A Different Kind of Beach

Higbee Beach, on the Delaware Bay, welcomes a different type of crowd in West Cape May.

Higbee Beach.
Photo by Colin Archer & Marc Steiner/Agency New Jersey.

Higbee Beach is a secluded 1.5 mile strip of sand along the Delaware Bay. It’s technically part of the Jersey Shore, but it’s a beach sought out by a different kind of crowd.

Higbee is tucked away at the dead end of New England Road in West Cape May, where handmade signs plead for people to slow down. Yes, there’s a parking lot at the edge of the dead end, but not a big one. Get there early on a summer day if you want a spot. You have to work a bit harder to get to the actual beach, too: a short trek through woods that turn into hilly dunes that open up onto sand that, even at high tide, is barely two beach blankets wide.

This beach doesn’t have what many beachgoers crave: waves for jumping, lifeguards for protecting (and eye candy) and open space. Labeling the lapping of water as waves is generous. Instead, the water sways across the sand, gently shimmying up and down the beach with the tides.  

But you can bring your dog. You don’t need a beach tag. You can enjoy a beer or two without being chased off by the polite police. You won’t have your summer day drowned out by someone else’s music. The only real disruption is the Cape May-Lewes Ferry chugging in and out of the bay. Until 1999, you could even tan in your birthday suit. Some people still treat Higbee as a nude beach, but only for swimming. It’s unlikely you’ll see anyone in the buff on their beach blankets.

Higbee is also popular with birders. Year round, they come looking for migrating yellow warblers, orchard orioles, white-eyed vireos and hawks. Expect to see more—birds and birders—in spring and fall during migration season.

If you go, bring shoes sturdier than flip flops for the walk from the parking lot. If you’re bringing your dog, keep it leashed and bring plenty of doggie bags.

And relax.

Jen A. Miller is author of The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May.

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