As temperatures reached the upper 80s and lower 90s Sunday, tens of thousands sought relief from the heat at South Shore beaches, with several filled to capacity, officials said.
Roughly 45,000 visitors forced Robert Moses State Park to temporarily stop admitting beachgoers from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., said George Gorman, state parks deputy regional director for Long Island.
Traffic within miles of Robert Moses and Jones beaches had slowed to a crawl by early afternoon, leaving cars bumper-to-bumper and prompting some passengers to kick their feet up on the dashboard or document their misfortune on Snapchat.
For Chris Pisano, 30, of Holbrook the traffic had gotten so bad that he opted to park in Robert Moses Field 2 and make the 45-minute walk to the beach to meet up with his brother. “[My brother] is going to drive me back though, because he’s very good to me,” Pisano said, shooting at glance at his sibling. “My legs are killing me. I’m going to have to crawl to work tomorrow but yeah, it was worth it.”
During the hourlong closure at Robert Moses, beachgoers were turned away with the option of being diverted to Jones Beach, which reported 73,000 visitors, Gorman said.
Outer beaches at Cupsogue Beach County Park and Smith Point were also at their limit, according to Suffolk County Parks social media. “It’s the first beach day we’ve had this season,” Gorman said. “People wanted to get out and enjoy the beach day and they did.”
Fernanda Salinas, splayed out with her friends on bright pastel-colored towels at Robert Moses, said they’d chosen to avoid the larger crowds at Jones Beach. “The people here are nice and there are families, and it’s not too noisy,” said Salinas, 30, from Chihuahua, Mexico. “The other beaches are super noisy, with big speakers.”
As patrons crowd in for the summer, they need to be mindful of rip currents, said Greg Woods, Robert Moses Field 5 captain. He noted that lifeguards had made two rescues earlier that day.
“Swim where there’s a lifeguard, and swim with a buddy,” advised Woods, 62. “Just be careful. Don’t swim too far, and know your swimming ability.”
Up at Sunken Meadow, Jessica Magioncalda and her six-year-old son stood at the shoreline collecting seashells. She said she preferred the calmness of North Shore beaches.
“It’s perfect for the kids; any other beach we go to, the waves are a little too scary for them,” the 33-year-old from Coram said, looking down at Xavier.
Sunken Meadow State Park saw about 18,000 visitors Sunday, with about 5,000 of those patrons at the beach, according to the park’s office.
Donning a tan hat and holding a white and blue shell in his hand, Xavier thought about his favorite part about coming to the beach. “Mostly all of it,” he decided.