go hiking, do a bit of birdwatching, picnic along the shore, go fishing, or enjoy some windsurfing/surfing since this area is pretty windy and features some nice waves.
If you want, you can even go for a swim (there are tons of lifeguards here) before visiting Sandy Hook Lighthouse, aka the oldest operating lighthouse in the country at 250 years old.
Pro Tip: Wanna frolic around in your birthday suit? Then hit up Gunnison nude beach.
9. Rockaway Beach, Queens
This sandy oasis in Queens is legendary. Not only does one of the best songs about New York City reference it, but it stretches out in all its glory for a solid 5 miles.
Add in a fantastic, 5.5-mile long Boardwalk, lined with vendors selling everything from Italian ices to pizza, and you have an excellent place to go walking or watch the sunset after sunbathing on the beach all day.
Alternatively, you could always make use of the decent waves here and do a bit of impromptu surfing after renting a “gnarly” board from Rockaway Surf Club (FYI cash only).
Then, once you’ve surfed until you can surf no more, grab a drink and relax outside at Low Tide Bar (at 9th Street Boardwalk).
After all, this epic local watering hole is known for its live DJs, extensive beer list, and all around fun atmosphere.
So, if you want to visit one of the best beaches in New York City for yourself, you can take the ferry from Pier 11 in Manhattan, the ferry at Brooklyn Army Terminal in Red Hook, or the subway from Manhattan.
With the later, just hop on the A train, take it to Broad Channel station, transfer to the S train, and then take that to Beach 90 Street station. In total, the trip will take about an hour and a half from midtown.
Pro Tip: You can also go surfing/relax at nearby Long Beach too.
10. Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
Just a twenty-minute drive from Staten Island is none other than Brighton Beach. it’s an iconic place that sits in between Cony Island and Manhattan and that has been immortalized in literary classics like The Brighton Beach Memoirs.
It’s also routinely rated one of the best beaches in NYC since it features 1.1 miles of soft, sandy beaches and has a long boardwalk for visitors to enjoy.
In fact, Brighton Beach actually shares Riegelmann boardwalk with Coney Island since this iconic walkway extends all the way from Manhattan Beach to Coney Island.
This part of the city is also very Russian since many locals flock here from that part of the world. Therefore, it’s a place with a distinct vibe that is unlike anywhere else in the world.
So, after enjoying all that this epic beach has to offer, head down the boardwalk to Brighton 6th Street and have lunch at Tatiana’s. Order the pelmeni and find out what Russian pierogis, stuffed with veal and pork,are all about.
Finally, end your night at popular after-dark haunts like Oleandr or Skovorodka,. Take in the gaudy decor and over-the-top stage shows before you order vodka straight up and shout, “Na Zdorovie” (To health!) at the top of your lungs.
Pro Tip: Locals aren’t super friendly to English speakers so practice your Russian before you arrive. To get here, just take the B train from the East Village directly to Brighton Beach.
Map of the Best Beaches in Staten Island
Additional New York Resources You’ll Love
- Best Hamptons Beaches
- Best Beaches in Brooklyn
- Best Outdoor Activities in NYC
- Best Bars in Staten Island