Beach Guide: Ocean County

A town-by-town guide to Ocean County beaches.

New Jersey Monthly Magazine - The Shore Issue - June 2013

Point Pleasant Beach
Exit N-90/S-98
When Sandy Hit: The storm wrecked much of the south end of Jenkinson’s Boardwalk and washed away Putt-Putt Mini Golf, the South Beach Arcade and South Beach Sweets. In all, about 85 percent of the town’s boardwalk was demolished. Many of the buildings along Inlet Drive, the hub of Point Pleasant Beach’s fishing industry, had structural damage.

The Recovery: “Although the damage from the storm was devastating, we have decided to look at it as an opportunity to make improvements and bring our guests new experiences,” says Toby Wolf, director of marketing for Jenkinson’s. The mini golf course is being rebuilt with a seashore theme as a 36-hole dual course by Harris Mini Golf of Wildwood and should be finished by early summer. The South Beach Arcade has been revamped, adding a 16-seat Trio-Tech motion theater ride. All other Jenkinson attractions, including the aquarium and amusement park—which were not hurt—will be operating as usual. All sections of the boardwalk are expected to be fixed by Memorial Day weekend.

Don’t Miss: Jenkinson’s Aquarium, Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club, Hoffman’s Ice Cream, Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties, Patio Bar at Jack Baker’s Wharfside, Martell’s Tiki Bar.

Beach Fee: Season, $80; ages 5-11, $45; seniors, $55. Daily, $7; ages 5-11, $2. Weekends and holidays, $8.

Parking: Free or metered, on street and in private lots.


Bay Head
Exit N-90/S-98
When Sandy Hit: Despite a seawall buried under its tall dunes, Bay Head got pummeled. Many homes on the beach along East Avenue were washed off their foundations. Inland, flooding and wind ruined homes and businesses such as the popular Mueller’s Bakery, which at press time remained closed.

The Recovery: Bay Head Improvement Association anticipates restoring regular access to the beach this summer, although some entrances might be closed. Some homeowners have begun rebuilding, but East Avenue still looks severely scarred.

Beach Fee: Season, $70. Half-season, $45. Daily, $7. Under 12, free.

Parking: Free.


Exit N-88/S-90
When Sandy Hit: No town took a worse hit than Mantoloking. The ocean breached the barrier island and merged into Barnegat Bay, cutting the town in two at the base of the Mantoloking Bridge. The majority of homes in the area were rendered uninhabitable.

The Recovery: It took two months for the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Transportation to reopen the bridge. Repopulation of the devastated town began slowly in late winter. There are tentative plans for limited public access to the beach this summer because of the remaining debris.

Beach Fee: Season, $12. Under 12 and military, free.

Parking: Two-hour metered parking on most streets; parking for longer periods on Downer Avenue.


Exit 82
When Sandy Hit: The southern end of the boardwalk took a pounding, and about 20 homes along the water were destroyed. Townwide, about 75 percent of homes needed work.

The Recovery: The repaired boardwalk should be ready for summer crowds, but only a limited number of beach entrances will open so that beach replenishment can continue throughout the summer. New dune fences will limit access.

Don’t Miss: Ben Franklin 5 & 10, Crab’s Claw Inn, Lenny’s Pizza (a favorite of Governor Christie).

Beach Fee: Season, $45; seniors, $14. Weekly, $25. Daily, $7; under 12, free.

Parking: Season, $10; limited free street parking.


Seaside Heights
Exit 82
When Sandy Hit: Casino Pier was almost completely destroyed, leaving the iconic Jet Star Rollercoaster rising from the ocean. In all, five rides washed off the end of the pier into the Atlantic. The boardwalk also was wrecked. The Casino Arcade flooded, destroying the building’s electrical system and damaging the 103-year-old Floyd Moreland Carousel. Storefronts along the boardwalk filled with debris, and longstanding souvenir shops like Twisted Fish were forced to close.

The Recovery: Jenkinson’s Breakwater Beach Waterpark and the Casino Pier Go-Karts will be open by Memorial Day weekend. The rest of what remains of the pier has been cleared of almost all the rides, which are being repaired off-site. The lower deck of the pier will be open by summer with rides for all ages; the upper deck is being rebuilt, but won’t be ready this year. The boardwalk is being rebuilt for this season; free public restrooms will be available at most beach entrances. The Beach Bar on the boardwalk is not expected to reopen until 2014.

