Island Beach State Park is located in Barnegat Bay and sits directly between two major ocean harbors – East Coast and West Coast. Shaped by gentle tides and occasional hurricane, the park sits less than a mile high and has a long shoreline extending from its northern end to its southern end. This tranquil strip of land is home to dozens of species of birds, including blue birds, shorebirds, and several varieties of seabirds. Scattered among the trees, picnic tables dot the park and there are many public restrooms. Beachgoers are often allowed to bring their bicycles along with them on the many trails throughout the park.
The park itself is very much like a barrier island. It was formed due to an underwater canyon that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the channel that leads into Barnegat Bay, which is the site of the barrier island. When this massive geological formation was forming, it left behind massive shelves of sand that sit between the different ocean currents. As the waters slowly covered the area, it created what we today know as the Island Beach. Today, the park offers visitors a great place to just enjoy the natural beauty found within this amazing landscape.
The island beach and its surrounding maritime forest are home to the largest osprey colony in the state. Found throughout the state, this colony provides a healthy environment for the sea birds and other wildlife found within. The largest species found on the island is the black-footed booby, which is known for its beautiful colors and vibrant mating patterns.
Just like other parts of New Jersey, Island Beach State Park features a wide variety of scenic views, including the barrier island and tidal marshes. Surrounded by tidal marshes, this park offers a unique chance to get close to wildlife and learn more about how these animals interact with one another. On the island beach, you will find several different types of wildlife species, including gray whales, seals, and several types of birds. This park also features a viewing tower, where you can watch the wildlife come into view.
Just a short distance from the island beach at the Hurricane Harbor State Park, lies the quiet town of Oak Point. Known for being the perfect place to just relax and enjoy the beauty of nature, Oak Point is the home of two popular marinas. Located in the southern part of the state, this harbor is home to fishing and yachting enthusiasts as well as the public. Boat tours are available to help visitors discover the many wonders of Oak Point and its nearby beaches. Scenic trails and views of the bay provide the perfect backdrop for any day spent at the beach.
As you travel up and down the barrier island, you will stop at several other state parks as you explore the many wonderful sites along the barrier island. One of the best sites to visit is the Sand Barrens National Wildlife Refuge. Located north of St Georges Island, this park consists of a barrier island with a beach that protects an underwater plateau. Scuba divers, boaters, and wildlife enthusiasts can explore the underwater preserve while viewing various species of birds and mammals. Hiking and paddling trails, as well as boat charters, make this park one of the best on the Eastern seaboard.
The Southern tip of New Jersey is home to two other great beaches worthy of inclusion on your vacation list. Two bridges on the southern tip of New Jersey island make for a scenic hike that leads to a sandy beach at the end of the bridge. The other site, Sedge Island, also offers hiking and paddling adventures. Paddling along the beach at Sedge Island, which sits a short distance from the mainland, is easy due to the chain of soft coral that line the beach. This makes it a great place for families to spend time together. It’s also the perfect destination for a romantic picnic or romantic candlelight dinner on a deserted beach.
No matter how you enjoy your time on the island, there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to find a great destination for a day of relaxation, fun, and family fun. The best part about visiting this popular New Jersey beach state park is that it doesn’t cost a lot. With year-round bicycling, hiking, kayaking, swimming, boating, fishing, and sandy beach activities available, a day at the beach isn’t expensive at all.