28 Best New Jersey Beaches: Sandy Shores, Boardwalks, Surfing, & More

Long evening shadows on the beach at Cape May, New Jersey

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Get ready to soak up the sun, feel the sand between your toes, and experience some of the best New Jersey beaches!

The state boasts a spectacular stretch of coastline known as the Jersey Shore, offering a diverse range of beaches that cater to every type of beachgoer. 

These destinations offer opportunities for sunbathing, building sandcastles, watching the sunset, taking refreshing dips in the crisp Atlantic waters, and many other exciting water-based activities.

When you need a break from the sun-soaked sands, explore the entertaining and eclectic Jersey Shore towns dotted along the coast, where you’ll find plenty of things to do away from the beach.

Whether you’re seeking a fun-filled family vacation, a romantic getaway, or a beach adventure with friends, the NJ Shore beaches offer enough variety and fun for everyone!

If you want to explore more of New Jersey’s nature landscape, read our guide to NJ state parks.

Awesome Jersey Shore Beaches

To make it easier for you to navigate our list of the best beaches on the Jersey Shore, we have organized them from north to south.

Sandy Hook Beach

Located in one of the northernmost towns on the Jersey Shore, Sandy Hook Beach (Hartshorne Dr, Highlands) offers a unique experience both visually and aesthetically.

Due to its geographic positioning at the top of all North Jersey Shore beaches, Sandy Hook is a popular destination for travelers coming from New York City.

There is no boardwalk and there are only modest entertainment options, so the crowds are not as hectic as many of the beaches on the Jersey Shore.

Sandy Hook is famous for its top-notch facilities, with a high level of cleanliness and general maintenance.

Similarly to Ocean City (learn more below!), Sandy Hook is a dry town and follows that policy strictly.

This makes Sandy Hook a great Jersey Shore beach for families, as it’s relatively quiet.

Plus, it’s full of stunning unique views of the Atlantic Ocean and New York City in the distance.

Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park

Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park is a 38-acre protected natural property in the northern section of Long Branch.

The protected area means there is no commerce or residential housing anywhere along the beach in this long stretch.

Lifeguards patrol the beach on a daily basis through the peak months of the summer, though only on weekends from Memorial Day to mid-June.

The beach itself is incredibly quiet, and there are facilities and resources for entertainment including playgrounds, the Skateplex skate park, as well as fishing and surfing beaches in designated areas.

The main entrance to the park is wheelchair-accessible, along with handicapped parking spaces along Joline Avenue.

Asbury Park Beach 

Asbury Park Beach (106-108 2nd Ave, Asbury Park) may not be as popular as some of the more commercial beaches at the Jersey Shore, but it is a well-known spot for both surfing and fishing.

The unique tides here make for excellent surfing year-round, with more beach space designated for surfing as well as more lessons and group activities available than in other towns.

There is also a very active fishing department known as the Asbury Park Fishing Club, which organizes events and provides resources to beginners who are looking to take part in the saltwater fishing available.

Playgrounds are available on 2nd Avenue and 7th Avenue, and surfing spots can be found between the jetties on Deal Lake Drive and 8th Avenue.

Parking can get really tricky during the peak months, but there are both paid lots and meters located around town.

Beach fees are relatively light, with both children and the military granted free access.

If you’re looking for activities and attractions, read our guide for all the cool things to do in Asbury Park.

Beautiful Asbury Park Beach in New Jersey

Ocean Grove Beach

Ocean Grove Beach (Ocean Ave N, Ocean Grove) is set in a quieter town, offering some quiet rest among many more crowded and energized beaches.

The relatively peaceful Ocean Grove is mostly due to the lack of a boardwalk and the minimal dining options, so there is both a positive and negative associated with the peace.

There is plenty of free street parking, which can be easier to find even in the busy months than in some of the neighboring towns.

With lesser crowds, modest beach fees, and lifeguards patrolling daily during the peak season, Ocean Grove is a great option among the quiet Jersey Shore beaches.

Bradley Beach

Bradley Beach (60 Ocean Ave N, Bradley Beach) is another quiet and peaceful Central Jersey beach, with beach playgrounds and miles of soft sand perfect for digging your toes into.

There are many recreational activities allowed on this beach, which is relatively unique to the Shore.

Designated spots host beach volleyball and mini-golf, and other portions are designated for fishing, boogie boards and even kayaking.

In terms of parking, there are mostly street meters throughout town, although there are a few free options if you are willing to search for them.

Accessibility is prioritized in much of the beach, with accessibility ramps available at Cliff, Brinley, and Evergreen Avenues.

There are also beach wheelchair daily rentals provided for free, thanks to local donations.

Avon-By-the-Sea Beach

Avon-By-the-Sea (600 Ocean Ave N, Avon-By-The-Sea) is not an especially crowded and energized beach town, and thus the beach itself is renowned for its exclusivity and privacy.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the beach fees are considerably higher than other beaches, hence the resulting privacy and exclusivity.

Surfing at the beach is a popular draw due to the unique nature of the tides hitting the coast, depending on weather conditions.

Free parking is plentiful here, with no meters or paid lots anywhere on the island.

Belmar Beach

If you’re looking for one of the best Jersey Shore beaches with a boardwalk, head to Belmar Beach (Belmar Boardwalk, Belmar).

Belmar Beach is the slightly less active cousin to Point Pleasant, although there are more thrills and adventure here than in any neighboring town.

There is plenty to do at the Belmar Beach boardwalk, including food, shops, and games.

Surfing and boogie boarding have multiple designated spots, with boogie boarding available on 7th Street, 14th Street, and 20th Avenue and surfing available on 17th and 18th Avenues.

Lifeguards patrol on a daily basis between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and they have an 18-year age minimum which is unique among many other towns.

Parking is usually free on the street, although there are meters along the beach for prime access.

All military veterans, active military, children under 14, and Gold Star families have free beach access through the peak season.

Accessibility mats are located on all beach ramps, providing accessible access to the beach no matter where you choose to enter.

For more things to do in Belmar, read this guide.

Belmar fishing pier and Atlantic shore waves in Belmar New Jersey

Spring Lake Beach

Spring Lake Beach (Spring Lake) is a reserved and quiet alternative to its neighboring Shore towns, with a minimal boardwalk and limited commercial space.

Spacious and pristinely maintained, the soft white sand of Spring Lake Beach is a treasured aspect of the town.

There is still plenty of thrill and adventure here, with fishing, surfing, kayaking, and windsurfing available in various places.

Fishing areas are located in 5 different jetties, including Pitney Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Newark Avenue.

Surfing is available at Remsen Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Mercer Avenue.

Brighton Avenue is exclusively for kayaking and windsurfing.

If you are bringing children, it should be noted that there are no major playgrounds on or around the beach area in Spring Lake.

The beach access areas are all wheelchair accessible, along with all restrooms.

Sea Girt Beach

Sea Girt Beach (657 Ocean Ave N, Sea Girt) is similar to Avon-by-the-Sea with its heightened beach fees and highly-desired exclusivity and privacy.

This is definitely one of the cleanest Jersey Shore beaches — Sea Girt is beloved for its cleanliness and top-notch facilities.

There are strict rules that align Sea Girt with its intended audience, including the complete prohibition of music, drink, and food on the beach.

If you are looking to eat or drink by the beach, look for the many designated picnic areas nearby.

Lifeguards are active throughout the season, patrolling on a daily basis starting on Memorial Day and going through Labor Day.

As is the case with many of these exclusive beaches, parking is free and plentiful.

Point Pleasant Beach

Point Pleasant Beach is incredibly popular during the peak summer months due mostly to Jenkinson’s Boardwalk (300 Ocean Ave N, Point Pleasant Beach), an amusement park along with other entertainment up and down the boardwalk.

Try to get to the beach early to avoid the large crowds if you can, or at the very least claim a spot on the beach before they get taken up by noon.

There is free street parking, with some paid lots and meters along the beach itself.

Parking can be notoriously difficult in the peak season, so you should expect to either come early or leave plenty of time (and patience) to browse the free street parking and lots until you luck out.

You may also like our guide to the things to do in Point Pleasant once you find a spot!

People and buildings on the beach in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey

Seaside Heights Beach

Seaside Heights is a rowdy, energetic bar town, and its beach has a similar chaotic energy to it.

Because of the many bars and clubs, the amusement park, and the residual fame from the hit reality show The Jersey Shore, Seaside Heights is a very popular destination for a younger crowd.

The beach fees are not outrageous, right around standard compared to similar beaches with special discounts for senior citizens, children, and the military.

Parking is mostly paid lots and meters, but make sure to check out the Summer Avenue lot first because that is the only designated free lot in town.

Explore the town of Seaside Heights and enjoy plenty of fun things to do while you’re there!

Beach and classic pier at Seaside Heights New Jersey

Seaside Park Beach

In contrast with the rowdy sibling Seaside Heights, Seaside Park Beach (1701 N Ocean Ave, Seaside Park) is much quieter and timider, with minimal commercial space on its boardwalk.

The soft white sand is the perfect condition for sunbathing and recreation, drawing impressive crowds despite the lack of offerings compared to Seaside Heights.

Due to the unique composition of the beach, the tide here is usually stronger than in other areas, so you should be especially careful when going into the water.

Lifeguards are specially trained to patrol this beach, so if you ever need any assistance or even just have questions about the tide, please have a conversation with your nearest lifeguard.

Island Beach State Park

Island Beach State Park (2401 Central Ave, Seaside Park) stands out as especially quiet in an already quiet town.

Large and spacious, Island Beach State Park stretches over 9 miles of coastline with limited commercial and residential space.

The NJ Governor’s Mansion is located here due to the privacy and space, and most NJ governors vacation here while in office.

The facilities here are of the utmost quality, including changing rooms, showers, restrooms, first aid stations, and concession stands along the beach.

Dog lovers should note that a large portion of the beach is designated as dog-friendly year-round, which is hard to find on the Jersey Shore!

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park (208 Broadway, Barnegat Light) is a historic step back in time within Long Beach Island.

Originally lit over 150 years ago in 1859, the Barnegat Lighthouse served a very important role as a guiding light for ships entering Barnegat Bay or navigating the coastline to and from New York City.

Stroll the protected natural beach, join a guided historic tour at the Interpretive Center, or climb the lighthouse for a beautiful panoramic view of the bay leading into the ocean.

There is no fee to stroll the beach and relax in the sand, but there is a fee to tour the lighthouse, which includes a museum and the opportunity to see the original beacon at the top of the lighthouse.

Many of the ramps are wheelchair accessible and there are free wheelchair daily rentals, but capacity is limited.

Barnegat Lighthouse at sunset

Harvey Cedars Bay Beach

Harvey Cedars Beach is another unique piece of Long Beach Island, with picture-perfect white sand and quiet, peaceful serenity.

This beach is great for leisurely strolling and sunbathing, with fewer crowds and less excitement than many neighboring towns in Long Beach.

There are also many facilities available, including showers, changing rooms, and wheelchair-accessible entrances.

There is also a large playground immediately next to the beach, perfect to change pace with your children for a couple of hours through the day.

Bayview Park

Bayview Park (6805 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach) is the premier family-friendly destination in Long Beach Island.

There is plenty of peace and relaxation at Bayview, with an often gentle tide that is perfect for a relaxing swim with young children, making it one of the best kid-friendly Jersey Shore beaches.

Likewise, there are also plenty of options for adventure, including designated areas for kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, and paddle boarding.

There is an accessible ramp to both the boardwalk and the beach and a handicapped elevator is available at 68th Street, with handicapped parking lots along this same section of the oceanfront street.

Long Beach Island 

Long Beach Island offers white sand and plenty of space for visitors throughout the peak season.

There is no boardwalk on this beach so you will not have exceptionally large crowds, but there is a popular amusement park to enjoy lots of entertainment options.

Parking mostly includes paid lots and metered parking, with specific discounts for NJ state residents.

There are many ramps to the beach, as well as handicap elevators in designated areas.

You may also want to check out other things to do in LBI.

View of the beach at Surf City in LBI.

Brigantine Beach

Immediately north of Atlantic City, Brigantine Beach offers a quieter, more serene alternative.

Brigantine is significantly more residential than Atlantic City, with limited dining options and little commerce outside of dining.

This has made Brigantine a welcome escape from the neighboring commotion.

The lifeguards at Brigantine are highly trained and completely certified, and they go above and beyond with several unique classes.

