For the nature lover, swimmer, surf fisher or just beach lover, Island Beach State Park is a paradise on earth. Anyone who thinks New Jersey is all corporate corridors and bedroom communities should visit this beautiful barrier island at the middle of the state's long, beautiful shoreline. The Park contains ten miles of natural shoreline, and includes maritime forests, undulating sand dunes and tidal marshes that are home to hundreds of different plants and wildlife.
Swimming, sunbathing, surf fishing at the great this great State Park (that still belongs to New Jersey) surf fishing beach or just enjoying the beautiful sands and the peace of a natural preserve that also happens to be a beach are the main activities on Island Beach State Park. It is a just across the bay from Seaside Heights, so after a relaxing day at this beautiful beach, you will feel rested enough for all the rides and activities on the boardwalk. The park and beach are open from 8:00 a.m. (7:00 a.m. on summer weekends and holidays) and closes at dusk.
All of this beauty does not come free, however. There is a vehicle entry fee ranging from $5 in the off season to $10 for Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from the "official" season, from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day weekend. But if you have a carful of friends, this can be a real bargain, and don't forget how lovely those early fall days can be on the beach. Plus if you live or are vacationing nearby, you can walk or bike onto the beach for free. And compared to the daily beach fees of other Jersey Shore beaches, it is still a real bargain.
The park and beach are considered full when all of the parking spaces are taken. This can and does happen, especially on summer weekends, so if you plan to go then, get there early. Island Beach State Park attracts approximately one million visitors a year!
Besides swimming (of course!), with a swimming beach in the middle of the park, and lifeguards on duty from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. They are only there on weekends from Memorial Day weekend until the second Saturday in June, but every day after that until Labor Day. Near the beach, you will find bathing houses where you can change, as well as food concession stands. But you are also welcome to pack a picnic, although you cannot light a grill or fire on the beaches in the swimming area. But you can light up the grill south of the swimming area; what other beach lets you do this? As long as the fire is 50 feet east of the dunes and is properly extinguished, even an open fire is OK. The park has a "carry in, carry out" policy towards refuse, so let the naturalist/environmentalist in you step up here.
A very unusual feature on New Jersey beaches, horses can be ridden on the beach at Island Beach State Park, although it is only allowed from October to April. You can also drive your four wheel drive vehicle onto the beach, but you will have to obtain a permit and you are restricted to certain areas. You can find out more about driving on the beach by calling the park at 732-793-0506.
In the 1940's, The National Park Service attempted to purchase the land for a National Park, but it did not receive the required support. In 1953, the State of New Jersey purchased the property and it became a State Park, thus making it a uniquely Jersey Jewel.
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