Beach 8th Street, Queens

New York
USA East


Submitted By:
Bob Sterner

Submitter Comments:
Bob Sterner (Sterner Editorial) is the editor of Northeast Dive News, and has submitted the following:

A Paradise Not Lost
By Bob Sterner

What's old is new is the good news about Almost Paradise. Beach 9th Street, Far Rockaway, Queens, N.Y., is back to being called Beach 8th Street, for the traditional hole in the fence that's given so much pleasure to generations of divers, local fishermen and kids splashing into the cool eddy between the jetties that form the site. Diving here no longer costs $20 a head for everyone in the car to park in the now closed Almost Paradise lot, although I'd still be glad to do so for the showers and facilities to rinse salt out of gear while getting a burger and a soda after a nice dive.

Riding the tide change to the bridge and back is discouraged in post-9/11 days, although serious tautog spear-fishers still return from there with dinner. At least they know what they're bagging. Shore fishers bring home lots of dinner too from this thriving patch of sand just off JFK Airport's runways. When dinner divers miss a shot, they missed it. When shore fishers lose a fish, their bottom tackle stays on the bottom hooking and killing sea creatures for decades.

A fish killed wantonly that Barbara Krooss caught me looking at not long ago tells the story of glittery bottom tackle underwater. It's there to kill generations of fish unless you cut it off and remove it from pilings and other underwater obstructions. It might sound counter-productive, but you can make friends with the shore fishers who hate you for blowing bubbles around their favorite cast sites if you return the bounty of hooks, weights, spinners and other lures that they lost underwater. At the base of the piling where this fish lost its life to a lure we found a horseshoe crab barely alive and hopelessly snarled in a tangle of fishing line. It didn't stick around for a portrait after being freed.

Otherwise little has changed at the humble beach where thousands of divers have earned their c-cards. Divers still queue up a half-hour before high and low slack tide for optimum visibility. Many still avoid the crowd by diving as the current runs by ducking behind pilings. It's great training for low-vis conditions at a place where you can't get lost so long as you can follow a compass needle north to the shore. At mid-channel, high-tide, it is about 40 feet to the surface, but you don't want to go there because of heavy boat traffic. Lobsters, crabs, flounders, bergals, sponges, mussels and plants galore that drew divers to this humble site decades ago are still there for those willing to venture through the hole in the fence to see what's beneath the waves of Reynolds Channel.

See more photos and stories of diving this and other sites at Sterner Editorial.

 Found in the Rockaways, near JFK Airport in New York City


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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

05/09/2016 Christine from Queens (Avg: 2.12 Review) - The composition of the bottom has drastically changed. Once you go into the channel the visibility does get a bit better.

05/09/2016 Angel (Avg: 2.95 Review) - It pains me to write this review about a location that has always held a special place for me. My original open water certification was done here at Beach 8th/9th when Almost Paradise was still open and since those first dives I have gone back there too many times to count both for fun and to work classes as a DM. My first experience there was not what I would call the best. I was a little disconcerted by the current and the low visibility. I wondered, like many students after me, WTF?! I was, and is, such a convenient site for me though that I could not help but go back and I was so glad I did. The variety of life, both plant and fish, is astounding and the night dives there are amazing. I saw my first sea horse there, shown to me by my buddy Cosmo, and was so surprised I almost spit the regulator out of my mouth. I have liberated black fish that were caught on lines that were snagged on rocks or even the cages. I have seen horseshoe crabs getting busy (and left them to their business). My first experience with bio-luminescence was there and that was a very special night dive as it was when I first met my wife Christine. I have been on night dives there and seen so many spider crabs that they looked like a blanket covering the bottom. I would always tell students that they needed to keep an open mind. That it was not always dark and ominous. My buddy Cosmo and I did one dive there on a Memorial Day where the visibility was more than 40 feet (I kid you not). It was a gorgeous day and the beach was packed with bathers and divers and yet when we stood on the shore we could actually see the cages!!! Not your typical conditions for this location but there you have it. Divers will complain about the cold but I have dove there in August with only a 3mm and been more than comfortable. So... you may be asking yourselves at this point why my review begins as it does. Unfortunately Beach 8th has undergone quite a change. Ever since Sandy paid us her visit the site is no longer as it was. I cannot say if it was simply a result of Sandy or it has to do with the dumping that goes on nearby or what the reason might be but the result has been drastic. The bottom composition is now a fine silt that becomes a dark and eerie cloud if one gets too close. The visibility, which could be anywhere from 4 to 40 feet depending on the day you were there, has now become a sad memory. My last dive there was 1/1/16. Our Club's New Year's Day dive. My buddy Don Preus and I went in to welcome in the New Year as we have often done in the past and were saddened by the visibility which was somewhere in the neighborhood of a whopping 3 inches. Ouch! And this, unfortunately, has become the norm rather than the exception. I don't know if this will eventually change. I certainly hope so but in the meantime I will always have fond memories of the Beach 8th/9th that was and that showed me so much of her wonderful beauty.