There are individual classes held for swimming, tidewater environment education as well as skin cancer prevention education.

There are also several exciting events held at Brigantine, including Lion’s Club Mile Swim and Elks Club Bayfest.

Atlantic City Beach

While Atlantic City may be more known for its casinos and resorts, its beach (1001 Boardwalk) itself is still a popular and well-maintained summer destination.

Because the boardwalk and casinos are such a big tourist draw, the beach tends to be more spacious even in the peak season.

The beach is noticeably longer than other neighboring beaches, with a long stretch of sand between the boardwalk and the waves at standard tide.

With that in mind, prepare to travel light or bring your sturdiest sandals for the long trek toward the water.

There are paid lots and meters around the city, as well as several parking garages that allow for reserved spaces around the casinos.

Steel Pier at Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Ocean City Beach

Ocean City Beach (Boardwalk, Ocean City) is an incredibly popular and family-friendly Jersey Shore beach with many amenities available.

The boardwalk is a big draw for tourists, with multiple amusement parks, famous pizzerias, and endless excitement.

The beach can get incredibly crowded, with lifeguards patrolling essentially the entirety of the beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day on a daily basis.

Due to the dry-town policy, no alcohol is sold or permitted in any area of the beach.

With so much to do on the boardwalk and around town, Ocean City is one of the best Jersey Shore beaches for a day trip.

Beach fees are very affordable compared to some of the more exclusive beaches, with seasonal, daily, weekly, and monthly options available.

Parking can be challenging, although there are plenty of options in terms of metered street parking and paid lots.

One of the surefire parking options in Ocean City is Foxtrot Lot, a large paid municipal lot behind Ocean City High School and right next to Wonderland Pier.

If you are looking for fun beach events to either participate in or just spectate, there are many races all summer long, including a half marathon, several 5ks, and even a triathlon.

Much of the boardwalk and beach are wheelchair accessible and there are also free beach wheelchair rentals available next to the 46th Street Firehouse.

ADA-compliant beach access mats can be found at Surf Road, Waverly Beach, Stenton Place, 14th Street, 34th Street, and 58th Street.

Read this next: Things to do in Ocean City

Stone Harbor Beach

With white, soft sand and a popular surrounding town, Stone Harbor Beach (2 94th St, Stone Harbor) is a very popular beach that can get very crowded during the peak summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

It is best to get your spot earlier in the day, around 10 am or so before the crowds start filing in ahead of the noontime peak.

There is a plenitude of facilities available at the beach, with places to rinse off, use the restroom, or refill any water bottles.

Local events include triathlons, races, the Blueberry Festival, and the Festival of Lights.

Parking can be tricky at Stone Harbor Beach, but the positive note is that there are many free street options, along with some paid lots.

Beach fees are relatively inexpensive, with discounts based on when they are purchased as well as qualifiers like veteran status and age.

Wildwood Dog Beach

Anyone looking for dog-friendly Jersey Shore beaches should take note: Wildwood has an entire portion of its beach dedicated to your four-legged companions!

Wildwood Dog Beach (3000 Boardwalk, Wildwood) is a designated area of the beach for dogs, specifically.

There is open space for dogs to be walked with leashes, as well as 2 parks where they can be unleashed and allowed to explore.

One park is for smaller dogs, the other is for bigger breeds.

Each park has different opportunities to play, including tires, playground equipment, and hills for dogs to run up and down.

There is also fresh water available for dogs, and parking is free all around the park.

Give your furry friend the day of his life at Wildwood Dog Park, with all the room to run, play and meet new friends that they could ever want.

Wildwood Crest Beach

The soft white sand of Wildwood Crest Beach draws visitors from around Cape May County, with the town itself being relatively quiet and peaceful, especially in contrast with the more active portions of the Wildwood boardwalk.

There are many exciting events held at Wildwood Crest Beach through the summer, including the Annual Lifeguard Championship Event, with races and mock rescues exclusively by active lifeguards.

Parking varies by block but generally includes paid lots and meters.

If you are looking for fabulous and free Jersey Shore beaches…Wildwood is for you.

As with all Wildwood beaches, there are no beach access fees.

