What to do in Island Beach State Park

Information provided by New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry

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.

Daily Programs at Ocean Swimming Area 1

TOUR THE BEACH – (11:00 am – 11:45 am)- Search for beach treasures as you walk with a naturalist. Learn about the animals and plants that have adapted to this ever changing environment. All ages welcome!

SEINE THE BAY – (1:00 pm – 1:45 pm) A seine is a large net that is used to catch fish and other aquatic animals. Walk to Barnegat Bay and join us as we seine. All ages welcome! Water shoes (no flip-flops) are required to pull in the seine.

FISH TANK FEEDING FRENZY (2:00 pm – 2:30 pm) Fish and other aquatic animals that are caught on our seining tour are used to stock the fish tanks... Learn about the fascinating food web that makes Barnegat Bay an extremely valuable estuary. All ages welcome!

Island Beach also offers several pre-registered tours and programs for visitors. From birding to kayaking and surf fishing - there are many ways to explore this beautiful barrier island.

Trails - 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.

Recreation Area - 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.

Barnegat Bay - 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.

Fishing - 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

Take Route 37 east to Route 35 south to park entrance.

The temperatures in New Jersey vary slightly, with the southern area being the warmest. Winter weather can start by October and is in full force by November, temperatures average 20 to 40 degrees. Spring can begin in mid March and brings temperatures of 50 degrees F, by April temperatures can reach 65 degrees F. Summer weather can extend from late May to mid September, and temperatures often reach 95 degrees during this season with nighttime lows near 65 degrees. Fall weather has temperatures between 65 and 45 degrees F. Precipitation levels in New Jersey are highest from March through August.

P.O. Box 37
Seaside Park, NJ 08752

Phone: 732-793-0506

Email: Michele.buckley@dep.state.nj.us
  • Island Beach State Park Travel Q&A