Cape May’s beaches are a great place to be on a hot summer afternoon, a cool autumn morning or a balmy spring night. Whether you are a beachcomber, sunbather, surfer or sandcastle builder, you are sure to enjoy your time on these white sand beaches. To maximize your enjoyment, here is information you will want to know.
First, it’s important to understand the geography of Cape May and where its beaches are located to determine which beach will best suit your needs. As you come south into Cape May from the Garden State Parkway, you will cross over the canal that makes Cape May an island. The canal cuts from the east where the Cape May Inlet is located, through to the west where the Delaware Bay is located. From one canal opening to the other, Cape May’s coast is a continuous sandy strand that hugs the Cape from the ocean to the bay, but not all areas of the coast are accessible to visitors due to designated protected wildlife areas. However, the beaches that are designated as such offer visitors different beach experiences.
Starting in the northeast are Cape May city beaches, from Poverty Beach at Wilmington Street down to Cove Beach at Second Avenue. A protected wildlife area then extends to the Cape May Lighthouse where Cape May Point State Park begins. Next is Cape May Point, which is the tip of the Cape. After that is Sunset Beach and then, finally, Higbee Beach which lies on the canal and the bay. Here, we’ve broken down each beach area and provided pertinent information for you:
Cape May City Beaches
Lifeguards – Cape May city beaches are protected from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Beach tags – Required for all individuals 12 years or older from Memorial Day to Labor Day between the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Beach tags can be purchased at the Beach Tag Office and at all beach entrances during the summer.
The 2017 Summer Season rates for beach tags are: $6 for daily, $12 for a consecutive 3-day pass, $18 for weekly $28 for seasonal tags. Beach tags are free for all veterans of the United States Armed Forces, as well as active duty military members and their immediately families.
Comfort stations – Restrooms are available along the beach at 2nd Avenue, Broadway, Windsor, Gurney, Philadelphia, Trenton and Wilmington.
Description of Cape May city beaches:
Poverty Beach (at Wilmington Street) – This is the northern most beach in Cape May. Free parking is available on street and the crowd normally consists of residents from the area. A comfort station is located at Wilmington Street.
Brooklyn to Howard Streets – Beach Avenue between these streets is lined with homes and hotels. Parking is metered on the street. Comfort station is located at Trenton and Philadelphia Streets.
Howard to Perry Streets– This is Cape May’s commercial beachfront area where Beach Avenue is lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Along the boardwalk between Howard and Gurney streets is an arcade, restaurants, shops and the Convention Center. Parking is metered on the street and comfort stations are located at Gurney Street.
Steger’s Beach – Located between Jackson and Perry Streets is Steger’s Beach. It is named after the family who owns a beach service in this area where cabanas, chairs, umbrellas and other beach essentials are available for rent. This area is popular with young locals. Parking is metered on the street.
Perry to Congress Street – This is where the famous Congress Hall hotel is located. On the beach here, for the comfort of hotel guests, is a personalized beach chair and towel service. Parking is metered on the street.
Congress Street to 2nd Avenue – Beach Avenue between these streets is lined primarily by hotels. Parking is metered on the street and comfort stations are located at Windsor, Broadway and 2nd Avenue.
Cove Beach – This family-friendly beach is the southernmost of the city beaches. Parking is metered on the street and a comfort station is located at 2nd Avenue.
Cape May Point State Park Beach – This is the home of the Cape May Lighthouse. The beach is free to visit here, but swimming is prohibited. No lifeguards are on duty here.
Cape May Point Beach – This neighborhood beach is at the very tip of the cape. Lifeguards are on duty but there are no comfort stations, stores or restaurants in this area.
Sunset Beach – This beach is on located where the ocean meets the bay. Sunset Beach is famous for its “Cape May Diamonds”. Sunset Grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner where diners can eat outside. Shops are also here, including a large gift shop that sells Cape May Winery wines. There are no lifeguards on duty here and it is not a safe swimming location. The big draw for this beach is the nightly sunset and flag-lowering ceremony. There are two free parking lots, free parking on the streets and a restroom is located inside of the gift shop.
Higbee Beach – This is a designated wildlife management area, with no bathrooms and no lifeguards. It is not a safe place to swim due to submersed objects, but it is a great place for beachcombing and watching the ferries enter and leave port from Cape May enroute to Lewes Delaware.
Rules and Regs
- Dogs are not allowed on Cape May City beaches during the summer months. They are allowed along the Delaware Bay year-round, and on Higbee Beach during certain parts of the year.
- By city ordinance, fires are not permitted on Cape May City Beaches, nor may any portable device be used for cooking. By state law, fires are not permitted on Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area.
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