Travel Tips

Memorial Day Beach Report: Has the East Coast Recovered from Sandy?

Memorial Day is known as the unofficial beginning of summer, and this weekend thousands of sun seekers will rush to beach. However, the availability of beach access after Hurricane Sandy remains a big issue for those who live in the Northeast or who are planning trips to the area.

There are still some closures and some areas will have restricted access, however most beaches will be open and ready for the upcoming season. Thanks to 24/7 volunteer cleanup efforts by AmeriCorps, FEMA, the American Red Cross, Points of Light,  and local authorities, volunteer groups, and citizens, recovery efforts have been largely successful.

The Gateway National Recreation Area services New York and New Jersey, with 11 park sites divided into three units. Almost all of the units were hit hard by Sandy, but amazingly only a handful of beaches will be closed for the upcoming season. In the Staten Island area, all of the beaches are accessible, save one area that is closed for a radiation survey. In the Sandy Hook unit three beaches are currently open, with more expected to follow as the season progresses. In the Jamaica Bay unit, closures are in effect at Fort Tilden and Breezy Point due to debris, as well as at the Canarsie Pier due to structural security testing. All other areas, including the popular Jacob Riis Park, are open to the public. Please check the Park website for more detailed information.

According to a recent announcement, all of the New York state-run beaches are scheduled to be open for Memorial Day, including those on Long Island and Coney Island. This news comes as a welcome surprise to the many skeptics who said that the lifeguard stations and comfort stations would not be completed in time for the summer season. However, it seems that due to pre-fab architecture and aggressive planning, the beaches will be able to operate with new and improved structures. Some of the new buildings even incorporate recycled wood from damaged boardwalks.

Image credit: Flickr, user Nick Harris

For those of you hoping to visit the Jersey Shore this weekend, the news is good as most beaches are preparing to open on Memorial Day. Some areas have declared they won’t be open until June, or later in the summer, but there will definitely be other options available nearby. For an excellent breakdown of accessibility, visit the NJ Shore Guide. One of the main concerns facing the Jersey Shore and Atlantic City is making people aware that the entire area is not destroyed. New broadcasts shortly after Hurricane Sandy announced that the Atlantic City boardwalk had been decimated, which turned out to not be the case. Even though stations corrected the information, the damage had been done, and many businesses are still receiving calls asking if they are open. The biggest challenge now is making tourists aware of everything the area has to offer before the beach season hits.

Our advice is to hit the beach. By visiting the beaches and areas hit hardest by Sandy, you will help to boost the local economies and speed up recovery efforts! So do your part to help rebuild, while getting a killer tan.

For more information about specific beach openings and closures, including restricted access and available amenities, we recommend contacting the local Chamber of Commerce for the most up-to-date information.

For additional ways to help recovery efforts, see our Voluntourism Article on Hurricane Sandy

By Ashleigh Whelan for