USA -  NEW JERSEY - TRAVEL - BEACHES

By: Dylan Skinner - Ono Vita

New Jersey Beaches

Lire en Francais

Seaside Heights Boardwalk - New Jersey Beaches - @ono_vita

Few serious travelers think of the New Jersey beaches as bucket list destinations, but before the invention of airplanes and the highway system, the beaches of New Jersey were one of the only places residents from New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, Ohio, or Pennsylvania ever got to see the Ocean. Even today, this is still true for some. For most in todays times, the beaches of New Jersey are a place to go when the hot and humid tristate summer is in full effect.

Often referred to as the “Jersey Shore”, the beaches of New Jersey stretch from Sandy Hook to Cape May, a distance of roughly 125 miles (200 km). At the northern end (Sandy Hook), NYC is visible, and at the southern end (Cape May), is the Delaware River. Four counties occupy the region; Monmouth County, Ocean County, Atlantic County, and Cape May County. There is differences between each of the communities, but the beaches themselves are quite similar. Deciding on which beach to visit really depends on the type of beach community you are looking for, and if you are coming from the New York City or the Philadelphia region.

The beaches are very busy every weekend of summer, but the best time to visit for warm weather and water is late summer and early fall. In September, schools start, summer ends, beach badges are no longer required (no lifeguards), prices drop, and as long as you can avoid hurricanes (unless you are a surfer), it is the least crowded time to visit. If you are looking for hot temperatures, beach bodies, happening parties, then we recommend July and August for the best time to visit.

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New Jersey Beaches Map

 

List of All New Jersey Beaches

 

New Jersey Beaches Map - @ono_vita

 

Best Beaches in New Jersey

What are the best New Jersey Beaches? If you are looking for the quick answer, the best beach in New Jersey is Cape May. Now since we have feed you the standard line, we can get on with what we think the best beaches are. A recent article by Travel Channel put Cape May at number 7 for the top beaches in America. Number 7! That just doesn’t make sense, as there are easily 10 beaches in Hawaii alone that are far superior to anything in New Jersey. Don’t get that wrong, New Jersey has wonderful beaches worth visiting, and Cape May is among the best, but we just don’t think it deserves a place in the top 10 of America. There are a large number of beaches in New Jersey that are very comparable, and the best should depend on what you value most from a beach. We break it down into four categories, and have select what we feel is the best for each category:

Best Beaches in New Jersey by Type of Beach

  • Best Private Beach – Island Beach State Park

  • Best Historical Boutique Style Beach – Cape May

  • Best Family Style Beach – Communities of Long Beach Island

  • Best Party Beach – Atlantic City

 

Island Beach State Park

IBSP

Island Beach State Park - New Jersey Beaches - @ono_vita

Island Beach State Park (IBSP) doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It is a protected park running roughly 10 miles from South Seaside Park to the Barnegat Inlet. It is one of the best places to see the undeveloped Jersey Shore, and escape the crowds. There is only one road in and out, and to enter, you pay by the car at the entrance. Within the park there are facilities for beach goers, lifeguard station 1 and 2. Each of these offer parking, refreshments, bathrooms, and lifeguard supervision. The issue with the lifeguard sections is they concentrate all the people, making it crowded just like any other Jersey Shore beach. However, if you continuing driving past the stations, there are a number of small parking sections, without facilities and lifeguards, that allow you to have a much more private beach experience. These areas also offer access for vehicles to enter the beach for the purpose of fishing. A word of warning, bring bug spray when the winds are coming from the west. IBSP is about the closet you will get to a private beach away from all the distractions. Island Beach State Park is without question my favorite beach on the Jersey Shore.

Cape May

Victorian Style

CAPE MAY, NJ

Cape May really consists of four communities (Cape May, West Cape May, Cape May Point, and Lower Township) at the very southern tip of the Jersey Shore. From Cape May, there are views across the Delaware River to the state of Delaware. The main historical area is located a few blocks off the beach, and has a pedestrian walking region full of boutique shops, fresh seafood restaurants, and classic New Jersey diners. The whole town is full of old Victorian style houses giving it a feel from the past. The beaches in Cape May are slightly different from the typical beach along the Jersey Shore, as the beach begins to wrap into the Delaware River, giving it a slight curvature with plenty of jetties. Beach badges are required to enter the beach during the summer season, and lifeguard are there to designate swimming locations. There is a boardwalk (made of concrete in Cape May) runs right behind the dunes running parallel to the beach, and is great for walking. Cape May is a perfect choice for a romantic weekend escape, and there are plenty of classic bed and breakfast establishments to stay at. If you are interested in history or wildlife, between Cape May Point and Cape May is a wildlife refuge and state park. Another charm about Cape May is Sunset Beach (part of Lower Township), which offers nice sunset views of the Delaware River, and is also dog friendly during certain hours.