Check out more attractions and places to visit in Wildwood by reading this guide.

Aerial city view from the seaside in Wildwood New Jersey

Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach (9905 Seapointe Blvd, Wildwood Crest) is a private portion of Wildwood Crest, with fees that are slightly higher due to that intended privacy.

The name is a reference to the diamond-like pebbles that can be found speckled throughout the soft sand.

Multiple portions of the beach are reserved for surfing along with boogie boarding.

Lifeguards patrol during the entire peak season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Take note of where you are on the beach before swimming; the flag colors will indicate the status of the tide as well as the nature of each portion of the beach, from surfing to boogie boarding, swimming, and fishing.

Parking is a mix of free street parking, meters, and paid lots.

Poverty Beach

Poverty Beach was originally given its name when the area was a low-income area of Cape May, though it no longer actually fits that economic status.

The locals pride themselves on being a quiet, peaceful break from the rest of Cape May, as there is more limited access to lifeguards and you are generally further away from many of the landmarks of Cape May.

Parking is free, and there are no beach fees due partially to the lack of facilities made available here.

Cape May Beach

The pinnacle of South Jersey beaches, Cape May boasts centuries of history and some of the most beautiful views on the shoreline.

A rich history dating back hundreds of years is preserved in Cape May’s architecture and museums, and — in many ways — the beach itself feels like a similar trip back in time.

During the peak season, the beaches may be incredibly crowded and that is especially true in the downtown portion of the beach known as Cape May Beach.

After the peak summer season, Cape May is actually one of our favorite fall getaways in NJ.

There are paid parking meters and lots around town, and parking is notably difficult to find, so try to get there a bit early and claim your spot before the major rush.

Beach tags are slightly above average due to their high popularity, with a range of options including daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal.

If you are looking for a great Jersey Shore beach vacation, you can’t go wrong with Cape May.

Long evening shadows on the beach at Cape May, New Jersey

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach (502 Sunset Blvd, Cape May) is named for its phenomenal view of the sunset over the water.

The aforementioned sunset is technically over the bay, which is the closest thing to ocean sunsets on the Jersey Shore.

The sand itself is pebbly, with diamond-like stones common in the Cape May and Wildwood area.

There is no beach fee and the limited lifeguard access means swimming is often restricted.

The unique sunset-viewing attraction draws plenty of tourists, an exciting collection of people huddling on the beach with loved ones as the sky turns pink, orange, and red.

Sunset Beach is also home to the famous SS Atlantus, a World War I ship that sank in the Sunset Beach bay and is slowly sinking further into the water each year.

The geographic position also provides the opportunity, if you’re fortunate enough, to spot whales making their way north or south during the migratory periods.

There is plenty of parking available, some free and others metered.

The crowd begins to surge around sundown, so if you can get there earlier you are more likely to find ideal parking.

Higbee Beach

With over 1,000 acres of preserved natural space, Higbee Beach (1 Higbees Beach Rd, Cape May) is a superbly peaceful piece of the Jersey Shore that feels entirely different from all other Jersey Shore beaches.

There is no commercialization or residential property of any kind, just serenity and open space.

Parking is free, but there are no lifeguards so there is no swimming allowed.

With walking trails weaving through marshlands and forests, it feels like you have been transported somewhere else in both time and space.

The untouched dunes and untrimmed beaches make it feel like you are the first person to arrive, as if there are no boardwalks or amusement parks in the whole world.

Cape May Point State Park

Cape May Point State Park (Light House Ave, Cape May Point) is a preserved natural space where you are encouraged to explore, including marshlands, the lighthouse, and pine forests.

This state park is an excellent place for bird-watching, with countless species spotted throughout the year, either migrating during the spring or fall and calling Cape May their home through the summer.

There are no fees and no lifeguards, with swimming restricted within the state park.

Parking is also free, with plenty of options due to the lack of swimming.

There is also a WWII Lookout Tower that is now considered a nationally-recognized historic place that has plenty of history to share with beachgoers.

Boat with Cape May written on it in New Jersey

Final Thoughts

We hope our list of Jersey Shore beaches inspired you to plan your next coastal getaway for summertime fun!

Feel free to leave your comments below and share your favorite memories and other beach recommendations.

Happy beach hopping!

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