03/20/2010 Joseph R Gessert (Avg: 3.33 Review) - I've done a dozen dives at Beach 8th over the last two years. The marine life is tremendous--skates, pipefish, lobster, blackfish, seasonal tropicals, and of course abundant crabs and sea stars. The entry is easy and navigation simple. The fishermen, however, can be very aggressive, and are souring me on the site. I have had my flag intentionally snagged several times now while I was with students, the last time by a surly off-duty police officer. The number of fishing lines in the water on a nice day can be downright dangerous. When diving there I recommend setting a course straight south across the channel so as to avoid the fishermen on either side. That said, it's still amazing to see so much wildlife in the middle of NYC.

01/27/2009 Eightreale (Avg: 3.49 Review) - I have been diving on beach 8th street since 1980 long before almost paradise came along and ruined it! For years the same smiling faces showed up on a regular if not daily basis to dive. We had no worries about our cars, our kids knew each other and we all looked out for each other. One of the dive shops would organize beach cleanups where we would remove all the trash we could find from the water and beach. Afterwards they would feed everyone. The entire end of the street would be filled with divers and families sharing BBQ and stories and the occasional cerveza (AFTER ALL DIVING ACTIVITIES). The came for almost paradise and from that moment paradise was lost forever. We were forced to either pay this guy or you could not dive on a beach where we had dived even long before I came onto the scene. He put up a fence to block access and if we decided to dive from the wall he would call the cops to harass us. Ironically this was supposed to be a divers service center but that did not stop him from allowing the launching of jet skis right from the beach that divers were using! The best thing that ever happened there is the closing of this lousy facility. Good riddance Jay wherever you are! Now that things are somewhat back to normal I take my thirteen and eighteen year old sons there. Unfortunately for the years that Jay was there a lot of seasoned divers stopped going there. Hopefully they will return and bring some new friends.

10/08/2008 Bob Sterner (Avg: 2.75 Review) - I've returned to Beach 9th St., actually Beach 8th now that Almost Paradise is kaput. Actually I like it better. No fees for diving what used to be a free beach access. Divers still queue up at the changing of the tide. Instructors dip their guppies as in days gone by. Hopefully development can be dissuaded. That might be a silver lining in the credit / real estate crash of '08.

07/03/2006 Jason NYC (Avg: 2.27 Review) - I thought I would give an update for Beach 8th Street, formerly called Almost Paradise, the name of the business that used to run a shore diving facility here. Basically that now means park at your own risk and use the potty before you arrive or go in the water. Two years ago I first dove here and it was a great little property in Queens but Almost Paradise has since closed. Construction has not begun, and doesn't look like it will begin anytime soon, on the condos slated to be built here on the beach. Someone has removed a bit of the fence so access to this little piece of beach is once again possible (and has been for some time) but who knows for how long. SO, here is the honest skinny on what is now Beach 8th Street as of today. First, you MUST dive at slack tide and carry a dive flag. Boat traffic and currents are relentless otherwise. Don't let this scare you though. Once slack arrives the place turns into a big bathtub. Very calm. Second, be prepared for visibility as low as 1 foot (yes ONE) or as good as 10 feet but probably 5 or less like we had today. Third, this is an interesting part of NYC. You are basically diving off the beach in Far Rockaway by JFK airport, in the middle of low income housing units and adult assisted living communities. It is safe, but just keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings. Most of the characters you WILL see are harmless. Slack tide also brings 30+ divers on weekends so you won't be alone. My favorite part of today was listening to a local fellow puke as we suited up, lol. Fourth, make sure you park on the Beach 8th street side and not Beach 9th street or you won't have access to the safest diving location. If you have a GPS then park by the Rockaway Manor Home for Adults (145 Beach 8th St Far Rockaway, NY 11691) and center on N40 35.728 W73 44.579. Arrive early, maybe 1+ hrs early or more, or you won't get parking due to other divers and classes. Suit up at your car after checking out the sandy beach entrance. Fifth, the dive has lots of life like snails, crabs, horse shoe crabs, bass, lobster, jellyfish, Corona bottles, fluke, mussels, kelp and god knows what else. Temps on 7/2/06 were 60f at 20 feet. Depths to 40+ but that takes you into the boat channel. This is an easy but low viz dive as long as you go at slack. Also, watch out for fishing line and people casting from the rocks. Finally, This ( dive shop lists current slack tides and can assist with rentals and info too, as they seem to always be there on weekends with classes. Have fun and see you there! If you dive at the end of the summer, you may even see tropicals.

