In New Jersey north of Long Branch, Monmouth Beach, and Sea Bright and across the bay from Highlands is Sandy Hook State Park. It is one of three legs of the Gateway National Recreation Area of New York and New Jersey. That’s a mouthful for one of the most scenic and beautiful beach parks at the northern part of what is considered the Jersey Shore.
Here are the many things you can do at Sandy Hook:
Five ocean beaches are staffed daily by lifeguards from 10am to 6pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day. As always, follow safe swimming practices, swim only in designated areas, and enjoy the clean, clear ocean waters.
The seven-mile stretch of the Multi-Use Pathway (MUP) begins at the park entrance and loops around the Fort Hancock area of the park. Although bicyclists are not the only ones on the MUP (walkers and in-line skaters also share the path), there is plenty of room for everyone, even on a busy summer weekend. (Bike rentals are now available near the Sandy Hook Lighthouse.)
Surf casting and fishing is allowed on all the beaches except during the time the lifeguards are on duty. After Labor Day, restrictions are lifted. A annual nighttime fishing pass can be purchased at the Visitors’ Center during the day and 24 hours/day from the Ranger Station. There is a new law on the books that require saltwater fishermen to register on the National Saltwater Angler Registry, which is a program to get improved data to protect recreational fishing sustainability.
The Horseshoe Cove salt marsh, North Pond, Plum Island, the Spermaceti Cove boardwalk, and the fields at Fort Hancock are where the birds and birders flock. You can find great information on the NJ Audubon’s website.
Area M near Nine Gun battery and the Visitors’ Center are where you will find the starting points for the Sandy Hook hiking trails. Beach hiking is permitted but be aware that during the spring and summer, some shorebird nesting areas are protected and a detour may ensue.
Beach area C and Horseshoe Cove have launch spots for car-top non-motorized boats. C area is also the best place for kite-boarding, windsurfing and kayaking around the bay. Recreational boaters can anchor off of Horseshoe Cove, but are not allowed to land on the beach.
In the summers, there are free concerts on the beach, nature programs, and places to picnic and view the New York harbor. Sandy Hook State Park has thousands of visitors every year, taking advantage of the multitude of activity choices to do here. People come from all over to enjoy this beautiful and historic place.
Next time- the history of Sandy Hook.