New Jersey is famous for a lot of things, but of all its attractions, its 130 miles of shoreline is perhaps its most noteworthy. Stretching all the way from Sandy Hook in the north to Cape May in the south, its shoreline is littered with secluded coves, miles of boardwalk, charming resort towns, and picture-perfect views. Regardless of whether you're visiting in spring, summer, fall, or winter, no trip to New Jersey is complete without checking out at least a few of its beaches. Here's our pick of the 20 New Jersey beaches you shouldn't miss.
20. Avon by the Sea
Avon by the Sea is located just a short hop, skip and a jump for Ashbury Park. Avon by the Sea boasts a beautiful beach that's open all year round. You will, however, need to purchase a beach pass during the summer months in order to gain access to the beach between 9 am and 5 pm. It might seem a hassle, but with a lovely beach to enjoy, trained lifeguards on patrol, and a plethora of shops, restaurants, amenities, and beach activities to take advantage of, it's worth the effort.
19. Island Beach State Park
If you're looking for a quiet, relaxing stretch of shore where you can truly relax and unwind, Island Beach State Park is perfect. Located on the south end of Barnegat Peninsula, it offers stunning views over the beautiful Barnegat Lighthouse and a ton of opportunities for recreation, including swimming, biking, bird watching, and fishing. With ten miles of rugged sand dunes, crystal clear waters, and gorgeous beach forest, it's unquestionably one of NJ's hidden gems.
Wildwood beach is the widest in NJ - in some places, the space between the boardwalk and the oceanfront is a massive 500 yards wide, with the result that it's a hugely popular place for events like live music concerts and monster truck rallies. Even if there's nothing organized for the day of your visit, you'll not go bored thanks to the plethora of amusement park rides, bars, restaurants, and shops that clutter the seafront. If you're looking for tranquility and seclusion, this isn't the beach for you. If you want a lively atmosphere and more fun than you can pack into a month of Sundays, it's ideal.
17. Asbury Park
As purewow.com notes, while Ashbury Park's beaches are nice enough, you really come here for the scene of it all. Depending on which part you find yourself in, you can either expect a riot of people, music, and entertainment, or a chilled, laid-back vibe that's perfect for relaxation. If you prefer a livelier environment, head for the Ocean Avenue boardwalk, a vibrant, colorful place offering superb sea views and more entertainment and live music than you'll know what to do with. For a quieter atmosphere, make your way over to North Beach just a little north of the Convention Hall.
16. Ocean Grove
Stretched over 640 acres, Ocean Grove is a small, peaceful beachfront town that's ideal for families looking to escape the hordes and enjoy some calm vibes and top-notch beach action. The flat sands and shallows waters are perfect for little ones, while the presence of lifeguards, clean bathrooms, and showers don't go amiss. To top it off, there's a very pleasant boardwalk to enjoy a few leisurely strolls along.
As familydestinationsguide.com notes, Avalon is a peaceful seaside community scattered with charming homes, colorful boats, and impressive yachts. The vibe is laid back and relaxed, making it the perfect destination for beach lovers who prefer a quieter beach experience than some of NJ's trendier hotspots offer. Its half-mile boardwalk offers stunning views over the ocean - come at sunset or sunrise if you can. The beach itself is lovely - quiet enough to relax on, but with enough activities (including surfing, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, volleyball, frisbee, and windsurfing) to keep boredom at bay.
14. Sea Girt
Sea Girt is nice enough, but the real reason to come here is for the landscaped boardwalk, which boasts some of the best views over the ocean in New Jersey. Other popular pastimes include surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing. If you're looking for a relaxing beach destination with laid-back vibes and a tranquil atmosphere, it's perfect. Just be aware that visitors are required to hold seasonal badges, which can be purchased at multiple points along the front. Parking is free, and lifeguards are on duty from Father's Day through Labor Day.
Over the last few years, the Lavallette shoreline has undergone extensive regeneration work to ensure its protection from coastal storms and flood generations, and preserve its beauty for future generations. A calm, laid-back place that's ideal for beachcombers looking to enjoy the beach without having to suffer armies of tourists in the process, it offers peaceful walks along the oceanfront, a wide sandy beach to enjoy, and designated areas for swimming and surfing during the beach bathing season. There are also excellent opportunities for fishing and crabbing off its two bayfront docks.
12. Point Pleasant Beach
Point Pleasant Beach isn't as big as some of NJ's more well-known beach destinations, but it's got more than enough to keep beach lovers happy. The tide can get a little choppy, but there are lifeguards on duty if you fancy taking a dip. If you'd rather stick to dry land, you can take a stroll along Jenkinson's Boardwalk, enjoy a game of miniature golf, or hit the amusement park rides. If you get peckish, there are plenty of eateries to test out, including a very swanky gourmet pizza joint and an old-fashioned sweet shop that's stocked to the brim with retro goodies.
11. Seaside Heights
Seaside Heights is the setting for the MTV reality show "Jersey Shore." If you've seen the show, you'll know exactly what to expect. If you haven't, prepare for a raucous, lively atmosphere, crowds of scantily clad twenty-somethings, more bars than grains of sand, and a ton of entertainment options, including a waterpark, a Ferris wheel, and a roller coaster. It's quite possibly one of the tackiest stretches of shore in NJ, but if you're looking for a good time, it's hard to beat. Just be aware that with the exception of Bay Beach, all public beaches on Seaside Heights will cost you $8 a day to access.
