Being a New Yorker, I’m always in search of the perfect beach. What that entails to me is: clean sand and water, green and blue clear water, and scenery to die for. Many beaches fit that category, but not when you’re looking for one on a weekend, living in NY, and not involving crazy traffic.
It’s hard to find all the elements I mentioned in NY, since ya know, we’re so up north and polluted. I have to take measures and find nearby beaches that can still take my breath away in the summer months when I’m not going international.
The Jersey Shore is one of the best spots I have found yet. Generally, it’s a strip of 130 miles of shoreline, so there’s not only one beach to choose from. The further south you drive, the prettier it gets!
My pick of beaches far, but not too far, is Ortley Beach. Before I get to the actual beach part, let’s talk about the neighborhood. It is located conveniently next to Seaside Heights ( a 5 minute drive, a 20 minute walk), but it has not had its’ reputation destroyed. The beach town has been, and still is, very family oriented. There is a mini boardwalk but no shops, rides or bars on it. There are many dunes and beach houses for rent. There’s shops, farmers markets, and the bay to play in for boating, canoeing, kayaking, jet skiiing, and paddle-boarding.
Hurricane Sandy took a hit on this beach neighborhood and tons of rebuilding is taking places. Houses are going higher than they gave ever gone before. Some are said to be “pushing it too high”, but you never know. Better to be prepared is my thought.
Some roads are still closed and under maintenance, which in a way, brought rise to even more bike riding opportunities. Taking bikes out was common before, but now it’s sometimes necessary to get around faster or through sandy blocks.
Ortley beach does have a cover fee to actually get onto the beach- $4 on weekdays and $5 on weekends for anyone over 12 years old and under 65 years. This is in effect from mid-June to Labor Day. Buying badges is easy, there are stations by the entrances to the beach. If someone is planning to go often, then it’s $40 for the entire summer. Not bad pricing!
For the actual beach part now – it has been getting a lot cleaner! The waters exhibit more green, emerald like colors and you can see 1 feet down in the water. That’s a lot for us northerners here. The sand is soft and no trash! People know to take their garbage with them or throw it out once they leave. You look east and west, and you see the Jersey Shore continuing to go on and on. Waves are usually good here for jumping. Not too big, not too small. Occasionally, there is the rip current and lifeguards are on duty to help.
For a 1.5-2 hour ride from Manhattan, NY, Ortley Beach is worth the drive.
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