 

Long Beach Island

 

LBI

Barnegat Lighthouse Sunset - Long Beach Island - New Jersey Beaches - @ono_vita

There are a number of family style beaches throughout the Jersey Shore. I have selected Long Beach Island, but similar things can be said for beaches like Ocean City or the boutique town of Avalon. What makes a beach a “family style” beach is areas built up with homes, restaurants, and beach shops. The kind of place that may be missing a massive boardwalk with games, or a water park. You can find groups of kids riding their bikes, families getting together for dinner parties, and surfers going out in the water for sunrise. Long Beach Island really consists of multiple communities strung together on an 18-mile-long island.  The towns include Surf City, Ship Bottom, Long Beach Township, Harvey Cedars, Beach Haven, and Barnegat Light. Towns like Harvey Cedars have only a small handful of commercial establishments, and is known for surfing. Barnegat light is located at the northern tip of the island, and you can climb the light house to get views of Island Beach State Park across the inlet. Long Beach Island is home to the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop, it has a local brewery (Ship Bottom Brewery), and you can get fresh seafood restaurants in nearly all communities. The beaches of Long Beach Island do require beach badges, and are staffed with lifeguards during the summer beach season. 

Atlantic City

 

AC

Atlantic City Boardwalk - New Jersey Beaches - @ono_vita

The best party beach can really be divided into two categories; Atlantic City (AC), and several other smaller beaches without casinos like Seaside Heights or Point Pleasant. Atlantic City is well known from the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. It is a casino city (2nd to Las Vegas in the United States), with a large boardwalk, piers, aquariums, and endless attractions. The beaches of Atlantic City are one of only a handful of beaches that allow free access to the beach. Often people wake up late from a long night in the casinos, and head out to the beach to recover. Atlantic City is one of the only places you will want to visit year-round, as the casinos are expansive enough to enjoy completely indoors. Atlantic City also has the AC Outlets, which consist of a few city blocks of shops like Nike, Timberland, Calvin Klein, and more. The outlets are known for having better than normal deals. If you are looking for a party town that is more affordable, and without casinos, consider Seaside Heights. It has a bit younger crowd, and is best known for its boardwalk, nightlife, and the MTV series “Jersey Shore”.

Surfing the New Jersey Beaches

Few people think of surfing when it comes to New Jersey, but there are some die hard surfers that reside in the state, and even some professionals that come to visit when the swell is pumping. Good surf spots can be found at the Jersey Shore from Sandy Hook to Cape May. As with all surf spots, finding good surf depends on a combination of the swell heights, swell directions, wind speeds, wind directions, orientation of the beach, and specific location conditions such as a pier blocking the wind. The best time of year is during hurricane season (late August until November). At the right location and time during hurricane season or after a nor’easter world class wave can be found. Water temperatures are best in summer and early fall, where you often are comfortable on hot days without a wet suit. In the spring time, and even very early summer, the water is still warming up, and a hot day does not mean warm water. Whereas in the fall, the water temperature takes longer to cool down, and a mild temperature day can be met with mild water temperatures. The winter is a monster of its own, water temperatures are cold, snow is on the beach, but still the surfers brave the temperatures for some epic winter swells. The summer time Jersey Shore is a great place to learn to surf, as the water is warm and swells are small. Life guards designate swimming regions, and surfers often have a section designated for them. Of season, or after hours, you can surf nearly anywhere. If you are interested in knowing more about surfing New Jersey, I suggest checking out www.surfline.com

 

Wildlife and Environment

 

The typical New Jersey Beach consists of a gradual whitish brownish sand beach coming out of the Atlantic Ocean with a greenish-brownish color. Some may think the water is dirty, but in fact this has to do with the temperature and nutrients (read more about the color here 943thepoint. The beach rises up above the high tide level and make its way to rolling sand dunes covered in beach grass. Often the dunes have lines of sand fences running along them, and a boardwalk on the back side. The dunes are critical for protection from storms, and man helps maintain them in height and depth to absorb the brunt of storms. The sand fence and grasses are critical in maintaining the dunes. The beach grass holds the sand in place, and the sand fence slows the wind which allows the blowing sand to deposit on the dune. During high tide, the surf normally breaks right on shore (shore break). During low tide, sandbars are sometimes nearly exposed to the waters surface, allowing the surf to break away from the shoreline. At low tide, between the shoreline and the sand bar, a channel will form. This channel can be dangerous as it washes the incoming swell out, forming a rip tide on the way out. Caution should always be taken when swimming in the ocean, and if you are no confident and experience, always swim under the supervision of a lifeguard. There are many creatures living along the Jersey Shore. Most commonly spotted will be the Seagulls. They are numerous, and can be pests (please don’t feed them as it only makes them worst, and can put them at danger). In spots like Island Beach State Park, there is little fox that runs around behind the dunes. Consider yourself lucky to see it. In the water exists all you can image, yes that means sharks. If you spend enough time at the beach you will likely spot dolphins, stingrays, and maybe even feel the small pinch of a crab when walking around on the sand bar at high tide.

Weather and Hurricanes

 

Weather remains consistent with the mid-Atlantic region. In the spring, waters are cold and the air temperatures warm up. In the summer, the air is hot and humid, and by mid-July the waters are pleasant. In the fall, the waters stay warm from the gulf stream, and the air temperatures slowly drop off. In the winter, both the air temperature is in the freezing, and the water temperatures stay just above. Two types of storms wreak havoc on the New Jersey Beaches; nor’easters, and hurricanes. The worst is the hurricanes. The hurricane season runs from Late August through October. In 2012, Hurricane sandy stuck the Jersey Shore square on causing tens of billions of dollars in damage. Some barrier island communities were devastated, which ocean water ripping straight through to the bay. Today, the beaches have been rebuilt better and stronger, and it is a perfect time to visit the beaches of New Jersey.