10. Brigantine Beach
Located around 5 miles northeast of Atlantic City, Brigantine Beach offers a more relaxed, quieter atmosphere than its lively cousin. There are designated areas for fishing, swimming, and surfing, along with grills for barbecuing on the beach and free movies nights throughout the summer months. Despite its charms, it's relatively unknown, making it perfect for beach lovers looking to enjoy the holy trinity of sun, sea, and sand without having to jostle for elbow space.
You'd think that the beaches of Atlantic City would be teeming with tourists. In reality, most people are too busy inside playing on the slots to bother dipping their toes in the sand. Aside from their relative tranquility, Atlantic City beaches have another big plus working in their favor - they're free, which isn't something you can say about most public beaches in NJ. Once you get bored of surfing, fishing, and kayaking, take the advice of vacationidea.com and head for the famous boardwalk to enjoy some eating, shopping, sea gazing, and a very fun ride on the wicker rolling chair (yep, it's a real thing).
The 1.3 mile long Belmar beach is small but beautiful, with tranquil waters, soft, pristine sands, and a good assortment of amenities, including beach chair/ umbrella rentals, water fountains, bathrooms, and even cell phone charging stations. During the warmers months, it's ideal for surfing, boogie boarding, swimming, and fishing. As the temperatures start to dip, the mile-long boardwalk offers gorgeous views of the ocean and plenty of opportunities for recreation. It also has the most playgrounds of any shoreline in NJ, making it ideal for families with small kids.
7. Seaside Park Beach
Seaside Park offers two equally outstanding beaches: Seaside Park Beach and Island Beach State Park. We've already mentioned the delights of Island Beach State Park (see No.19 for details), but Seaside Park Beach is just as noteworthy, with a lively atmosphere and enough entertainment (including carnival rides, shops, restaurants, and an amusements-packed boardwalk) to keep the whole family happy.
6. Ocean City
If you're looking for the kind of beaches that the whole family can enjoy, head on over to Ocean City. There's plenty of fun to be had, but its strict no-alcohol policy keeps things the right side of family-friendly. Kids will love the mini-golf courses, child-orientated arcades, and water park, not to mention the themed play lands on its boardwalk. The shorefront is lovely, with wide stretches of sand and enough activities to keep the whole gang happy from dawn to dusk. If you get peckish, you'll find plenty of old-school crab shacks and seafood joints to grab a bite at.
5. Long Beach Island
As Trip Hobo says, Long Beach Island is a little slice of paradise for all beach lovers. Its mile-long shoreline is peppered with all types of beaches, from busy stretches of sand to blissfully quiet secluded coves. One of the best is Ship Bottom Beach - located right at the center of the island, its peaceful, crowd-free setting is ideal for visitors looking to escape the hordes. If digging your toes into the sand and admiring the views isn't enough to keep you busy, there's plenty of entertainment options scatted around the shoreline, including Thundering Surf Water Park & Adventure Golf and Fantasy Island Amusement Park.
4. Cape May
As US News notes, Cape May, which is known as America's original seaside resort, has been a premier summertime getaway for generations. Established in 1620, this tiny but charming town boasts colorful Victorian houses, sweeping beaches, wineries, historical sites, and some of the best birding spots in the world. Located on NJ's southern tip, it's a lovely place to watch the sunrise and sunset - if you prefer to do it with a cocktail in hand, there's plenty of restaurants and bars peppered around the beachfront.
3. Spring Lake
If soft white sand and crystal clear warm waters sound like your idea of heaven, head for Spring Lake. Parking is free of charge, and it's never so overrun with day-trippers that you'll struggle to find a space. The unspoiled ocean views from the boardwalk are heavenly. The beach itself is dreamy, although be warned - to keep it spotless, the authorities have implemented a no-eating policy, so keep your snacking to the cafes and restaurants only.
2. Sea Isle City
Sea Isle City has a little something for everyone. If you want to enjoy a game of volleyball, a swim, or try your hand at kayaking or kiteboarding, the clean waters and pristine sands are ideal. For those who prefer a more relaxed approach to the beach, the Townsends Inlet Waterfront Park is the ideal play to enjoy a lazy day of strolling along the sand or laying back and soaking up the rays. If you'd prefer something a little more active, enjoy a yoga class on the shores of JFK Boulevard.
1. Sandy Hook
Lonely Planet reckons Sandy Hook has some of the best beaches in New Jersey. It's hard to disagree. Located on the northernmost tip of the Jersey Shore, the Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area is a seven-mile barrier island that offers stunning views over the NYC skyline, white, sandy beaches (including the only legal nude beach in NJ), and a system of trails that's perfect for hiking or biking. Popular pastimes include kayaking, birdwatching, windsurfing, and fishing. Its also within walking distance of Historic Fort Hancock and the nation's oldest operational lighthouse, both of which offer an incredible insight into the area's military and navigating significance.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn