If you can't decide between the beach and the woods, a New Jersey beach camping trip can give you the best of both worlds. Instead of staying in an oceanfront hotel, you can stay at a campsite that is minutes away, yet gives you a completely different kind of vacation.
You'll be hard pressed to find an opportunity to camp directly on the beach in New Jersey unless you attend an event such as Beach Jam, where boy scouts gather on Wildwood Beach to camp and work on their oceanography merit badges. All New Jersey coastal cities have strict regulations that do not allow people on the beach after a certain time of night (hours vary by city).
Finding New Jersey Beach Camping
Once you step a short distance away from the beach, there are literally dozens of campsites to stay at. The fact that the New Jersey coastline is 127 miles long helps, not to mention the presence of offshore islands. Some good places to search for a campsite near your beach of choice are:
If you're not sure what beach you would like to visit, check out the following campgrounds and the beaches they are close to. They are some of the highest rated in the state:
- Big Timber Lake Camping Resort - Located near Avalon Beach, this campground has tent sites, trailer sites and rentable cabins, plus lots of daily activities for families.
- Atlantic City North Family Campground - This campground right outside Atlantic City is one of the few that is open year round. It has a pool, game room, mini golf course and laundromat.
- Adventure Bound Camping Resort - This is the closest you can get to actually camping on Wildwood Beach in the Cape May area. This upscale campground even has wireless Internet.
Most beach area campgrounds cater to families who are not the most hardcore of campers, which is why they feature so many amenities. Many are only open for part of the year, usually the warmer months of April through October. Because during prime beach season even campgrounds can get crowded, it's very important that you call ahead and make a reservation if you plan to camp anytime between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Packing for Beach Camping
When preparing for your New Jersey beach camping trip, you should pack the usual supplies, such as your tent, sleeping bag and picnic dishes. However, there are also some extras you should bring to make sure your trip is enjoyable:
- Bug spray - This is a good thing to have on any trip, but especially when you are near the water. Where there is water there tends to be a large concentration of mosquitoes.
- Sunblock - Campgrounds near beaches may not have as much tree cover as traditional wooded campgrounds, which can reduce the amount of shade.
- Beach gear - What's the point of camping near the beach if you're not going to the ocean? Bring the swimsuit, towel and sandals.
- Clothesline - You'll want somewhere to hang those wet swimsuits and towels so that they don't stink up your tent. Another option is a portable drying rack, or in a pinch, the roof of the car.
While camping near the beaches in New Jersey is an inexpensive way to enjoy the shore, the campsites are not the most beautiful or rustic and the hiking isn't as good as in other areas of the state. If you're looking to take a beach trip that just happens to include camping, these campsites are perfect for you. However, if your primary goal is camping, pass the beach and continue north to the Palisades instead.