Over the years, New Jersey’s sandy beaches have been a significant draw for visitors, stretching 130 miles (1,792 miles, according to NOAA) along the coast. The Garden State is home to a number of the East Coast’s premier beach towns, each with its own particular attraction and ambiance that lures tourists and those looking for a new home.
When choosing life by the sea or in a big city, New Jersey’s coasts can deliver both. The state’s closeness to larger populous cities, such as The Big Apple and Philly, facilitates more accessible travel. Alternatively, those who like city life but still want to the beach may make a day or weekend vacation out of one of these coastal communities. Many have events and beach access year-round, but summertime is the busiest.
In no particular order, here are some of the top beach towns in New Jersey:
Brigantine is one of New Jersey’s most desirable areas to live and visit due to its beautiful beaches, many water activities, and friendly locals. By car, you can reach Atlantic City in a matter of minutes, Philadelphia in under an hour, and New York City in under two hours from this picturesque town with miles of shoreline.
Since it was founded in 1890, the place now called the City of Brigantine has changed its name and been re-incorporated many times. Boasting a rich history rooted in whaling and serving as an ancient respite for several Native American tribes, the town is quite popular with tourists, particularly during summer.
Brigantine is also said to be where Captain Kidd hid his treasure, and pirates have been involved in many events there in the past. Additionally, the area has been the scene of more than 300 shipwrecks in the olden days.
Families and older folks will find Brigantine a friendly place to put down roots. It’s known for its soft sand beaches, surf spots, places to fish in areas where it’s allowed, and the famous protected dunes that keep this barrier island safe.
The town’s population of about 7,716 (2020 Census) is reflected in the variety of homes on the market. When you drive around any neighborhood in Brigantine, you will see a diverse collection of houses, including some with many stories, others with beachfront access, and some that are older and well-loved.
Spend your next vacation at Wildwoods, or make your trip a bit longer by making it your permanent home. On this 5-mile-long island, you’ll find everything a beach town could possibly have to offer, from upscale eating to visiting the world-famous boardwalk and free beaches with white sand to relax on.
Some of the first people to live in the Wildwoods area were Lenni Lenape people of the Delaware Indian tribe. However, there were also many Europeans living in the area.
Throughout its history, the town evolved into a place welcoming to families, particularly those who like the ocean and the region’s three amusement parks, which offer more than one hundred rides. This coastal retreat brings the culture, music, and architecture of the 1950s and 1960s back to life, and all you have to do is look at the vintage buildings to see that.
According to the 2020 Census, Wildwood had less than 5,000 people living there. The average age of residents was their mid-40s, but the community is suitable for younger families and retirees. The Wildwoods area also hosts 160 festivals each year, providing something of interest to everyone.
One of the beaches along the Jersey Shore that draws the most visitors every year is Avalon. This town is a popular seaside destination in South Jersey, and its slogan is “Cooler by a Mile”, which refers to the fact that it protrudes into the Atlantic Ocean about a mile longer than neighboring barrier islands.
Mini golf, ice cream stands, upscale boutiques, surf shops, and coastal restaurants are just some of the coastal entertainment options available in the areas around the beaches. All sorts of properties, from waterfront mansions to condominiums, in the upscale Avalon neighborhood, are within walking distance of the beach.
Living in Avalon gives inhabitants a feeling of living in a small suburban community, and most residents own their own houses. During the 2020 census, 1,223 people called it home. You’ll also discover shopping attractions in the downtown area that sell various goods, including books, apparel, and beach equipment.
Avalon is known for its location on “7 Mile Beach,” which has miles of beaches with white sand and access to the Atlantic Ocean. These sands are fantastic for water sports such as boating, swimming, kayaking, and surfing.
A wide variety of places to stay can be found in Avalon, making it an excellent choice for vacations with families, groups of friends, or even by oneself. It is a beautiful place to unwind since a wide selection of cozy cottages and homes are available.
Cape May, NJ
Cape May is one of the most well-known beach communities in the state of New Jersey. This picture-perfect beach town with white beaches and blue seas is attractive to people of all ages and budgets, and it promises to fulfill a fantastic time outside in the sunshine.
