Balmy weather and cloudless skies drew thousands of people across Long Island to the South Shore's beaches Sunday.
Long Beach's sandy white beach was at capacity, with nearly every inch of its 3-mile expanse covered with a mixture of regulars and city-dwellers in search of a weekend escape.
"When you come here, it really feels like summer," said Yolanda Maka, 55, of Lindenhurst. "You don't feel like you're on Long Island; you feel like you're on your own little island."story Fun in the sun: A guide to sunscreen
Farther east, at Robert Moses State Park in Babylon, beachgoers enjoyed the water's mild currents. Commack resident Olivia Longstreet rode her new boogie board in search of the perfect wave.
"I have to go deeper so I can get bigger waves," said Olivia, 12. "It feels fun when you're going into a wave and you're going really, really fast down."
Lifeguard Jeffrey Yablon, 46, said July's moderate waves made it an ideal time for swimming, adding that choppier waves arrive in August.
James Angelos, a landscaper from West Babylon, said he has been coming to Robert Moses State Park since he was 3.
Angelos, 50, said he works during the week, "but I decompress right here."
In Long Beach, idle beach time wasn't the only activity for visitors. This weekend has been particularly festive, with live music, fireworks on Friday, and a weekend arts and crafts fair on the boardwalk.
Long Beach Parks and Recreation Supervisor Matt Kohut, 36, said Sunday he expected about 15,000 visitors to the boardwalk. The fair occupied a significant portion of the boardwalk's 2.2-mile stretch, with the rest swarmed by people running and biking.
Adrienn Daniel, 35, of Plainview, said she makes the combined two-hour bus and train commute weekly. Daniel, an avid fan of the film "The Little Mermaid," wore a lilac seashell bikini to resemble the Disney princess, of whom she has a colorful tattoo stretching down her back.
Daniel said she comes to the beach for the fresh air and to bask in the sun for a dose of vitamin D. "It's actually good to be in a bikini in the summer," she said. "It's free. Vitamin D pills are not."
Mike Dunn, a cement and oil driver who lives in Valley Stream, keeps a weekly Sunday beach appointment armed with just a beach chair, a fishing pole and a lunch.
It's his alone time, and he's back home by the time his wife returns from church, he said.
"It's not like I wouldn't spend the day here if I had the choice," joked Dunn, 53.
"I work six days a week, so I try to squeeze what I can on Sunday."