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.
The LIRR's Far Rockaway Branch serves Far Rockaway only. Note that this station is not included in the City Ticket program as going to it requires leaving New York City
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.