Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Keri Stooksbury
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New Jersey is one of the most popular places for New Englanders to go if they want to have a beach getaway. Despite being one of the smallest states in the country, New Jersey has numerous lakes and hundreds of miles of coastline.
If you plan to see New Jersey’s beaches for yourself, you might feel a little overwhelmed picking the right place to visit. Don’t worry. You don’t have to spend hours looking up the differences between different parts of the coast. We’ve done the hard work for you, researching New Jersey’s beaches to determine the best in the state for your vacation.
Asbury Park Beach is a mile of paradise tucked away on the New Jersey coastline. The water is clean and perfect for many beachy activities. From surfing to swimming, and even fishing, you’ll have plenty to do to keep yourself occupied while you’re here.
The beach is popular among locals and other New Englanders, so it’s also a great place to go if you like being around other people. Despite the crowds, this beach is well-maintained and clean. The city is able to keep the coast pristine thanks to the small fee beach-goers have to pay to access the sand.
After 4:30 p.m., the beach is free since that’s when the lifeguards start going off-duty. If you decide to visit then, make sure to exercise extra caution.
Avalon Beach is a peaceful stretch of 7 Mile Island’s coast. The sand is pale tan and goes on for miles. The island is popular for weekend getaways, but during the week, you’ll mostly see locals milling around on the sand. Swimming here is calm and safe for most people, even children. That’s especially the case if you stay near the shore.
There aren’t many waves around Avalon, either. If you’re an avid surfer, that might be disappointing, but if you’re looking for a family-friendly place to spend a summer day, this is a fantastic option.
One of the most recommended things to do on this beach is to go for a walk. The buildings that line the sand are uniquely charming and unlike any you’ll see on the state’s mainland. You’re also within walking distance of stores and other businesses you might need.
Brigantine is one of the most charming towns in New Jersey, so it’s only natural that it would have one of the best beaches in the state. The beach is just off the boardwalk, making it a nice reprieve from the crowds that can start to get overwhelming, especially during the summer.
During the fall and winter, you’ll mostly find locals since it’s too cold to swim. However, it’s still pretty if you want to go for a walk and listen to the tide. You need a beach tag to get to the sand, though, so make sure you stop by the right office to pick one up before you get comfortable.
It’s also near Atlantic City if you’re looking for a quiet place to escape from that excitement during a trip. No matter what time you visit, there are events for the whole family.
The Cape May peninsula is one of the most luxurious places on the Eastern Seaboard. With colorful and historic homes and numerous restaurants and shops, it’s a relaxing place for some family-friendly fun.
The vast beach is one of Cape May’s biggest draws. The sand is soft, so you’ll be comfortable, but you won’t sink into it if you decide to go on a walk. The water is also incredibly blue around the peninsula. It’s often a turquoise color thanks to the sand, sediments, and currents changing its hue.
The water can get choppy around here. If you get away from the shore, you might be able to surf. Even close to the sand, the current can be intense at times, so be careful if you have young or inexperienced swimmers. You’re not likely to encounter beach parties here.
Diamond Beach might be considered a private beach, but don’t let that stop you from visiting. You can still enjoy a day on the sand at this New Jersey beach. You just need to get a pass first. The pass system helps keep the beach well-maintained and clean.
Little kids will love this beach both on dry land and in the water. The sand is soft and plush, but with a bit of water, it compacts nicely to make sand castles. The water is also shallow for quite a while and gradually gets deeper, making it safe to splash around.
Island Beach State Park is one of the best beaches in New Jersey if you want to spend some time on a natural shore. Located on one of the state’s barrier islands, it’s a great way to get away from the crowds and noise of the mainland’s cities.
The beach is quiet and peaceful no matter where you go, even on busy weekends during the summer. Many state park beaches don’t have lifeguards regularly on duty, but that’s not the case here.
You might have to exercise extra caution during the week at the beginning and end of the summer when there are fewer visitors. However, you’ll have a lifeguard watching over you the rest of the time.
