Barnegat Peninsula of New Jersey
The Jersey shore is a popular place in summer. It offers visitors a place to cool off, swim, and just relax and unwind. A stretch of vacation nirvana is found along the barrier island known as the Barnegat Peninsula. On the east side of the island is the beautiful sandy beach and the Atlantic Ocean, while the west is bordered by Barnegat Bay. This similarity is about the only thing that remains the same as you travel from one end of the peninsula to the other. Each of the many districts along the way has its own distinctive personality. Let’s take a look at some of these communities and see what they offer.
The northernmost communities are just south of the Manasquan River and include two cities, Point Pleasant and Point Pleasant Beach. The latter is the typical Jersey shore, but with a family atmosphere and its own commercial boardwalk. Here you can also find a small commercial fishery, with a seafood cooperative and several nice little restaurants. There are also hotels, motels and like the rest of the peninsula, a beach protected by lifeguards. To get to the beach and support lifeguards, you will need to purchase beach badges. There are daily, weekly and seasonal rates. Point Pleasant is located west of Point Pleasant Beach and is more of a settled community than a summer vacation destination. There is an old downtown area (with many antique shops) and some other very commercial districts.
Moving south, the next community is Mantoloking. Here is a connection to the mainland, through a bridge across the bay. Mantoloking is a fantasy of yesteryear. Many of the houses, especially along the beach, are very large and quite expensive. Tourism, so to speak, is not that important here, as there is little commercial activity in the city, there is no boardwalk, and few accommodations available to people who do not own property here.
Further south you will reach Normandy Beach, Chadwich Beach and Dover Beaches South. The appearance of the houses here is in stark contrast to what lies north of Mantoloking. Some areas of these communities consist of rows of small bungalows accessed by narrow sandy lanes. Along the bay, however, there are many larger and more elegant homes, many of which have access to Barnegat Bay and docks right outside the back door of each property.
Moving on, one next finds Lavallette and Ortley Beach. While these cities are distinctive enough, as a whole they are much more similar to each other compared to the other cities just mentioned. Here, they were once mostly smaller beach bungalows, but over the years most of these have been replaced by larger houses. There are also some hotels and motels, condos, and many rental houses. There are also some commercial areas along Route 35 and more amenities.
Seaside Heights is the next stop and this is the busiest and wildest neighborhood of all. It has a large commercial boardwalk with two amusement piers and many galleries, games, places to eat, and bars. A summer weekend at Seaside is like a spring break in Florida. Many teenagers. Wild parties. And a crowded beach during the day.
Next is Seaside Park. This is somewhere between Mantoloking and Lavallette / Ortley Beach in its feel. Some nice big old houses, quieter and more family oriented than the more commercialized Seaside Heights and some small commercial areas with shops, stores and places to eat.
Finally, the last ten miles of the Barnegat Peninsula are a different kind of wilderness. Island Beach State Park is an undeveloped barrier island. Very unusual for New Jersey and a stark contrast to the rest of the paved peninsula. You can even find wild foxes that live among the dunes and the maritime forest of the park.
As you can see, this roughly 20 mile coastal barrier island offers a wide variety of places to visit. In some ways, it’s all the same while you’re lounging on the beach, but whatever you want (or can) do off the beach during your summer vacation on the Barnegat Peninsula can have a lot to do with where you stay.