New York has its share of beautiful spots to soak up the sun and dunk in the waves, but at the most famous beach spots, like Coney Island, the weekend rush can be crowded and overwhelming. If you’re looking for a beach day at a more secluded location look no further than these ten spots. These overlooked beaches can be found in surprising locations throughout the five boroughs and offer a quieter experience than the big-name beaches. If you want to make the most of the second half of summer as much as we do but have already exhausted the well-tread shores, try out our top picks for the best hidden beaches in NYC.
1. Swindler Cove
Located in Upper Manhattan next to Inwood, Swindler Cove is a rare beach spot in the city. The shore can be found at the northernmost tip of the Harlem River Park, across from the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse. The beach is a product of New York Restoration Project‘s (NYRP) initiatives in Upper Manhattan. The organization, which was founded by actress Bette Midler, works in partnership with the NYC Parks Department to restore green spaces and has completed work in Fort Washington Park, Fort Tryon Park, Sherman Creek Park, Highbridge Park, and the Harlem River Greenway.
From the sandy beach at Swindler Cove, you can catch a glimpse of Roberto Clemente State Park. The view is a hidden gem in the industrial area along edge of Manhattan and the Bronx.
2. Cedar Grove Beach
Some of the best and least frequented beaches in New York city are tucked away on the far side of Staten Island. One of those hidden gems is Cedar Grove Beach. As a former beach bungalow colony, it’s also one of the NYC Park’s newest beach openings, making this summer a great time to get out and enjoy it before news of it spreads and the crowds ratchet up to the level of Brighton Beach or Coney Island.
As a part of Great Kills Park, Cedar Grove is located in one of the best natural areas of the city. If you are in search of a break from the urban environment but don’t want to travel too far away this is a perfect choice. Best of all, this beach has fine sand and swimmable waters, so bring a swimsuit.
3. Great Kills Beach
On the whole, Great Kills Park is a beautiful natural area of Staten Island with much to offer. It’s on the coast opposite Freshkills Park, which is a wonder of man-made parks that was once a landfill with 150-million pounds of trash.
While all of Great Kills Park is perfect for a day trip, if you’re looking for a more secluded area for a beach day, head southwest from the main entrance of Great Kills Beach and walk along the coast. From there several sandy paths lead out onto a quiet, peaceful beach. With a permit it’s also possible to go by car down the rocky road at the end of the peninsula.
4. Brooklyn Bridge Beach
The beaches surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge on both sides are an example of a failed plan by the New York government to open up accessible beaches near Manhattan. In 2016, the city decided the waters were too polluted and tumultuous to accommodate an expensive project that initially included amenities like a kayak launch and fishing area.
Last year, the city decided to open the beach up to the public for one day only, on July 14th, in honor of City of Water Day. The tradition was continued this year and the site played host to a kayak race. The openings of Brooklyn Bridge Beach are the result of community activism and a good deal of planning and organizing on the part of the Waterfront Alliance. Hopefully, the city will eventually be able to open the beach for good so we can enjoy its kayak-worthy waves every day of the year.
5. Valentino Pier
Valentino Park and Pier offers a unique view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Governors Island. Situated at the tip of Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, it has a lesser-seen view of the Upper Bay than more popular Brooklyn Heights locations.
The perfect spot for a sunset scene, the pier juts out unexpectedly from an industrial area. While it doesn’t allow for swimming, it’s a great spot for fishers looking to find a more open space to catch fish. Grab a snack and a drink and enjoy a classic New York view from a new place.
6. Dead Horse Bay
Dead Horse Bay definitely deserves the title of New York City’s most unique beach. The shoreline is covered with old trash, debris, and found items, most notably, a large quantity of glass bottles. The beach was once the site of several horse rendering plants on Barren Island before the age waste disposal concern and regulation. Pounds and pounds of chopped-up horse bones were dumped on the beach.
With the dawn of the automobile age, the beach became a site of industrial waste like scrap metal and car parts. The landfill dump wasn’t shut down until 1953, so much of the trash here comes from before that year, making the beach a quasi-time capsule. In August 2020, the National Park Service closed the beach area after the presence of radiological contamination was discovered.
7. Hurricane Point
Most New Yorkers are familiar with Smorgasborg, Brooklyn’s trendy outdoor street food fair. What many New Yorkers don’t know is that Hurricane Point, at the edge East River State Park, on the far side of Smorgasborg’s Williamsburg location, is a beautiful beach with atmospheric views of Manhattan from across the East River.
Make your way across the coastline and enjoy the view without the crowds of Brooklyn’s other more frequented shorelines like Brooklyn Bridge Pier. It’s the perfect place for a picnic with the ample food offerings in the area. A walk down the shore will take you to other more popular but equally enjoyable spots, like the pier at WNYC Transmitter Park, or the soccer fields around Bushwick Inlet Park.
8. Randall’s Island
Randall’s Island is an overlooked coastline that is great for Manhattan views. There is also a wealth of other activities available nearby. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts, the park has been completely transformed into a new community center since renovations began in 2005. With a tennis court, a sports stadium, a golf course, and a wetlands area spanning nine acres, the park now offers more than ever before.
As an official NYC government park, the city runs numerous community programs on the island, too, so be sure to check out the events postings before your visit, so you don’t miss an outdoor yoga class or an urban farm workshop, to name a few. The wide open space is also a perfect place for a dog walk, family barbecue, or even a bike ride on the paved paths.
9. Soundview Park
Soundview Park is the result of over forty years of landscaping efforts. It was once part marsh and part landfill, but has since been renovated into an attractive public park with countless amenities. Located at the opening of the Bronx River into the East River, the site offers much more than just a beach. The park also features picnic tables, tennis courts, sports fields, and more. There’s also miles of walking and biking trails and benches surrounded by lush greenery.
It’s big enough to wander around for hours without coming across its beautiful coastline views. The beach lies at the very back of the park making it the perfect hidden spot to get closer to the water. As a bonus, if you head east along the Bronx river, you’ll come to Clason Point. While this one is not quite as unknown, it has some breathtaking views of the Whitestone Bridge and you can spot an old rusting ship jutting up from the Westchester Creek. And if you have to travel back towards Manhattan, there’s a convenient ferry that leaves from the point and makes stops at 90th and 34th Street.
10. Tottenville Shore Park
Tottenville Shore Park is an under-the-radar beach near Tottenville, Staten Island, at New York City’s very southern border. If you’re looking to escape from the bustle of the city for a day, this is perhaps one of the best places to do so. Tottenville beach can be found on the far side of Arthur Kill Road next to the Outerbridge Crossing. The coastline is surrounded by lush green trees for miles, making it the perfect spot to avoid the crowds.
Back in 2012, the beach was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, so new protective systems have been installed. This means that Tottenville has a special defense shield against harsh weather, so you won’t be finding unmanageable waves here. Bring the kids for a swim free of crowding and strong tides, or just come for a taste of a more isolated beach.