You can even rent canoes or kayaks to add a little more excitement to your visit. You can’t camp on the beach, but there are inns.
Long Beach Island definitely tops the list for the most dramatic views in the state. With its sloping sand dunes and rippling water, it looks like the setting for a movie.
Sunset and sunrise are 2 of the best times to visit the beach. The sun’s colors light up the sky and glitter on the water dramatically during those times. You’ll want to make sure you have a camera ready to remember the view.
During the summer, you’ll find more tourists on the island, but if you come during the week, you’ll be able to fit in with the locals a little more.
The water here is excellent and calm, too, most of the time. If there are storms coming, the water can get rougher, and you’ll feel more of a current if you swim away from the shore. However, the shallow areas are gentler.
If you don’t want to feel confined by choosing between peace and quiet and excitement, Long Branch Beach is the place for you on your New Jersey trip. The beach is long and has plenty of space for you to set up for your day on the sand or go for a nice relaxing walk.
There are also other amenities available, so you don’t have to worry about making your own fun during your entire visit. You can play volleyball on the sand or on one of the courts or hold out for a beach party during the busy summer weekends.
The Long Branch boardwalk is nearby as well if you want to get a break from the seaside for a bit. You can also take advantage of the restaurants to grab some food if you don’t want to pack a cooler for yourself.
Ocean City has 8 miles of beaches for visitors to enjoy all year. The area is considered one of the best family-friendly vacation spots in the country, at least when you don’t count amusement parks.
The area is safe, so you don’t have to worry about being constantly vigilant while you’re on the shore. Obviously, exercise some caution and be alert, but you can also relax a little bit while you’re here.
It’s also clean. The sand is soft and free of debris, and you don’t have to worry about encountering polluted waters when you go for a swim. Even on the busiest days, you won’t feel too overcrowded, especially if you’re willing to walk a little bit.
Hot Tip: There’s no natural shade. If you plan on spending the whole day on the sand, take a cue from the locals and consider bringing an umbrella.
Quaint Victorian-style homes and a small-town vibe are what you get from Ocean Grove. It’s that charm that helps make this one of the best places to unwind if you find yourself traveling to the East Coast.
With its long boardwalk and even longer beach, it’s also a haven for beach lovers. You can lay out and work on your tan or go for a run on the sand if you prefer staying dry. However, if you love the water, you’ll be able to have fun here, too. The water is clean, so you can swim without stressing.
Staying near the shore lets you splash around in the water in any weather. Even when the current in the area is strong, you won’t get swept away. Otherwise, you can surf on wavy days or go for a relaxing swim when the water is calm.
Point Pleasant Beach has plenty of ways for the whole family to have fun. From little kids to retirees, there’s something for everyone here. The boardwalk is long and full of shops, restaurants, and rides to fill your days, but make sure you set aside time to head to the shore.
The sand here is some of the softest in the state, and you might start to believe it’s more comfortable laying out on the beach than in your bed. If the water is calling to you instead, you can take a dip in some of the cleanest water in the country.
From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., you’ll be under the watchful eyes of the beach’s lifeguards, so you can swim knowing you’re in good hands. Since the city is pretty small, you’ll be welcomed in like one of the locals as well.
Poverty Beach is part of Cape May, but it’s unique enough to deserve its own spot on this list. Historically, this beach was used by the common people in the working class who couldn’t afford the beaches frequented by the “high society” people.
Though now anyone can enjoy all the beaches in the area, Poverty Beach has maintained the quaint and special essence that makes visitors feel like they’ve gone back in time. If you’re an early riser, this is a perfect beach to visit. You can head out in the morning and watch the sun come up over the horizon and follow it up with a nice swim in the water.
Sunsets are also gorgeous here since they create cinematic scenery that must be experienced at least once. While a car gives you more freedom, the beach is within walking distance of any essentials you might need.
Sandy Hook is a favorite beach destination for nature lovers from all over the coast. It’s part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, so it’s protected from development that could ruin the local landscape and wildlife. From 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day, you can enjoy the various beaches on the peninsula.
