Updated June 2, 1:45 p.m.
Three years after Hurricane Sandy decimated the Rockaway Beach boardwalk, the area has seen a revitalization, and outdoor trip companies are noticing.
NYC Beach Bums, OvRride and NYC Beach Bus, three companies specializing in transporting people to outdoor destinations, are offering city residents opportunities to explore the beach, local shops and dining in the area.
NYC Beach Bums curates outdoor group trips to beaches, mountains for camping and skiing and rivers for tubing and rafting. They currently provide trips to Rockaway Beach for groups of up to 12 people. The vans leave from Long Island City, Sunnyside, Astoria, Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
In addition to transporting groups, the company also provides coolers, ice, wireless Bluetooth speakers and storage for surfboards with every trip. The Sunnyside-based company was started by Jacob Markovich and trips cost $250 for a group of 12.
NYC Beach Bus, which was started in 2013, services 800 New Yorkers with weekend trips to Rockaway Beach from Downtown Brooklyn, Manhattan and Union Square. In addition to hourly shuttles, the company provides chair and umbrella rentals and beverages.
According to Ayo Omojola, spokesperson for NYC Beach Bus, the company will soon incorporate pickups from Astoria as well. Starting July 4, NYC Beach Bus will pick up passengers from Broadway and 31st Street.
OvRride was started by Jamie Kiley, a New Jersey native who grew up surfing and skiing. He started transporting friends to ski spots in 2010 and the company grew to include trips to Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, New Jersey and parts of South America and Japan.
After Hurricane Sandy hit, Kiley and friends in the surfing and snowboarding community decided to volunteer their time transporting supplies and people to the area.
“One of our co-organizers said regardless of the efforts that the government was putting in the area, it just wasn’t enough,” Kiley said.
In the summer of 2014, OvRide began offering trips to Rockaway Beach as a way to introduce people to the area. Though they didn’t make a profit, Jamie said the trips were a way to support local businesses that were affected by the storm.
“It was a lot of fun and certainly it was a charity effort,” Kiley said. “We never really turned a coin on it. That also started to change people’s perceptions of how accessible the Rockaways were.”
Now, OvRride buses about 100 to 150 people each weekend to the beach from Bushwick, Williamsburg and the East Village, charging each customer $24.95 per round trip. The company partners with a handful of local businesses to give riders discounts on food, Narragansett beer, surf schools and more.
They’ve also teamed up with the organizers behind Rockaway Beach Bus, a Bushwick-based company, to introduce more people to the Rockaway Beach area.
Some of OvRride’s partners include Rippers, Breezy’s BBQ, City Sticks, Off Season Rockaway, Sayra’s Wine Bar, Station RBNY, Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Zingara Vintage, De La Mer 1981 and Playland Motel.
Kiley said that during the trips, he and his crew educate riders about the history of the area and the positive improvements Rockaway Beach is experiencing.
“One of the things that I try to continue, as well as the rest of our crew is just to remind people that things are on the other side, there’s still a lot going on,” Kiley said. “A lot of these businesses are coming back.”