09/27/2005 Daniel Epstein (Avg: 3.00 Review) - The shop "Almost Paradise" in NY is closed. The same stretch of beach is still accessible from Beach 8th St. Rumor has it that it may not be accessible for long. Stay tuned for further details...

03/18/2005 Bob Sterner (Avg: 3.00 Review) - Request for Information: I'm now editing a new regional magazine Northeast Dive News, that will debut at BTS. I'm very interested in having someone follow-up on Beach 9th Street. If you have any current information on the condition and future of the site, please write me at [nediver (at) sternereditorial (dot) com]- Thank you!

01/08/2005 Jimmy from Oceanside (Avg: 2.18 Review) - See The place was nice before the fences were put up. We always had a great time there because there were no other places in NY on the water like this. It was really nice. The beach was beautiful until the fences were put up. Slum Beach is what we divers call it now.

11/05/2004 Jason NYC (Avg: 2.26 Review) - This review is being written based on what Almost Paradise NOW looks like after a developer purchased the property. At one time, this spot was a great place to do a nice one hour dive with nice facilities and a secure parking lot in an area of NYC that can be described as tough if you didn't grow up here. The visibility rarely exceeds 10-15 ft., the temp rarely goes above 70 at the surface, and the current will take you out to sea if you don't dive it at slack. The boat traffic is very busy. Marine life is plentiful for a low viz dive. Lobster, crab, tons of horseshoe crab, starfish and a few other fish. While I did see some trash, the water was surprisingly clean for a NYC shore dive. No needles or beer bottles, but that may change now that divers aren't protecting the water. In the late summer some folks saw tropicals. A small fee was gladly paid for the facilities that used to exist. Rumors exist that the developer is going to build a compressor on the new property (housing) and open again in the future but this has not yet been confirmed as of 11/3/04. Now, you have to crawl through a fence (read 'maybe illegal') to dive here and the parking options are scary at best. The beach isn't bad so bring a non diver with you to watch your car and stuff. The non diver shouldn't need someone to watch him or her. It's not that bad. I almost wrote this review under the "Beach 8th Street" name because another name for Almost Paradise was Beach 9th Street. Yep, just one street away in Queens, NY. Just a short drive from JFK airport if you aren't familiar with the area. The big difference was the small fee for the secure facilities and parking offered. Worth it! Too bad we lost this one. Some still dive it, but I haven't been back since it was "Almost" Paradise, if ya know what I mean.

Dive Site Pictures:
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Special thanks to Bob Sterner!
Submitted by Bob Sterner

Special thanks to Bob Sterner!
Underwater view.
Submitted by Bob Sterner

Special thanks to Christine!
The Gang.
Submitted by Christine

Special thanks to Christine!
Submitted by Christine

Special thanks to Christine!
Our Divers.
Submitted by Christine

Special thanks to Christine!
Me before.
Submitted by Christine

Special thanks to Christine!
Me after.
Submitted by Christine

Special thanks to Christine!
Amiguito and Nena.
Submitted by Christine

Special thanks to Christine!
Suiting up.
Submitted by Christine

Special thanks to Christine!
Submitted by Christine

Special thanks to Christine!
Russ and Elliot.
Submitted by Christine

Special thanks to Christine!
Drysuit Diving.
Submitted by Christine

Special thanks to Christine!
Submitted by Christine


Diver Averages for  Beach 8th Street, Queens  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  4.30
Bottom Conditions:  2.30
Reef Conditions:  2.30
Animal Life:  3.10
Plant Life:  2.40
Facilities:  1.60
Solitude 2.20
Roads:  3.50
*Site Average:  2.73

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  2.20
Beginner Scuba:  2.80
Intermediate Scuba:  3.30
Advanced Scuba:  3.10
Night diving Scuba:  3.10

Number of reviews for this site: 10


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