During the cooler months from September until May, you probably won’t want to go in the water unless you have a wetsuit to keep you warm. However, this is the perfect time to go for a walk and take in the views.
During the summer, though, make sure to pack a bathing suit. The water is comfortable, not too hot, but not frigid cold, either. The currents aren’t overwhelming most days either, so even if you’re not a professional swimmer, you’ll be able to hold your own.
Seaside Heights is a premier beach destination, but there are a few things you need to know first before you visit. During the summer, lifeguards are on duty every day until 6 p.m. On weekends and holidays, the guards are around until 9 p.m.
While many places still allow swimming if lifeguards aren’t working, Seaside Heights doesn’t. To ensure everyone has a safe time while at this part of the coast, you can only go in the water if there’s a lifeguard around.
You can still get your feet wet and wade a little if you’re going for a walk, though. Just make you stay where the water is at its shallowest. The beach is wide here, giving you plenty of opportunities to scope out a good spot, though the sand near the water fills up the fastest.
Not many places can claim to be a destination hotspot for the U.S.’s leaders the way Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park can. Over the years, 7 presidents have indeed chosen it to be a getaway spot for their family trips. That’s, in part, because this beach has a nice balance of amenities and seclusion.
You can really unwind from even the most stressful jobs in the world when you’re at this beach, no matter how you choose to spend your time. You can take a dip in the water when the waves are still, or you can take a board and try some amateur surfing if the ocean is a little choppier. On the sand, you can walk, tan, or just sit back and relax the day away without a care in the world.
Hot Tip: This is an alcohol-free beach.
Stone Harbor Beach is a relaxing haven that lets you forget about your everyday stresses and unwind by the water. This part of New Jersey’s coast is well taken care of, which helps benefit both the landscape and its visitors.
You won’t feel like an outsider when you’re on this beach. Since it’s a small, quaint place, you’ll be welcomed and made to feel right at home. That sort of thing comes in handy when it comes time to ask locals where the best beach spot is or what time to head to the water.
However, be aware that this beach can get crowded sometimes. It’s pretty easy to guess what days will be busier. Holiday weekends during the summer will mean more crowds, so if that’s not something you like, try to avoid planning your trip for then if you can manage it.
Wildwood Crest has earned a reputation of being one of the best beaches in New Jersey and, some say, in the U.S. A big reason why people love this beach is that there’s something here for any type of traveler.
There are pockets of the shore where it’s calm and peaceful if you need some time away from the noise. You can still hear some of the crowds in the distance, but you’re able to unwind and just focus on the waves. However, if you want to make friends and have a little more excitement that’s still safe, you can have that experience, too.
There are tons of activities near the beach, and some festivities will spill onto the sand as well. Despite all the foot traffic the area gets, it still stays pristine. That’s mainly due to the pride locals take in their coastline.
Clearly, there’s no shortage of beach destinations in New Jersey. Whether you like excitement or peace and quiet, there’s a place for you. Hopefully, you’ll be able to use this list to narrow down your options to pick the beach spot that will make your New Jersey vacation perfect.
New Jersey is famous for its beaches, and for a good reason. There are many places with clean water and soft sand, which keep tourists coming back every year. However, some places in the state are better at maintaining their coastline than others.
Many of New Jersey’s beaches are swimmable. However, you shouldn’t assume every body of water is safe to swim in. Typically, dangerous stretches of the shore with strong currents or polluted water will be marked. When in doubt, you can contact local authorities first.
The Atlantic Ocean is warmer than the Pacific. So, the water in New Jersey will, in general, be a higher temperature than beach locations on the West Coast. During the summer, the air and water are both warm enough to go swimming comfortably.
It’s not too difficult to find beaches with clear water in New Jersey. However, due to the East Coast’s boat traffic and currents, debris can circulate, which can make the water in certain areas a little less clear. That doesn’t mean it’s unsafe, though.
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