ISLAND BEACH STATE PARK
Shaped by storm and tides, Island Beach State Park is a narrow barrier island stretching for 10 miles between the restless Atlantic Ocean and the historic Barnegat Bay. Island Beach is one of New Jersey's last significant remnants of a barrier island ecosystem that once existed along much of the coast and is also one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the north Atlantic coast. Over 3,000 acres and 10 miles of coastal dunes remain almost untouched since Henry Hudson first described New Jersey's coast from the ship, the Half Moon, in 1609.
Miles of sand dunes and white sandy beaches offer habitat to maritime plants and diverse wildlife that is almost the same as it was thousands of years ago. Island Beach contains outstanding examples of plant communities such as primary dunes, thicket, freshwater wetlands, maritime forest and tidal marshes. The state's largest osprey colony, as well as peregrine falcons, wading birds, shorebirds, waterfowl and migrating songbirds, are found here. Island Beach is nationally known as a unique resource with over 400 plants identified, including the largest expanses of beach heather in New Jersey.
Approximately one mile of designated ocean bathing beach is located in the central portion of the park. During the period from mid-June through Labor Day, this bathing beach is staffed with lifeguards who are trained in ocean lifesaving and first aid techniques. Nearby are parking areas and bathhouse pavilions with changing areas, first aid stations, and concessions.
Island Beach State Park is well known by New Jersey's saltwater anglers for excellent surf fishing for striped bass and bluefish. Other species include summer founder and weakfish. During the appropriate season, fishing for tautog along the north jetty of Barnegat Inlet is especially rewarding. Bait and fishing information may be obtained at local tackle dealers before entering the park. Saltwater fishing is subject to New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and State Park Service regulations. Information regarding saltwater fishing regulations can be found in the Fish and Wildlife Digest, which is available at local tackle dealers.
Mobile Sport Fishing Vehicle permits to operate 4-wheel drive vehicles on the fishing beaches may be obtained at the Park's Visitor Contact Station at the entrance gate.
$50.00 3-Day Permit$195.00 Annual Permit
Although tables and grills are not available in the park, visitors may enjoy picnicking on the ocean beach. Grills may be used on the beach south of the designated bathing area. Fires must be at least 50 feet east of the dunes, and picnickers are required to extinguish their fires before leaving the area. Island Beach State Park requires visitors to "Carry In/Carry Out" their garbage.
The Island Beach State Park Discovery Trails System provides a self-guided experience through the nine plant communities of a barrier island. Wayside exhibits located along each trail interpret the natural and cultural stories of the park. There are a total of 8 trails, each under one mile. For a copy of the Discovery Trails brochure and map, please contact the Park Office.
Horseback riding is permitted at Island Beach State Park from October 1 through April 30. There are six miles of ocean beach in the southern and central portions of the park available for equestrian use and a parking area is designated for horse trailers during this time period. Reservations are required by contacting the park office at (732) 793-0506.
Island Beach State Park's natural sand dune formations and relatively undisturbed vegetation create a natural classroom for the study of a barrier island ecosystem. In addition to the canoe and kayak tours, the park's interpretive program describes the natural history of the island through tours and activities scheduled daily during the summer months. Group tours maybe arranged in advance through the Park's Nature Center.
Interpretive facilities include the Nature Center, the Forked River Coast Guard Station No. 112 Interpretive Center, and the visitor's station at the Ocean Bathing Unit #1. Daily tours during the summer are held at this location.
The Emily DeCamp Interpretive Center
The Emily DeCamp Herbarium is a collection of approximately 400 plants that have been classified and preserved, giving the public an opportunity to learn about the nine plant communities at Island Beach State Park. One of the main attractions of this herbarium is that the visiting public and scientists are able to handle and examine individual plants. Plants have been placed in a protective mount that also gives historical and factual information about the plant. The herbarium is kept at the Forked River Interpretive Center.
Ten miles of pure white sand beach attract swimmers, sunbathers, anglers and surfers. Modern bathhouses, beach access ramps, a mile of beach with lifeguards, historic buildings, trails, interpretive programs, bike paths and facilities for people with disabilities combine to make Island Beach a unique place to explore.
Bicycling and Horseback Riding
A designated bicycle path is located along more than 8 miles of the main road. Six miles of ocean beach in the southern and central portions of the park are available for equestrian use from October 1 through April 30. A parking area is designated for horse trailers during this time period. There are no horse rental facilities in or near the park. Please contact the park office for further information.
The bayside of the island is a nutrient-rich feeding ground for birds, fish and other wildlife. Naturalist guided canoe and kayak tours during the summer months take participants through the Sedge Islands where they can observe a wide variety of wildlife, including nesting ospreys, falcons and wading birds. Bird observation blinds give visitors the opportunity to view the wildlife in this very important habitat.Island Beach Northern Natural Area (659 acres) and
Southern Natural Area (1,237 acres)
Together, these two natural areas encompass one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches in the northeast United States. Rolling sand dunes, salt-sculptured vegetation, lush green salt marshes, and nine plant communities including a nationally significant maritime forest characterize Island Beach. The federally threatened piping plover is an occasional inhabitant of the open beaches and dunes. Access to portions of the Northern Natural Area is restricted.
Sailboarding and Surfing
Portions of the ocean beach at the extreme southern end of the designated bathing area have been set aside for sailboarding and surfing. For further information, please contact the Park Office.
Scuba diving and underwater fishing are permitted along 2.5 miles of ocean beach just north of Barnegat Inlet. Scuba divers must register at the park office just prior to their first dive each year. Proof of current diving certification is required. Spear and underwater fishing are subject to New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife regulations. Diving in Barnegat Inlet is permitted and subject to New Jersey Boating Commission Special Regulations.
BBs / Inns
The Manchester Inn, The Ocean Grove New Jersey Bed Breakfast and The Secret Garden Restaurant are steps from the white sandy beach and the gentle surf of the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy the cooling ocean breezes from our rocking chair porch while overlooking Ocean Pathway, Ocean Groves finest avenue
26 miles from park*
Take Route 37 east to Route 35 south to park entrance.