Heading out of the city to New York's beaches requires some advance planning—you need to pack up towels, toys, suncream, swimsuits, food, and water and lug it to the beach—and back home again. If you like the idea of the beach but not all the hassle of it, or the sand that ends up back in your apartment, joining one of the beach clubs in the village of Atlantic Beach, New York, off the south shore of Long Island, offers you ocean access with all the stress and mess removed.
Starting at around a few thousand dollars for a couple, you get seasonal access to the beach along with somewhere to store your gear, plus easy beach parking, a shower and depending on your budget: chairs, umbrellas, a cabana with electricity and and staff on hand to help you set up your stuff or get you a cold drink.
"When you cross the bridge to Atlantic Beach, 20 pounds of stress automatically lift from your shoulders," says one longtime member. "These are not fancy clubs—they're like summer camps but with cabana boys," she says.
Atlantic Beach is around 25 miles from the city, and while you can get there on the LIRR, it's generally easier to drive. Some clubs have membership and parking fees on top of the cost of renting a locker or a cabana, and if you're only renting a locker, which is the most affordable option, you might be restricted to certain areas of the club.
These are all good things to keep in mind if you’re considering beach club membership. You’ll also want to find out the club's hours, whether or not alcohol is served, and if you can set up a mini-fridge or microwave in your cabana. The clubs don't require personal recommendations and some clubs still have openings, though most say they’ll likely sell out by the end of June.
On the Western tip of Nassau County, Silverpoint still has a few shower cabins and cabanas available for the season. A parking pass is included in the price of a cabana. There are also a dozen lockers available. The club facilities include an Olympic-sized pool, a kiddie pool, lifeguards on the beach, tennis courts, basketball courts, a game room, playgrounds, and a cafe.
In operation since 1948, the Sun and Surf Beach club still has plenty of bath cabin lockers available. These are small changing rooms with a bench and shelving. Price start at $1,725 plus a membership fee, which will differ depending on the size of your group. The club has an Olympic-sized pool, a kids pool, tennis, basketball, bocce courts, playgrounds and a full wine and food service restaurant.
There are five shower cabins still available at Sunny Atlantic, which gives you space to change. It has shelves and hooks with a shower where you can store your things before going to the beach. The club is family friendly with a heated pool, a kiddie pool and a boardwalk cafe.
Cabana membership at The Sands comes with a parking pass and prices for the few remaining cabanas by the pool start at $4,500. Some lockers are also available with prices starting at $2,100. The cabanas have electricity and a shower, plus a changing room, lounge chairs, and cabana boys to bring you food. In its 54th year, the club is one of the largest in the area and attracts lots of families. There’s a day camp throughout the summer, a pool and a steam room, as well as a snack bar. The club also offers surf lessons a couple of times a year.
The last remaining lockers at The Shores are likely to be snapped up by early June. Lockers provide a changing area, shower, and shelves, and prices start at $2,300. The club amenities include a sand court, pool court, kiddie pool, kids activity area, and a restaurant.
Catalina Beach Club has been around for over 70 years and still has an Art Deco feel. The club has three remaining cabanas for the season starting at $7,700. The club has a restaurant, a day camp and lots of returning members. There’s usually a waitlist for the lockers at this club and they sell out in the fall (The list opens to new members around September 15th each year so if you’re interested, mark your calendar).
There are some sand court cabanas starting at $5,999 still available at New York Beach Club. There’s also one oceanfront cabana beneath the boardwalk with views of the ocean, and a couple of pool court cabanas with prices starting at $6,999. The last few lockers are available for $2,499. The beach club is under new ownership this year and has an upgraded playground, a heated pool, a new restaurant, and retains its signature palm trees.