It’s summertime, and nothing screams summer more than a beach vacation. Watching the sunrise over the ocean, fighting off seagulls from your french fries and strolling down the boardwalk after a long day in the sand. Growing up in Maryland, Ocean City was always the place to go, but after a while, visiting the same beach over and over again can get a little boring. So if you’re looking to spice up your summer fun, you may want to escape for a day to one of these nine secret beaches in New Jersey.
1. Pearl Beach
This secret New Jersey beach is located in Cape May and neighbors the more popular Sunset Beach. Though Pearl Beach doesn’t have a boardwalk or utilities, it does have access to Pearl Avenue and is considered one of the least crowded beaches according to USA Today.
2. Turtle Beach
Though surf and sand are typically what comes to mind, this secret New Jersey beach spot comes with lots of grass and is also labeled the only official beach area on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap—how cool is that? Part of it is technically in Pennsylvania (but we won’t tell anyone if you don’t).
3. Diamond Beach
Looking for a staycation? Located in Wildwood, Diamond Beach gives you private beach access while staying at Icona Resorts. With rooms starting around $200 per night on weekdays, you can enjoy the heated pool, fitness center, a beach bar and also get some grub at Coastal Blue Bar & Grill.
4. Gunnison Beach
Not only is this the first official beach of the Jersey Shore coastline, but it also comes with the iconic view of the New York City skyline across the Atlantic. Along with the unique scenery, this beach in Sandy Hook has hiking trails, picnic spots and is home to the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. Oh, and you can also take the sun in the nude if your heart desires. Gunnison Beach just so happens to be the only clothing-optional beach in New Jersey. Overall, I guarantee you’ve seen nothing like this beach before.
5. North Brigantine State Natural Area
One of the rare, untouched secret beaches of New Jersey is North Brigantine Beach. This sandy beach and salt marsh is crawling with minnows, sand crabs, diamondback terrapins and many other species common in coastal marine habitats. Bird watching and surf fishing are especially popular in this secret escape. But the fun doesn’t end once the seasons change; I definitely recommend to stop by in the fall to see the monarch butterflies on their journey south!
6. Island Heights (Private Beach)
This calm, slow-paced beach town is the perfect idea for a relaxing weekend, and that’s exactly what you get in Island Heights. Colorful waterfront homes, an old-fashioned vibe and even a yacht club all come with the charm of this lovely beach spot. And they have a Playa Bowls, you know, the essentials.
7. Spring Lake Beach
Let’s change the pace to a more commercial spot. Spring Lake Beach has a vibrant boardwalk, a two-mile stretch of beach and a stellar shopping scene on Third Avenue. Their website is packed with different activities and events perfect for a date night or some family fun. If one thing is for sure, you’ll never be bored during your stay in Spring Lake.
8. Sedge Island
Sandwiched between Barnegat in LBI and Island Beach State Park, Sedge Island is the epitome of a secret spot in New Jersey. Here, beautiful wetlands are thriving with wildlife and epic views. Grab a paddleboard and make your way through the shallow sandbars as you take in the sights.
9. Beach at Avalon
While the town isn’t a complete secret to New Jerseyans (just due north of the fabled Stone Harbor), this borough of beaches is the perfect secluded escape for a quick getaway. There are guarded swimming spots and places to raft and surf all throughout the borough. Though there is no commercial boardwalk, there are still plenty of dining and entertainment options on Dune Drive like Cafe Loren and Pirate Island Mini-Golf.
Bonus: Strawberry Avenue
If you enjoy hiking and getting out into nature, this may be the perfect destination for your next excursion. This boardwalk through the marshlands is a part of Commercial Township’s wetlands restoration site and comes with surreal views and a variety of sea-birds.
Looking for more secret New Jersey beaches? Or just looking for the perfect sandy spot for you and your dog? Check out our suggestions for dog-friendly beaches in New Jersey.