Having a year-round population of 2,768 (as of the 2020 US census), the beach town is still small enough to be a close-knit community. People who live in large cities like coming to Cape May because it’s a lovely spot to escape their everyday lives and a great place to recharge.
The promenade next to the beach has restaurants, candy stores, arcades, surf shops, and other amusements that are suitable for the whole family. Off the promenade, near the water, you’ll also find restaurants and shops, which give you more chances to look around.
The beaches along the Atlantic Ocean at Cape May City stretch for two miles and are in beautiful condition. Conveniences such as easy parking, toilets, beach equipment rentals, and food and drink vendors may be found close to the beaches. The shores are excellent for families with children since the surf is not too intense, and lifeguards are present throughout the summer months.
Sea Isle City, NJ
Unlike many of the other bustling coastal communities in its vicinity, Sea Isle City is relatively peaceful and is home to just 2,104 residents (Census 2020). While tourists and families of all kinds will enjoy visiting Sea Isle City, residents without children or retirees will benefit more from the city’s lack of a school system since 2012.
Travelers of all ages are drawn to the city of Sea Isle due to its excellent dining options. Additionally, Sea Isle City is home to one of the biggest Polar Bear Plunges on the United States East Coast.
Every year throughout February, there is a weekend full of exciting activities for families to participate in. Some of these activities include races, a parade, a block party, and a swim in the Atlantic Ocean.
Even though Sea Isle doesn’t have a boardwalk with shops or amusement parks like other beach towns, it does have a public beach, tennis courts, a seasonal public pool, a fishing shop, a playground, a corner store, and a restaurant. The expansive shoreline is perfect for swimming, wading, and participating in various water activities.
Ocean City, NJ
Ocean City prides itself on being “America’s Greatest Family Resort”, and it’s maybe most well-known for being an alcohol-free community. It’s a beautiful spot to take the kids on vacation, but it’s also a wonderful place to live, with excellent public schools and wonderful citizens.
Before the founding of Ocean City in 1884, the island was used by native peoples as a summer fishing camp. There are now several parks, cafes, and dining options throughout the city. This municipality, with 11,190 inhabitants (according to the Census of 2020), is home to a diverse collection of individuals, including many retirees. Visiting the wooden boardwalk, set along the sand, is one of the nicest things to do in town.
The seaside community is renowned for its eight miles of immaculate beaches. They showcase lots of room for building stunning sandcastles and a lengthy shoreline along which visitors may enjoy swimming in the surf.
Along the sand, there are kiosks where one may rent beach chairs and umbrellas, and there are also active lifeguard positions. Beginning the week before the end of June and continuing until the week before Labor Day, lifeguards patrol most beaches.
Long Beach Island, NJ
Long Beach Island, sometimes abbreviated as LBI and referred to as The LBI Region, is a barrier island and summer community located in Central New Jersey along the Atlantic Ocean. Despite its small size (about 18 miles long and roughly half a mile broad), Long Beach Island is a well-liked choice for living or vacationing as an alternative to other areas in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York.
Since 1690, people have lived on the island; at first, it was used as a place to go hunting. The town has a permanent population of roughly 8,556 people, according to the Census of 2000; however, there are often about 10,000 people on it at once when you include visitors.
These days, Long Beach Island is a major tourist destination due to the abundance of sightseeing and the beautiful beaches with white sand. LBI is a quieter part of the Jersey Shore that needs high-rise hotels, crowded boardwalks, and tourist attractions of more popular beaches along the mainland.
You can take it easy on LBI’s peaceful beaches, ride your bike everywhere, and enjoy activities like swimming, sailing, racket sports, and fishing, among others. Visit Long Beach Township, on Long Beach Island, to take in the sea air, escape the heat, and participate in any number of year-round activities.
Ocean Grove, NJ
Ocean Grove is a vacation town on the Atlantic Ocean known for its beautiful ocean views and charming Victorian homes. The city is a popular weekend, summer, and year-round getaway for out-of-state visitors and new New Jersey residents because of its proximity to both New York City and Philadelphia.
