9 Incredible Beach Getaways on the Jersey Shore

From fun and funky to classy and refined, there’s a beach for every person in the Garden State.

Fenced sandy path leading to the ocean at sunrise

Head to Beach Haven for incredible sunrises and museums.

Photo by cwieders/Shutterstock

New Jersey may be nicknamed the Garden State, but it just might be better known for its famous beaches. While there are plenty of lakes, bays, and rivers with shorelines, nothing beats the shore, where white sands stretch for 90 miles of the Atlantic Ocean coast.

Starting from Sandy Hook in the north to Cape May in the south, New Jersey is sprinkled with beaches for every kind of personality. Learn about the delightfully eclectic vibes of Asbury Park and the calm serenity of Spring Lake, and dive into the nine best New Jersey beaches.

White-sand beach with people in the distance

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, ferry service from Manhattan makes an easy excursion to the northernmost point of the Jersey Shore.

Photo by Maksym Bugaiev/Shutterstock

1. Sandy Hook Beach

  • Location: Middletown
  • Come for: Swimming and camping in the natural beach habitat with views of the Manhattan skyline

As part of the Gateway National Recreation Area stretching through New York Harbor to New York City’s Breezy Point, New Jersey’s Sandy Hook sits on a spit, with beach areas on both its bayside and oceanfront.

While the undeveloped shorelines provide ideal stretches of sand for beachgoers, a visit also offers a side of history: The country’s oldest working lighthouse, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse built in 1764, opens its keepers quarters and visitors center Fridays through Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours to the top are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with sign-ups starting at noon. Also notable: the nation’s first mortar battery, dating back to 1894 as part of Fort Hancock.

Where to stay

Overnight tent camping is available on site from spring to late fall. For the less DIY-inclined, Sandy Hook accommodations also include the boutique hotel BeachWalk at Sea Bright, which was renovated in 2023.

Boardwalk beside a beachside

Long Branch Beach’s oceanfront promenade is a favorite for both running and casual strolls.

Photo by James Andrews1/Shutterstock

2. Long Branch Beach

  • Location: Long Branch
  • Come for: a resort-town getaway, complete with wide beaches and boardwalk

Long Branch, subbed the “City by the Sea,” is a true resort town. The beach is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (though extended hours up to 7 p.m. are sometimes available, at the discretion of the beach manager.) Come for summer events, including the popular Oceanfest celebrated over the Fourth of July.

For the more chic side of the Shore, head to the oceanfront Pier Village, a mixed-use community with a range of shopping and dining options. (Don’t miss Sundae Donuts for a sweet treat!) Maybe even go for a spin on the Pier Village Carousel, which showcases a mix of hand-carved horses and marine animals.

Where to stay

Get a taste of Jersey Shore living by staying at Pier Village’s family-friendly beachfront The Wave Resort or the Ocean Place Resort & Spa, which includes pet-friendly rooms on its second floor.

Left image shows yellow pool chairs, right image shows a boardwalk.

The Asbury Hotel and boardwalk are a couple of Asbury Park’s points of interest.

Photos by Michelle Heimerman

3. Asbury Park Beach

  • Location: Asbury Park
  • Come for: a lively beach and boardwalk scene with a side of a musical history

There’s a delightfully funky retro vibe everywhere you turn in Asbury Park, from the grinning cartoon face of Tillie from a former amusement complex to the rock music legacy of The Stone Pony, the 50-year-old venue Bruce Springsteen made famous with his 1973 debut Greetings from Asbury Park.

Among the boardwalk standouts are the Silverball Retro Arcade with old pinball machines, mini golf courses, a splash park, as well as 28 eateries. But ultimately, the star of the show is its mile-long beach, a dream for sunbathers, swimmers, and people-watchers alike. Matthew Whelan, executive director of Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce, has a tip for beachgoers: Visit on a weekday when parking will be easier to find and beach badges are cheaper ($6 a day per person, instead of $10).

Where to stay

For the closest beach access in Asbury Park, Whelan suggests The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, which has been a landmark for nearly a century. “Don’t let its age fool you though,” Whelan says of the 1925 mainstay, noting it has all the amenities of a modern-day hotel, including a gym, pool, and bar.

Aerial view of the city by the coast

Belmar Beach is a great place to try boogie boarding and surfing.

Photo by Photo_Land/Shutterstock

4. Belmar Beach

  • Location: Belmar
  • Come for: clean beaches, boardwalk, and year-round festivals

With a reputation for having one of the best boardwalks on the shore, the mile-long oceanfront walkway is popular for pedestrians and bikers. Beach-themed festivals of every kind are also held here, from the Belmar Annual Sandcastle Contest to the New Jersey Seafood Festival. The Seventh Avenue Beach, in particular, has been recognized by the Natural Resources Defense Council for its cleanliness. An insider tip: The Natural Beach Area on the northern end offers a more serene vibe.

Where to stay

Belmar is filled with cozy bed and breakfast options, like The Saltwater Inn bed and breakfast with a sweet wrap-around porch or Tandem Bike Inn, which has a couple of deluxe rooms with jacuzzis.

