Guide To The Shore: Free v. Fee Beaches
South Jersey is home to some of the best beaches in the world! From Brigantine to Cape May, there are a multitude of beaches to explore. Whether you’re looking for a buzzing atmosphere or a family-friendly environment, the sandy beaches at the Jersey Shore create the ultimate playground. Grab your sunscreen, pull up a chair, gaze out at the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and enjoy Mother Nature at her finest! -Veronica Dudo
Atlantic City Beach is a free beach. It begins at Jackson Avenue on the southern end and stretches 3.4 miles to Maine Avenue in the inlet. Many casinos have beach bars along the shore as well as cabana, chair and umbrella rentals. Whether visitors are collecting seashells, enjoying a cocktail or getting their favorite frozen treats from the ice-cream man, Atlantic City beaches have a vast assortment of summer activities for all.
During the season, the beaches are guarded by one of the country’s oldest Beach Patrol organizations from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. at 50 locations. Surfing is permitted on three beaches: Crystal Beach at New Hampshire Avenue, the Delaware Avenue Beach and the Downtown Beach at Raleigh Avenue. However, lifeguards are not on duty at the surfing beaches. There are outdoor public showers, restrooms and handicap access ramps. Also available free of charge are handicap surf chairs on a first-come-first-serve basis. For more information call (609) 347-5312.
For more information about the Atlantic City Beach: www.atlanticcitynj.com/visitorsthingstodo/beaches/lifeguards.aspx
Wildwood beaches are free and open to the public, and their white powder-y sands stretch across five miles and are among the largest on the East Coast. The Wildwoods consist of Wildwood, North Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and West Wildwood.
The beaches offer an array of activities and attractions including championship volleyball tournaments, monster truck rallies, motocross races, Hobie Cat races, concerts and the Wildwoods International Kite Festival. Come out and discover why the Wildwoods’ have been included in the Travel Channel’s “America’s Best Beaches!”
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, beaches are guarded by the beach patrol from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in North Wildwood, Wildwood and Wildwood Crest.
Surf chairs are available by calling (609) 522-4646.
For more information about Wildwoods’ Beaches: www.wildwoodsnj.com/wildwood-NJ-beaches.cfm
Brigantine Beach is located on Absecon Island, a residential community north of Atlantic City, and is a little over 6 square miles. According to historical accounts, the legendary pirate Captain William Kidd buried treasure under Brigantine beach sand, which has never been recovered. Now, the pristine beach sees both locals and tourists enjoying its sandy shores. The supreme dream is to soak up the sun while lying on the beach, then cool off with a dip in the deep blue sea or watch the kids build castles in the sand—you never know you might just find that buried treasure!
Lifeguards patrol the beaches and surfing is permitted at the 12th Street North and 10th Street South beaches, the North and South End Jetty and south of the Sandy Lane bathing area. Beach tags are required; daily beach tags are $8, weekly tags are $14 and summer season tags are $18. There are special rates for senior citizens and children under 12 years old are free. Handicap surf chairs are available by calling (609) 266-5233.
For more information about Brigantine Beach: www.brigantinebeachnj.com/beach_tags.html
Longport Beach is located at the southern tip of Absecon Island, just south of Margate and Ventnor. The beach is small and quiet, clean and serene, with sunbathing, kayaking and surfing. Beach badges are required for all beach patrons over the age of 12. Regular beach tags are $15 and tags for senior citizens are $5.
Guarded beaches are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information about ocean water conditions, lifeguards place “Beach Warning Flags” atop their lifeguard stands: green means safe, yellow means caution, red is hazardous and red flags with the no swimming sign indicate that no swimming is allowed.
For more information about Longport Beach: www.longport-nj.us/content/143/149/default.aspx
Margate City Beach is a popular destination that is located in the middle of Absecon Island and is home to the famed Lucy the Elephant. Beginning on the Ventnor side at Fredericksburg Avenue and ending at Coolidge Avenue on the Longport side, the city is 1.50 miles long and one mile in width at its widest point. While this beach is narrower than others, people continue to flock here, creating a packed party atmosphere all summer long.
Margate beaches are lifeguard protected from Memorial Day through Labor Day 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Hobie Cat sailing is allowed by permit only, and kayaking and surfing are permitted only at specific beaches. Beach Badges are required for everyone 12 and older. Starting June 1, all badges are $15.
Curious about the weather down the shore? Before you head to the beach, check out Margate’s webcam: http://http://188.8.131.52:8000/
For more information about Margate City Beach: www.margate-nj.com/cfm_docs/rec_beach.cfm
Cape May Beach has been ranked the 9th best beach in the world and the 2nd best in the nation by TripAdviser.com. The City of Cape May is a National Historical Landmark and has the distinction of being the nation’s oldest seaside resort. From Higbee Beach to Poverty Beach, Cape May is a beach-lovers’ utopia.