Each year, beginning in May and continuing until September, more than a hundred tents are set up around the great hall to create what is known as the “Tent City”. The Great Auditorium in this town, popularly known as “God’s Square Mile”, is a massive wooden auditorium that hosts Sunday worship services and choral performances.
The rest of the houses in this charming village of cute cottages seem like they were plucked straight from the 1950s. Since there are no pubs or other places to go out at night, the area is quiet and an excellent place to live for families with young children.
Ocean Grove had a manageable population of 3,057 residents as of the census completed in the year 2020. The beach is excellent for families because it has a long boardwalk and places to play tennis and shuffleboard.
Ice cream parlors, restaurants serving breakfast, and gift stores may be found scattered around the quaint downtown area. Everyone can go to this beach every day of the year, making it a great place to relax by the sun or go for a walk in the winter.
Stone Harbor, NJ
Take a trip to Stone Harbor and prepare to be wowed by the allure of this quaint little hamlet. In this often-overlooked town, visitors and permanent residents may relax and enjoy the area’s boutique shops, pristine beaches, cobbled streets, and excellent dining options.
The area was first developed in the latter part of the 19th century as a resort town along the track used by the West Jersey and Seashore Railroad. Wealthy citizens of Philadelphia who were looking for a second house in a vacation setting were targeted as potential buyers for the community.
Stone Harbor, with a population of 796 as of the 2020 census, is one of the most low-key beach communities in New Jersey, despite the state having dozens of beautiful beach towns. Despite the lack of beach clubs and boardwalk attractions, this area is perfect for anyone seeking a laid-back spot to put down roots, thanks to its wealth of natural beauty and quaint downtown.
Visitors return year after year to Stone Harbor for its less crowded, gorgeous white sand beaches and calm surf. The beaches have lifeguards to keep people safe, and people can swim, surf, kayak, sail and participate in various other water sports. Residents have the opportunity to enjoy a more relaxed way of life while still having access to a variety of recreational opportunities, fantastic neighbors, and educational opportunities.
Year-round residents and tourists enjoy the Borough of Belmar’s small-town appeal, rural beauty, and a plethora of recreational activities. There are around 5,907 permanent inhabitants in the town as of the 2020 Census, with many more visitors arriving for the summer months.
Belmar has been a favorite vacation spot for decades, thanks to the town’s natural beauty and convenient location between New York and Philadelphia. The city is known for its stunning beaches, but it also has many other attractions.
There are frequent art exhibitions, seminars, concerts, and plays hosted by the Belmar Arts Council. In addition to being home to the New Jersey Seafood Festival and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Belmar has a number of other major athletic events, festivals, and other family-friendly events throughout the year.
The beaches and boardwalk in the Borough of Belmar are available all year, but they come into their own during the warm summer months for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, fishing, and boating. The mile-long boardwalk along the powdery white sands is ideal for leisurely strolls and provides breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Point Pleasant, NJ
Point Pleasant is among the best places to visit on the Jersey Shore, whether you’re looking for a quick getaway, a permanent place to call home, or a fun place to spend the summer. Despite its small size, Point Pleasant is an excellent site to bring the family or settle permanently due to its welcoming atmosphere, established school district, safe environment, and proximity to the beach.
This little town of 18,941 inhabitants (2020 Census) is a favorite vacation site for North New Jersey and NYC visitors. It’s just a 60-minute drive from NYC, or a 1.5-hour journey on New Jersey Transit, with a short walk to the beachfront.
The boardwalk is famous because it has several carnival-style food and drink options, including games, rides, and ice cream. In addition to the local aquarium, there is a nightclub and comedy club in town that adults may enjoy.
A variety of groups manage the nearly two miles of Point Pleasant’s sandy beaches, each with its own set of regulations and admission price. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, lifeguards are on duty and have the last word on any beach and water activities. Jenkinson’s Beach, Martell’s Beach, Bradshaw Beach, Maryland Avenue Beach, and Risden’s Beach are just a few of the local favorites.
You can’t help but fall in love with these beach communities, no matter which direction the wind takes you on your journey. Vacation for a day or a lifetime on the beautiful Jersey Shore.