When fall settles in at the Jersey shore, birders come out in droves. So do nature seekers, diamond hunters and breach strollers. It’s a special time at the southernmost tip of the Garden State where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay at Cape May Point. So, what’s there to do and see? Follow me. – Jay Lloyd

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

BIRD WATCHING

Grab your Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds and head south from Cape May on Sunset Boulevard to the Cape May Point State Park. A large viewing platform has been erected overlooking a lake teeming with sea birds that rest here during their annual fall migration. On weekends, the platform is busy with birders loaded with long lens cameras, high power binoculars and tripods. They are serious, but don’t be intimidated. Join in with whatever equipment you have or just use your eyes. The view is splendid here as hawks, eagles and owls add to the fascination. The park also holds three nature trails ranging from half-a-mile to two miles long with bird blinds and shore side viewing stops.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

LOFTY VIEW

If you have the stamina for a 219 step climb on a spiral stairway, you can scale the 160 foot, 19th century lighthouse that’s located right alongside the park. The view from the light platform takes in the changing autumn colors and a spectacular vista over nearby marshland, and covers both the Atlantic and Delaware Bay seascapes.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

DIAMOND HUNTING

Did you know that the smooth, nearly translucent stones found on Cape May Point’s Sunset Beach have been carried there by the currents all the way from the Delaware Water Gap? The journey can take thousands of years. The passage polishes these quartz crystal stones to make them smooth to the touch. Diamond hunters here use them for decoration or tumble them in a stone polisher to a clear diamond-like appearance to be set in rings and pendants. Or you can buy them already set as jewelry pieces at the Sunset Beach Gift Shop.

FALL FISHING

Bring a fishing rod and cast from a Sunset Beach jetty in sight of the partially sunken hulk of a World War one concrete ship. Those plentiful bluefish are the quest here. You’ve got a good chance to score the freshest seafood dinner at the shore!

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

FERRY GAZING

Autumn is the ideal time to stroll the long, broad beach that curves around the point and wanders off toward the docks where the Cape May – Lewes ferries board and discharge passengers. Meandering along the beach and watching the ferries arrive and depart provides the long-lost sensation of ship-watching during the heyday of the great ocean liners. If you’re bitten by the view, take the cruise yourself. Half-a-day should cover the roundtrip and a lunch ashore, or just dine and sip your way across the bay and back. Find all the info here.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

FARM STOP

It’s pumpkin time at the shore, and the locals love to decorate. As you leave Cape May Point, make a slight detour off Sunset Boulevard to Aunt Rea’s Farm at Bayshore Road and Stevens Street. They grow their own pumpkins and make a rare Jersey shore treat, beach plum jam and jelly. The beach plum grows wild on dunes and along the shoreline. By itself the fruit isn’t anything to nosh as you pick, but the jams are great for pretzel and cracker dipping.

Tip: Autumn at Cape May Point brings both bright sunshine and brisk winds. Dress in layers. On the beach, you’ll feel the chill, but in protected areas and on nature trails, it can be very summer-like. Definitely bring binoculars and a camera, too.