Don’t Miss: Club Karma, Hemingway’s Café, Kohr’s Ice Cream.

Beach Fee: Season, $50. Daily, $6. Under 12, free.

Parking: Metered on street; private lots, $5-$10.


Seaside Park
Exit 82
When Sandy Hit: FunTown Pier was demolished in the storm, and several rides ended up in the Atlantic, including the Ferris wheel, the Cliffhanger, Loop Coaster and Arctic Circle. The Carousel Arcade was also destroyed.

The Recovery: Bill Majors, owner of FunTown Pier, anticipates reopening the park in the summer of 2014 with bigger rides and an expanded pier.

Beach Fee: Season, $50 ($55 after June 14); seniors, $20. Weekly, $35. Daily, $10. Under 11, free.

Parking: Metered.


Island Beach State Park
Exit 82
When Sandy Hit: The gatehouse and maintenance buildings flooded, the lifeguard stands and boardwalks at the main swimming areas were destroyed, and the park lost gas and electricity. Several of the dunes were breached, creating massive piles of sand along Shore Road.

The Recovery: After removal of debris and restoration of displaced sand, the state reopened the northern side of the park on January 25. Bob Considine of the state Department of Environmental Protection says the park should be fully operational by summer.

Don’t Miss: Some of the best fishing in New Jersey; eight miles of bike paths; 10 miles of undeveloped beach.

Beach Fee: Free.

Parking: Season, $50. Daily, $6. Weekends, $10. Motorcycles, $5.


Long Beach Island
When Sandy Hit: The southern end of the island was hard hit, with Holgate and Beach Haven suffering the most damage. Throughout LBI , the streets were filled with sand, and all water, sewer, electric, gas and phone service was disrupted. Damage to beachfront homes depended largely on whether or not dunes were in place; Harvey Cedars, which has dunes, lost no homes. Barnegat Lighthouse on the northern tip of LBI escaped harm. To the south, the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven was badly flooded.

The Recovery: The island rebounded quickly. Lori Pepenella of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce says LBI will be ready for summer, with “over 90 percent of the island’s motels and rentals” fully functional. The Surflight Theatre also is ready to go:

Barnegat Light
Don’t Miss: Barnegat Lighthouse (only $3 to climb 217 steps for a great view), Viking Village, Mustache Bill’s Diner, Andy’s by the Light

Beach Fee: Season, $35 ($25 through June 15); seniors 65+ $10. Weekly, $20. Daily, $5; 11 and under, free.

Parking: Free.


Harvey Cedars
Don’t Miss: Plantation Restaurant

Beach Fee: Season, $40 ($30 through June 22); seniors, $9. Weekly, $20. Daily, $6.

Parking: Free.


Surf City
Don’t Miss: Crabbing on the bay, Surf City Island Mini-Golf

Beach Fee: Season, $35 ($30 through May 31). Weekly, $17. Daily, $6. Under 11 and 65+, free.



Ship Bottom
Don’t Miss: Original Ron Jon Surf Shop, Joe Pop’s Shore Bar, Hartland Mini-golf and Arcade

Beach Fee: Season, $40 ($30 through May 31); seniors, $10. Weekly, $20. Daily, $5. 11 and under, free.

Parking: Free.


Long Beach Township
Don’t Miss: Daddy O (Brant Beach), Skipper Dipper (Peahala Park)

Beach Fee: Season, $40 ($30 through June 15); seniors, $5. Weekly, $20. Daily, $5. 12 and under, free.

Parking: Free.


Beach Haven
Don’t Miss: Fantasy Island, Thundering Surf Water Park, Chicken or the Egg, Pearl Street Market, Surflight Theatre, Terrace Tavern, Sea Shell Resort, Ketch Bar, Marlin Bar, Buckalew’s Tavern.

Beach Fee: Season, $40 ($30 through June 22). Weekly, $20. Daily, $5. Under 12 and 65+, free.

Parking: Free.

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