Cap May is situated at southernmost tip of New Jersey, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay. Cape May is comprised of three small towns: Cape May City, West Cape May and Cape May Point.
Beach tags are required for all beachgoers over the age of 12. Daily tags are $5, three-day tags are $10, weekly tags are $13 and tags for the season are $25.
During the summer, lifeguards are on-duty until 5:30 p.m. Cape May’s public restrooms are called “Comfort Stations” and can be found on the Washington Street Mall and Washington Commons, as well as along the beach and promenade. These buildings have heating, air-conditioning, running water, soap and electric hand dryers. There are also open, beachfront showers for guests to wash away the sand. Surf chairs are free of charge and available for people with mobility impairments. For more information call (609) 884-9525.
For more information about Cape May Beach: www.capemay.com/activities/cape-may-beaches.html
Ventnor City Beach is right next to Atlantic City. If you’re ready for something more than swimming and sunbathing, grab some gear and enjoy kayaking, boogie boarding, surfing and volleyball.
Surfing is permitted alongside the fishing pier at Cornwall Avenue during daylight hours. The City of Ventnor requires beach badges for the beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Beach tags are available at a rate of $15 for the season, and weekly badges are $10.
Handicap beach access is available at Suffolk and the Beach, and at Newport and the Beach.
For more information about Ventnor City Beach: www.ventnorcity.org/beachpatrol.asp
Ocean City Beach is the northernmost seashore resort in Cape May County, and it’s known as “America’s Greatest Family Resort.” With its beautiful white sand beaches, wholesome atmosphere and dry town regulations, the community attracts many families. Located in the heart of the Jersey Shore, the city hosts several events during the summer season for visitors and locals. Beloved events include the annual “Pamper Scamper,” the “Ocean City Pieasco,” “The Business Persons Plunge,” the “Saltwater Taffy Sculpting Contest,” “Extreme Hermit Crab Wrestling,” and “That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles.”
Ocean City was named one of the Top American Surf Towns by Surfer Magazine. During the summer season, seasonal passes are $25, weekly passes are $10, and daily passes are $5.
The Surf Chair Program is based out of the Ocean City Sports & Civic Center and is located on 6th Street at the Boardwalk. For more information about this program, call (609) 525-9304.
For more information about Ocean City Beach: www.ocnj.us/do-listings_beaches.asp
Sea Isle City Beach is an ocean-side paradise with plenty of areas to launch a wave runner, catamaran, kayak, sailboat, play volleyball, windsurf or even go surf fishing. Sea Isle City is surrounded by natural beauty and was once a sleepy fishing community; the beach town now offers lots of sea-faring activities while continuing to remain true to its roots.
Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Beach tags for the season are $20. For a week, they cost $10, and for the day, $5.
Surf Chairs are available at the 44th Street Beach Patrol Headquarters or by calling (609) 263-6000, ext. 19.
For more information about Sea Isle City Beach: www.seaislebeach.com
Stone Harbor Beach is situated on the southern end of the barrier island known as Seven Mile Island. The tiny seaside town is also an upscale resort. About a mile more windward, this barrier island creates a refreshing sea breeze and has high sand dunes, which are protected and are home to plants and animals. Stone Harbor is famous for its 21-acre bird sanctuary, a registered National Landmark.
Beach tags are required for those over the age of 12. Seasonal tags are $21, weekly tags are $12 and daily tags are $6. Stone Harbor beaches accept Avalon beach tags, and Stone Harbor beach tags are also accepted on Avalon beaches.
Swimming, rafts and surfboards are permitted at designated beaches only. Surfboards (with leashes attached) are only permitted at the 81st and 110th Street beaches. Kayaks are permitted at 122nd Street through 126th Street only, and life jackets must be worn at all times while in the water.
For more information about Stone Harbor Beach: www.stone-harbor.nj.us/beach_tag.asp
Avalon Beach is a seaside vacation destination centrally located in Cape May County. With its gentle surf, natural dunes, wide beach and competent life guards, Avalon beach was named, “the best beach in New Jersey” by The Washingtonian Magazine.
During the summer, beach tags for the season are $26, weekly tags are $12, and daily tags are $6. Avalon beaches accept Stone Harbor beach tags, and Avalon beach tags are accepted on Stone Harbor beaches. Also, Avalon has free parking.
Surf Chairs are available by calling (609) 967-7587.
For more information about Avalon Beach: www.avalonboro.org/beachptrl.htm