High Bar Harbor, Long Beach Island
The beach almost nobody knows on LBI is a lollipop-shaped, mile-long spit of land on the northern end, so hush-hush that at least one local tourist map doesn’t even show it.
It’s a section of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, located inside Barnegat Inlet and just behind the light itself. You’ll probably be alone except for the occasional jogger or dog walker.
There is no development to be seen other than “Old Barney”—as the lighthouse is known—and some homes near it. In back of you there are sand dunes and trees; in front of you, the lighthouse and the mouth of the inlet leading to open water. The beach is usually clean but not groomed—mounds of seaweed speckle the sand, a small price to pay for seclusion.
To find it, take Long Beach Boulevard north into the Borough of Barnegat Light and turn left on 20th Street, which becomes Auburn Road. After about a third of a mile, bear right at a Y intersection onto Sunset Boulevard and take it to the end, another third of a mile. You’ll see a footpath to the beach.
Get yourself a spot on the narrow, half-mile bottleneck of sand (the stick of the lollipop, and watch out for high tide) or keep going to where it broadens into a round shape, about a half-mile walk. You can’t circle back, though—near the top of the lollipop a thicket of vegetation hanging over the water blocks your path. It extends all the way around the other side of the lollipop. So to return, go back the way you came.
Northern Natural Area, Island Beach State Park
Just south of the honky tonk of Seaside Heights, Island Beach State Park ushers you into unspoiled maritime forest. Yeah, we know. Island Beach is no secret—most of its bathing beaches are pretty crowded. But not this one.
Drive south on Central Avenue past Seaside Heights and quieter Seaside Park, and you’ll arrive at the gate of Island Beach State Park (entrance fee $6 weekdays, $7 weekends, Memorial Day through Labor Day). Half a mile past the entrance, look for a maintenance yard on your left. Park in the small lot across the road, walk toward the maintenance buildings, and take the unmarked footpath on your left. You’ll pass some of the Shore’s most spectacular dunes, bursting with grasses and beach plum, and emerge onto a beach where usually only a few walkers dot the shoreline. Looking north, you’ll see the amusement park rising boldly, but it’s three miles away.
Be warned: No lifeguards, so it is illegal to swim. And the dunes make it an ecologically sensitive area, so you’re not allowed to put down a blanket or even sit on the sand. Still, for a long peaceful walk, it can’t be beat.
North End Beach, Brigantine
Though secluded, this beach is not hidden. It’s just way out there, about three miles from the nearest road. Just north of Atlantic City, on the north end of the barrier island that includes the city of Brigantine, a natural preserve stretches finger-like beyond where the development stops.
To get there, drive over the Atlantic-Brigantine bridge and follow Brigantine Avenue to the end, about 2.5 miles. Beyond that, it’s all beach. But you are still almost three miles from the primo privacy.
If you have a vehicle that won’t bog down in the sand (and you pay $160 for a seasonal permit), you can drive the first mile and a half on the beach to where the surf fishermen park their pickups and SUVs. Signs there say the preserve beyond is closed to vehicles during piping plover nesting season—the whole summer, pretty much. So head north on foot. The farther you go, the more seclusion you are likely to find.
There are no lifeguards so swimming is not allowed, but the Beach Patrol doesn’t mind an ankle-deep walk in the surf.
Bring bug spray. If the wind blows from the ocean, no problem; but if it blows from the marshes on Widgeon Bay, nasty flies will swarm and bite you silly.
Stone Harbor Point, Stone Harbor
Stone Harbor is not just mansions and boutiques for the wealthy. If you know where to go, you will find an exceptionally wide, unspoiled beach with few visitors except for binocular-toting birders.
Take Second Avenue south to the parking lot at the south end of town, below the last homes on 122nd Street. Look for a short sandy trail lined with wild yarrow (it looks like yellow garden yarrow, only smaller). The trail winds between the dunes to the ocean.
You will soon leave the mansions behind. Depending on tides and erosion, you can walk as far as two miles, largely undisturbed, says frequent visitor Paul Kerlinger, author of How Birds Migrate and other nature books. When you reach the southern tip, at Hereford Inlet, you have to be careful not to get stranded—what was dry beach on your way in can become a flooded sandbar on your way out. For information on tides at Stone Harbor/Hereford Inlet, check saltwatertides.com.
Kerlinger says Stone Harbor Point is a great place to see flocks of gulls, terns, and sanderlings. If you are lucky (and the shore birds aren’t), a peregrine falcon will swoop down out of the sky and scatter the flocks aloft in panic.
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