Luxury summer homes along the coastline and board walk against pastel colored sunset skies.

There’s a sense of exhaling as soon as you pull into Spring Lake.

Photo by Benjamin Clapp

5. Spring Lake Beach

  • Location: Spring Lake
  • Come for: Serene, family-friendly atmosphere—and free parking

Spring Lake’s instant tranquility comes from everything it lacks: No food or alcohol on the beach, no trash cans on the sand, and no businesses along its 1.8-mile boardwalk. The necessities are still in reach, just tucked away into beach pavilions on the north and south ends. Both have a snack bar, restrooms, and shaded eating areas. With specially designated surfing areas, this beach has several spots to catch a wave.

Dawn McDonough of the Spring Lake Business Improvement District and Elizabeth Capone, executive director of Greater Spring Lake Chamber of Commerce, suggest early morning walks to enjoy the fresh sea breeze, as well as quiet spots on the most northern and southern ends. Another highlight from the pair: Beach yoga classes held regularly on the beach and pavilions.

Where to stay

The grand Breakers on the Ocean just might be one of the most iconic stays along the entire Jersey Shore, or perhaps lean into the calm at a bed and breakfast, like The Johnson House Inn.

Beach houses along an inlet

Point Pleasant Beach offers fun both on and off its boardwalk.

Photo by ESB Professional/Shutterstock

6. Point Pleasant Beach

  • Location: Point Pleasant Beach
  • Come for: water sports, sunbathing, and boardwalk entertainment

Point Pleasant Beach has all the Jersey Shore requisites for a proper day at the beach: games, rides, and entertainment at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, good eats at establishments like The Food Shack and The Shrimp Box, and most importantly, super clean sands. Complement the activities with a visit to the aquarium or the area’s antique shops.

Where to stay

Guests at The White Sands Oceanfront Hotel & Spa score access to the hotel’s private beach and pool. Alternatively, embrace the beach house lifestyle by going for a Point Pleasant Beach vacation rental.

Fenced sandy path leading to the ocean at sunrise

Head to Beach Haven for incredible sunrises and museums.

Photo by cwieders/Shutterstock

7. Beach Haven

  • Location: Long Beach Island
  • Come for: Lively entertainment and beach scene

The barrier island of Long Beach Island, referred to by locals as simply LBI, has a very proud community of regular beachgoers. Located on the island’s southern end, Beach Haven is where all the fun and games are—figuratively and literally. On the beach, there’s swimming, surfing, and beach volleyball. Back on land, there are attractions of every kind: Choose from the New Jersey Maritime Museum, Long Beach Island Historical Museum, Fantasy Island Amusement Park, and even musical productions at Surflight Theatre.

Where to stay

Choose your own adventure with your accommodations in Beach Haven, from bed and breakfasts like Williams Cottage Inn to family boutique hotels like Windward at the Beach.

Beachwith wooden dock from above with the ocean view

Wildwood Crest Beach is a great sandy stretch, in part thanks to its accessibility.

Photo by Creative Family/Shutterstock

8. Wildwood Crest Beach

  • Location: Wildwood Crest
  • Come for: No-fee beaches with expansive shores with oceanfront hotels

One of the trickiest hassles to navigate in New Jersey’s shores are the beach tags and fees. Wildwood Crest takes that pressure off by welcoming everyone to its sands without any costs or permits. Adding to the ease, many of its hotels are right on the beach. In fact, accessibility is a highlight here, with 39 streets adjacent to the beach, as well as surf chairs and handicap transport available to ensure there are no hurdles.

On the other side of town, there’s also Sunset Lake with water skiing, jet skiing, and boating, while Two Mile Beach is part of the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, with a trail through maritime forest habitat.

Where to stay

Madison Resorts just debuted its $52 million update of the Ocean Tower and Royal Tower—which used to be two separate hotel properties—to create the Madison Resort Wildwood Crest.

Colorful houses on an beach.

Combine fall foliage and the beach on a trip to Cape May.

Photo by EQ Roy/Shutterstock

9. Cape May

  • Location: Cape May
  • Come for: Victorian charm and beaches equally loved by families and surfers

With the second highest concentration of Victorian homes in the U.S. after San Francisco, the more than two miles of beach of Cape May combine historical and picturesque. For an aerial perspective, take in the shoreline from the top of the Cape May Lighthouse, which is a rare place on the East Coast where you can catch both the sunrise and sunset. Après-beach activities include trolley tours, bird watching, visits to the Harriet Tubman Museum, or dining at Beach Plum Farm.

Where to stay

With roots back in 1894, the Inn of Cape May has become a favorite for vacationers for generations, and is particularly aglow after a 2022 refresh. Another option is the Beach Club on Madison Avenue, which debuted its rebranding in March 2024 as an adults-only boutique hotel.

With two decades of experience, travel and pop culture journalist Rachel Chang is an Afar, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel + Leisure contributor. The solo travel advocate is a reluctant runner (but four-time marathoner) and dumplings addict.
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