By Ernest Barteldes
The last time I wrote about Staten Island’s South Beach (not to be confused with the tourist attraction in Miami – wouldn’t even be fair to do so) I was less than charitable. I was not complaining about the beach itself back then, but about the jerks who were doing less than their part by leaving tons of trash behind when the beach looked more like a Law and Order crime scene than a beach eight months after the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Back then, most of the boardwalk was cordoned off and there were these artificial dunes made from whatever trash was cleaned out from the seashore, and there was a weird smell around. My past article called on authorities to crack down on folks who were taking advantage of the chaos caused by the hurricane’s aftermath to clean up after themselves, and also reflected on the sadness I felt about seeing my local beach in such a bad situation.
A couple of years on, I must say that although South Beach has not yet returned to its previous glory, things are much better. Yes, the dunes are still there but I guess they serve the purpose of protecting the boardwalk and areas around it should another storm like that happen again. On the plus side, it is still pretty much undiscovered country over there – unlike well-known areas with easy access as Coney Island, no one is there with annoying boom boxes (or Bluetooth speakers) or guys selling beer you will later be ticketed for opening. It is crowded around the lifeguards, but if you go farther out you can have a little private area with little or no disturbance.
When Renata and I go to South Beach I take a small cooler with a few bottles of beer and water, which we enjoy by discreetly pouring into paper cups – I know it’s illegal, but apparently if you keep to yourself, don’t flash the bottles and most importantly don’t act like an idiot they leave you alone (no one has ever asked me about the content of the cups). We never bring food because there are plenty of places around where you can nosh, going from the high-end South Fin Grill to a simple snack bar on the boardwalk. If you want more variety, just walk a few blocks up Sand Lane and you have various other choices, including Polish and Mexican delis that make food to order.
So if you want to check out our little stretch of sand, don’t come with high expectations – no, the sand is not that white but it’s pretty clean – no one is leaving trash behind or acting like a fool. Just pray the hipsters stay away – after all, the Staten Island Ferry does not serve craft beers – for now.
Recipe: Staten Island Ferry Cocktail
2 ounces Malibu rum
2 ounces pineapple juice.
Pour rum and pineapple juice in a highball glass filled 2/3 with ice. Stir.