Best known, for its beaches, the phrase "The Rockaways" can encompass a varying degree of communities. The basic interpretation is that it refers to all of the communities that are located on the Rockaway Peninsula, from Rockaway Point at the far western end, to the community of Rockaway Beach in the middle and Far Rockaway at the eastern end. Those communities, and all of those in between, encompass a range of social, economic, and ethnic groups. The western end of the peninsula includes such communities as the gated communities of Breezy Point, the affluent areas of Neponsit and Belle Harbor, and the more commercial neighborhoods of Rockaway Park and Rockaway Beach. The eastern half contains communities such as the newly developed neighborhood of Arverne by the Sea, the residentially dense Far Rockaway, and the suburban enclave of Bayswater. Historically, the western half of the peninsula has had a very large Irish population while the eastern half has a predominantly African-American population. A sizeable Jewish population is present on both ends of the peninsula as well.
Additionally, sometimes the communities of Broad Channel and Howard Beach are often associated with the Rockaways due to their proximity to the Rockaways and similar make up. Broad Channel, is also a coastal community and is situated on an island in the middle of Jamaica Bay. It is connected to the Rockaways to the south and Howard Beach to the north by Cross Bay Boulevard via bridges or the A train. Although largely residential in nature, Broad Channel also has private marinas, eateries, and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
Howard Beach is located north of Broad Channel on the southern coast of the Queens mainland. The community is divided by Cross Bay Boulevard, its main commercial strip. On the west, is known as 'New Howard Beach' due to the fact that this section was developed more recently and features newer and larger homes. On the east side is 'Old Howard Beach' or 'Hamilton Beach' and is often noted for its water canals. Howard Beach as a whole, has a large Italian population which is evident in its numerous Italian restaurants and bakeries.
The Rockaways are served by the A and the Rockaway Park Shuttle (marked as S), with the A running East to Far Rockaway and the shuttle running down to Rockaway Park. The S and the A meet at Broad Channel station.
The closest connection between the A and any other line is Broadway Junction in East New York
The Q52 & Q53 buses connect the peninsula to the mainland, with the Q52 going east towards Arverne, and the Q53 going west towards Rockaway Park. The Q35 connects Rockaway Park to Brooklyn. The N31, N32, and N33 provide connections to western Nassau County. Finally, the Q22 provides local transit service within the peninsula.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, (A or S to Broad Channel). A rare bit of nature in New York. While much of the reserve has been helped along by human hands, it is still well worth visiting to see what Queens looked like before all the development. There are several walks.Free. edit
Jacob Riis Park, . 9am-5pm. Located on the western end of the peninsula, the park is named after the famous New York City journalist and is a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The park includes access to the beach as well as outdoor sports such as basketball, volleyball, and golfing. Additionally the Jacob Riis Bathhouse, an historic Art Deco landmark, is currently used to house historic exhibits and park ranger programs.edit
September 11th Rockaway Tribute Park, Bayside of 116th Street, . Over 50 people from the communities in the Rockaways perished during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. A memorial was built in their honor, on the edge of Jamaica Bay with a view of Manhattan in the distance. edit
Fort Tilden, . This area is also a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area and contains a mixture of decommissioned military installations and extensive natural grounds. Located near Jacob Riis Park, on the western end of the peninsula, it offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, history tours, and bird watching.edit
Rockaway Beach, . The Rockaways contain 7 miles of beaches making it one of the largest urban beaches in the country. According to the New York City Parks Department, over 3 million people visited the beaches in Rockaway for the 2013 summer season. edit
Rockaway Jet Ski, 375 Beach 92nd St, ☎ (646) 350-4802, . 11am-7pm. The Rockaway Peninsula borders Jamaica Bay allowing locals and visitors to take part in a variety of marine activities, including jet skiing.edit
Rockaway Artists Alliance, 260 Beach 116th St., ☎ 718-474-0861, . The Alliance is a non for profit organization that promotes and encourages participation in the arts and other cultural activities in and around the Rockaways. They offer a variety of lectures, classes, and exhibitions. They also have two art galleries within Fort Tilden.edit
Rockaway Theatre Company, The Post Theatre, Building T4, Fort Tilden, ☎ (718) 374-6400, . This community theatre group performs a variety of plays and musical performances on the weekends primarily at the Post Theater in Fort Tilden.edit
Elegante's Pizza, 9201 Rockaway Beach Boulevard (Shuttle to Beach 90th St), ☎ (718) 634-3914. Often called the best pizza in the Rockaways, this place has one wall near the register lined with bills with compliments written on them.budget. edit
Rockaway Taco, 95-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard (Shuttle to Beach 97th Street), . A well-known taco shop that has garnered the attention of many New York City media outlets, locals and beach goers. It is opened in late spring and during the summer but is closed for autumn and winter.edit
O'Sake Japanese Restaurant, 263 Beach 116th Street (Shuttle to Beach 116th Street), ☎ (718) 945-8888. A small eatery that provides a variety of sushi and other Japanese dishes.edit
Thai Rock, 375 Beach 92nd Street, ☎ (646)-455-3991, . A restaurant with an open deck off of Jamaica Bay, its specialty is Thai cuisine and often hosts live musical entertainment for its guests.$10-$30. edit
The Hostile Hostel, 300 Beach 88th Street (Take A train to Broad Channel, then take the Shuttle to Beach 90t St.), ☎ 360-451-8023, . checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12pm. Surf in Rockaway, stay in Rockaway. Skip the subway commute and get up for dawn patrol, The Hostile Hostel is just 3 blocks from the beach with beds and board storage starting at $45/night. $45+. edit
The Rockaway peninsula is home to several dangerous areas the farther east one moves down the peninsula. Traveling to the neighborhoods of Far Rockaway and Edgemere at night would not be wise. Gang violence plagues the many housing projects on the peninsula, and it can be easy getting caught in the cross fire. Robberies and assaults on tourists are not very common (probably because tourists don't visit areas like Far Rockaway), but still can happen. It would be safest to avoid the public housing developments and not be caught on foot at night in the eastern most portions of the peninsula.