When asked who has the best beaches – New York or Jersey, the answer almost always is, “No contest IMHO – Jersey Shore.” Unless you’re from New York. “Long Island’s best are the Hamptons and Montauk. Montauk is truly beautiful, but the Hamptons are overrated some say. Coney Island is truly historic and great, but rundown and dirty today.”
Until recently you didn’t hear much about the Jersey Shore in New York. But skyrocketing prices in Long Island have made the Jersey Shore an appealing option. We think the Jersey Shore has had a bad rap for too long. With beautiful beaches, and loads of fun activities for kids and families, you’ll truly be surprised at all the great choices you’ll find. We’ve got the inside scoop on the best beaches on the Jersey Shore from nearby Sandy Hook all the way south to Cape May. But if you’re thinking about spreading the word far and wide, fuhgeddaboutit. Let ‘em have their Hamptons–this’ll be our little secret, capisce?
Dip your toe in the beauty of the Jersey Shore with a trip to nearby Sandy Hook. Just a forty-minute ferry ride from the Wall Street area (SeaStreak.com), the seven-mile stretch of spectacular ocean and bay beaches are excellent for surf casting, swimming, and relaxing on the sand. Since Sandy Hook is actually a National Park, there is no beach town or commercial community–so pack a picnic lunch and be prepared for an old-fashioned day in the sun (the Inlet side/western shore is sans lifeguards, rest rooms, food or beverages), or drive down to Sandy Hook, then spend the night in Highlands, a quiet town with loads of great restaurants and outdoor activities, as well as hotels and cottages with gorgeous views of Sandy Hook. Kids may get a kick out of touring the Highlands’ Twin Lighthouses and maritime museum as well.
Local and national reaction to the attacks involved a wave of panic that led to shark hunts aimed at eradicating the population of “man-eating” sharks and protecting the economies of New Jersey’s seaside communities. Resort towns enclosed their public beaches with steel nets to protect swimmers. Scientific knowledge about sharks before 1916 was based on conjecture and speculation. The attacks forced ichthyologists to reassess common beliefs about the abilities of sharks and the nature of shark attacks.
Boardwalks in summer have a way of dismantling people’s inhibitions, with their heady doses of sugar, heat, carnival game taunts and frothy drinks. So it is at Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., where, with a spin on the Super Himalaya and a little bumper-car action, the day can reach high kitsch. Day-trippers who venture away from the Boardwalk won’t be disappointed either; the downtown has been spruced up in recent years.
Jenkinson’s Beach gets crowded, so arrive early. The vibe is friendly; Point Pleasant attracts families with children in droves. The beach offers outdoor showers and a few changing rooms. Food and nonalcoholic drinks in plastic containers are allowed. As with most beaches on the Jersey Shore, it costs money to get your toes sandy ($7.50 for adults on weekends, $6.50 on weekdays; $2 for children 5 to 11; $8 for an umbrella, $7 for a chair).
High season at the Jersey Shore begins on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and ends on Labor Day. June can be a bit rainy and chilly at night, especially early in the month, but the weather is most often sunny and warm by July. Locals revel in September, when it’s usually temperate but the crowds are gone. Fall foliage season is a great time to visit as well. Winter is cold and many seasonal businesses close once the big chill hits, but there are many festivals and beautiful decorations around the holidays.
The summer months in New Jersey usually have warm to hot days and temperate nights, where a light jacket is often a good idea, especially near or on the water. Although temperatures average between 61 and 75 degrees, no month is immune from the occasional rainy day or two. You’ll need a jacket once fall comes and the winter months can get frosty.