Island Beach State Park just north of Long Beach Island, The Jersey Shore
Shaped by storm and tides, Island Beach State Park is a narrow barrier island stretching for 10 miles between the restless Atlantic Ocean and the historic Barnegat Bay. Island Beach is one of New Jersey's last significant remnants of a barrier island ecosystem that once existed along much of the coast and is also one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the north Atlantic coast. Over 3,000 acres and 10 miles of coastal dunes remain almost untouched since Henry Hudson first described The Jersey Shore coast in 1609.
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 colonies, as well as peregrine falcons, wading birds, shorebirds, waterfowl and migrating songbirds are found here. The State Park, located just north of Barnegat Light, Long Beach Island, is nationally known as a unique resource with over 400 plants identified, including the largest expanses of beach heather in New Jersey.
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 less than one mile.
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 this part of The Jersey Shore a unique place to explore.
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.
So, whether you're fishing, swimming, picnicking, bicycling, horseback riding, sail boarding or surfing, you'll find a Island Beach State Park the perfect place to spend your day on The Jersey Shore.
Karl Hess, Barnegat
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