Ten Things You Should Know About Rockaway Beach

My time here in Rockaway Beach is coming to an end soon, and I thought I should share some things that I've learned.

1. Don't wear a fancy sun hat on the beach, especially after 2PM. The wind dramatically picks up and you will find yourself chasing your stylish chapeau as it rapidly travels across the hipster landscape. Nothing can ruin an afternoon more than pale tattooed fedora-sporting men snickering at your attempts to remain dignified while running unevenly in the sand.

2. While most people learn that "frozens" are lovely alcoholic slushies served at the local watering hole Connolly's on B95th Street, the most important word to have in your arsenal is "floater." Ask for one with your frozen and the bartender will top it off with a shot of rum. Oh, my!

3. Every few blocks you will notice a newly orphaned pair of underwear on the boardwalk. Most often it's not "skelly" and you should feel sorry for that poor kid walking around in a wet, sandy swimsuit against his will. And after a few weeks of these sightings, you will begin asking overly encumbered parents if the orphaned underwear belongs to them--which is a BIG mistake! They usually get defensive and give you a dirty look. So don't do it.

4. "Skelly" is a word that you will hear the locals using a lot. It is often used as an adjective and means unhygienic.  A "skell" is a really unhygienic individual who is basically a bottom feeder. So when a local calls you a skell, you can bet it is not a compliment.

5. EVERY food stand on the boardwalk is a cash-only business. So be sure to bring a few greenbacks with you to the beach. But you don't need a lot of money. $20 can get you a meal (average price is $6-7), a drink (sangria slushie from Low Tide Bar is $8), and a dessert (a small Italian ice from DiCosmo's is $2.50).

6. Everyone loves dolphin sightings and there are plenty of them in the Rockaways. Even the most cynical and "cool" twentysomethings will melt once they hear someone yell, "Look! A dolphin!" I've seen it happen and I'm reminded that deep inside we are all still silly children. So don't despair if the picnic tables at the concession stands are overrun with hipsters; they are people, too. (Just yell out, "I see a dolphin!" and see for yourself.)

7. Rockaway Beach is the longest urban beach in the United States. I am stating this because I've heard it a thousand times while eavesdropping on some painful conversations. And I've regurgitated this fact to many friends who have come to visit me here. Impressive, isn't it?
Which means that the best way to get around the boardwalk is by bike because, well, it's the longest urban beach in the United States. Just be sure that the tires have air in them and that your seat is springy. It's a bumpy ride! And be sure to bring a lock because bicycles tend to get stolen. (It's still the city, after all.)

8. The birds on the beach are ballsy creatures. They are known to go into your beach bag, pull out ziplock bags, and attempt to fly away. I caught this nasty bird on the right trying to get away with my cell phone in a ziplock bag. A helpful pair of young ladies threw sand at the bird and it dropped the bag--but didn't leave! So if you go to the beach, be sure to bring a beach bag that can close at the top.

9. Even though JFK International Airport is less than a ten minute drive away, the sound of airplanes does not dominate the sky. But if you do look up for a long stretch of time, you can spot the airplanes coming through the clouds one at a time as they prepare to land. And it can be as soothing as counting sheep, especially if you are preparing for a midday beach siesta.

10. If you stay for a week or so, you'll notice that the guy from Rockaway Taco is like Zelig. (I don't have a picture of him, but you'll know who I'm talking about.) You will see him everywhere--and be comforted by it! He's a friendly bloke and will wave back if you wave at him first. Try it. You'll like it. And you'll probably go to Rockaway Taco more because of it. Oh, wait. No. You'll go to Rockaway Taco because it's absolutely delicious!