Beach Basics

Before packing up for the Jersey Shore, be sure to read this summary of beach basics that will keep you safe and guide you to the right beach for you!

From Ocean City to Cape May Point, the Jersey Cape provides a playground of sparkling blue water and powdery soft sand that's tough to top! But before you grab your towel, chair, sunscreen and slip into your flip flops, here are some beach basics.

Specially trained lifeguards protect most of the beaches during the busy summer months and visitors are urged to swim only when a lifeguard is on duty. Cape May County's lifeguards undergo intense instruction, so when you see them on their stands, you can feel confident that you and your family are safe.

Most Jersey Cape beaches require a beach tag. If you're looking for a free day at the beach, head to the Wildwood beaches (North Wildwood, Wildwood and Wildwood Crest) or Strathmere (complete Free beaches list). There's also no beach fee in Atlantic City, but there are other good deals to be had, so check before you plan to dip your toes in the water. Tags can usually be purchased at a visitor's information center, booths at some beach entrances or from a beach tag checker. Most beach communities have reserved parking spaces, ramps and even surf chairs to accommodate people with physical disabilities. So check with a particular beach or town to see if they can meet any special needs you or your family have.

With basics out of the way, let's talk beaches. In Cape May County, there's a beach for every taste and lifestyle. Want to enjoy the wonders of nature while you bask in the sun? Then the beaches of Cape May might be the perfect spot for you. As if the beaches aren't charming enough, schools of dolphins frolicking in the water are practically a daily sight. You can arrange a ride from Cape May Whale Watcher. Need to take a break from the sun? Public restrooms, arcade games, treats and Cape May's famed Victorian architecture are never more than a short stroll away.

Do you love a long expanse of beach, where the sand seems to go on forever? Then pack up the kids and come to the Wildwoods! Wildwood, North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest have the biggest family-friendly beaches in the area. Be sure to take your little ones to North Wildwood; once they see the gazebos, swings, and playgrounds, you might not even make it to the actual beach. The Crest has long walkways to make the trek from the street end to the water's edge just a bit easier, especially when you're loaded down with boogie boards, chairs and other beach items.

Sea Isle City prides itself on being smaller - everything is a bit scaled down here, and that's just how they like it. Small arcades, amusements and miniature golf course dot the shoreline and Sea Isle's paved promenade is just a mile and a half long, making it the perfect length for an after beach stroll.

Looking for something a little more serene? The beaches in Stone Harbor and Avalon are among the finest in Southern New Jersey. This seven-mile stretch of white sand is clean, well guarded and not as crowded as other surrounding beaches.

Ocean City has eight miles of beautiful beaches and bay, which is plenty of space for sunbathing, boating, fishing, jet skiing and kayaking. And don't forget the two-plus miles of Boardwalk with two amusement parks, a water park, go-carts, bike rentals and miniature golf.

On the bayside, Corson's Inlet State Park stretches south of the parking lot to the bridge and some locals consider it a hidden treasure - the seclusion, white sand and beautiful dunes as paradise.

Maybe your idea of the perfect day at the beach doesn't involve crowds, hauling beach chairs or wearing three layers of sunscreen? Not all Cape May County's beaches are geared for sun worshippers and boogie boarders. The Delaware Bay side beaches are quiet, untouched areas and are very popular for jet skiing, fishing, kayaking and even windsurfing. But remember, unlike the ocean beaches, these bayside outposts are largely unguarded, so always use caution if you decide to take a dip. No matter which of our beautiful beaches your flip-flops lead you to, you'll be happy you're here....and reluctant to leave!