Oh, summer -- it's been a long time coming this year. From beaches to boating, and so much in between, there's so much to squeeze in this season. Here are our 10 favorite ways to play in or around the water on Long Island.
HIT LONG BEACH'S NEW BOARDWALK
Whether you're strolling along the boardwalk or sunning on the sand, Long Beach has your hunger covered. The city's newly reconstructed boardwalk will be punctuated, at block intervals, with 11 carts serving cold drinks, ice cream, frozen yogurt and, at the western terminus, Gentle Brew coffee. The beach itself, from Georgia Avenue to Maple Boulevard, will be served by vendors as well. And Shoregasboard -- the convocation of food trucks where Riverside Boulevard hits the beach -- is back, with mobile eateries from seven local restaurants including Corazon de Cuba, Sugo Cafe and Lido Kosher Deli.
GET YOUR SHARK ON
Blame it on last year's viral TV movie "Sharknado" or the enduring appeal of "Jaws," but the sharp-tooths are having a moment. They're the stars of their own summer fishing tournaments from Freeport to Bay Shore and Montauk -- spectators often crowd the docks at day's end to see top catches weighed. Decidedly less gory: See a RiffTrax screening of "Sharknado" with wisecracking comments in select movie theaters July 10 and 15 ($12.50, rifftraxlive.com).
SEE BEACH FLAG FOOTBALL
These aren't casual pickup games. Co-ed teams of serious beach flag football players will vie in what's said to be the Island's first tournament of the sort, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 7-8 at Jones Beach State Park, Field 4 ($10 parking, firstname.lastname@example.org).
TAKE A WHALE-WATCHING DAY CRUISE
If seeing fin and humpback whales in the wild is on your agenda, know that The Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island offers summer whale-watching day trips 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sundays, June 29-Aug. 24 and Sept. 1 aboard the Viking Fleet from Montauk. Trips were 100 percent successful last year, organizers say, meaning passengers saw whales and/or dolphins on every excursion ($75 adults, $49 ages 5-12, 631-668-5700, cresli.org).
GO FISH AT CAPTREE
Captree Boat Basin in Babylon is an easy place to jump on a charter boat for full- or half-day fishing trips -- all gear provided. About two dozen boats dock here. Snag a spot for a specific trip in advance or simply show up a half-hour before sailing time and walk the dock, where captains stand on the bows of their boats hawking their trips (631-669-6969, captreefleet.com).
VISIT THE SMORGASBAR
New on Jones Beach boardwalk: an outdoor food court with vendors from Brooklyn (think fries with artisan dipping sauces). There's also an area with ping-pong, horseshoes and boccie courts. And there's the bar, in a shipping container perched seaside, serving local craft brews. Open Memorial Day and Fridays-Sundays until June 16, then daily through Labor Day (516-785-1600, http://nysparks.com).
SPLASH WITH THE PIRATES
Coming later this summer at Splish Splash in Calverton: the Battle of Mutiny Bay, a new water ride involving rafts outfitted with water-shooting cannons for riders to shoot at other boats. Or aim at landlubbers manning their own water guns along the edge of the course. Ahoy! ($31-$41, 631-727-3600, splishsplash.com).
GO BOATING WITH THE BAYMEN
Consider taking a 3-hour-tour with those who spend their lives on the water. The Long Island Traditions program puts folks who've been active in the Island's boating community at the helm of various ships to narrate cruises with demonstrations -- learn to hold a clam rake or carve decoys -- and the history behind the local waters. Trips leave from Bay Shore (June 1) and Freeport (Oct. 12); $40 adults, $20 younger than 16. Also, visit bay houses owned by hunters and fishermen on tours from Freeport ($50, Aug. 16 and Sept. 13, 516-767-8803, longislandtraditions.org).
ZUMBA ON THE BEACH
Instead of just a leisurely stroll along the shore, why not work up a sweat? Enjoy a hip-twisting, fat-burning Zumba class at Corey Beach in Blue Point at 8:30 a.m. Saturday mornings May 31-July 12 (no class July 5). It's $40 for six sessions -- plus $20 parking if you're not a resident (631-451-8696, brookhaven.org).
Sand, surfers and a laid-back summer vibe are the staples in Montauk, the "un-Hamptons" of the South Fork. Sure it's a long drive -- but once there, make like a beach bum and catch a wave at Ditch Plains Beach. Parking is notoriously hard to snag without risking a ticket, but Sunset Surf Shack will give you a lift to the sand and a lesson ($175 for 2 hours, 631-668-2495). Call it a day with a fresh lobster roll at your pick of waterview seafood shacks.