New Jersey is always a popular beach destination for vacationers in the Tri-state area. Thanks to its nearly 130-mile coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, the ‘Jersey Shore’ is well-deserving of its widespread recognition!
Although it’s the fifth smallest state in the US, New Jersey still tops more than 110-million visitors, nearly 50-million arriving on the shore. So, while planning your Jersey Shore vacation, don’t forget to include your pet in your travel plans. New Jersey has several pet-friendly beaches that happily host their furry four-legged visitors.
And remember, whenever your dog is participating in a water activity, be sure to keep them safe with a dog life jacket or other flotation device.
8th Avenue Dog Beach
Dogs resort to their natural-born behavior when visiting the 8th Avenue Dog Beach because you’re sure to run into tons of other dogs that make your pet feel right at home. Located in Asbury Park, this is one of the best off-leash dog beaches to experience during the off-season.
During the busy beach season from May 15th to September 30th, you’ll only find dogs on the beach before 8:30 AM and after 6 PM. However, dog owners flock in packs to the sandy shores other times of the year for some off-leash fun.
Appropriately named, this beach extends for a block on the beach’s 8th Avenue section. Your dog will mix and mingle with the other pups, but try to keep watch on them as they splash around in the surf and roll around in the sand. Meanwhile, you can join the other owners chasing their own dogs with their eyes before it’s time to pull out the doggy toys. Toss around the frisbee, play a game of fetch, or simply go for a walk along the scenic shoreline.
Address: Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Beach Haven Doggy Bay
The cheerful screams and chatter coming from the families on the shores of Beach Haven during the peak beach season from May 15th to September 15th quickly turn into playful dogs barking in the off-season. That’s because the stunning 18-mile shoreline on New Jersey’s Long Beach Island evolves into the Beach Haven Doggy Bay on its southern end.
Beach Haven is known for its maritime heritage, like the NJ Maritime Museum and Schooner’s Wharf. However, it’s become a very pet-friendly place to visit in New Jersey. While you wait for the dog beach season to approach, the island has tons of dog parks to explore.
A six-foot leash is plenty long to give your dog some freedom as they enjoy the beach that opens up to them after the busy beach crowds evaporate. If you’re just visitors, a daily or week-long beach pass is more than enough time to wear your dog out on vacation. However, those planning to visit more frequently can enjoy a year-long pass that will give them dog beach fun for the entire season.
Address: Beach Haven Doggy Bay, Taylor Ave, Beach Haven, NJ 08008
Stone Harbor Beach
As if your phone needs any more photos of your pet, it’s a rite of passage to snap a photo of your dog in front of the iconic Stone Harbor boat to bring home as a souvenir. But your dog will likely be anxious to end the impromptu photoshoot and take advantage of the time it has on one of New Jersey’s favorite beaches.
It’s time to show your dog what an authentic beach town is like, and you don’t have to travel far. Stone Harbor sits right on the beach with tons of shops, galleries, and even pet-friendly accommodations. But its pet-friendly beach will be the highlight of the trip, even if you’re visiting during the summer.
Stone Harbor Beach is a three-mile coastline that stretches until Stone Harbor Point. During the peak beach season, dogs are permitted from sunrise to 9 AM and 6 PM until sunset, when they have much more room for running around. As long as you keep them on a leash, pets are welcome to enjoy the soft sands and gentle waters of the bay.
Address: 2 94th St, Stone Harbor, NJ 08247
Wildwood Dog Park & Beach
Whether your dog enjoys the water or simply wants to play around in the sand, Wildwood Dog Park and Beach has something for everyone! Located from Glenwood Avenue to Maple Avenue, you’ll find a large dog park whose sand fields extend outside the fence to the Atlantic Ocean.
Wildwood Dog Park and Beach is ushering in a new era for dogs as it finishes renovations in 2022. It’s redesigning the beachfront dog park to make it more pet-friendly for all dogs with new additions and more human-friendly with shaded areas when watching their pets. Dogs must be on a leash when enjoying beach activities like swimming or playing fetch. However, the dog park permits them to be off-leash.
Your dog will wag its tail in excitement upon arriving at the Wildwood dog park and beach since you’ll be greeted by an oversized fire hydrant. This iconic landmark for the beach is set right next to the fenced-in dog park that caters to large dogs and small breeds. With as much fun as dogs can have at this beach, the two-dog limit per person will ensure it’s not over-run by overjoyed canines.
Address: 3000 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ 08260
The soft sands at Sandy Hook Beach remain in pristine condition thanks to the Sandy Hook/Gateway National Park. So, whether they want to roll around in it or jog across the large beach for a refreshing dip in the water, this beach is one place where they’re not restricted for fun.
Sandy Hook is a unique stretch of sandy landscape resting between the Atlantic Ocean and Lower New York Bay. Its shoreline is 6-miles long on either side, giving you two options of where you want to spend the beach day with your pet.
If they’ve got their doggy eyes set for the oceanside beach, they’ll have to wait until the off-season from September 15th to March 15th to explore its shores. However, their paws are always welcome to trot the shores just as nice on the bayside all year long.
It took expert skills for boaters to navigate thru Sandy Hook, but dogs will have no trouble finding fun on its beaches. The warm waters are calm and always welcoming for a refreshing swim, and the beaches are plenty large with lots of sand for running by your side. Just keep in mind that leashes are always required for dogs visiting Sandy Hook on either shore.
Address: 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ
Barnegat Light Beach
Named for its iconic lighthouse, Barnegat Light Beach gives beachgoers postcard-worthy views that even your pet can enjoy with you. The beach’s off-season between October 1st and April 15th is a time when you’ll start to see four-legged paw prints dotting the sand alongside the footsteps as it opens for pets to enjoy the beach.
The split-colored Barnegat Lighthouse, nicknamed ‘Old Barney,’ towers 163-ft above the sunbaked sand. It’s the largest beach on Long Beach Island as it extends for miles along the Atlantic coastline. So, whether your pet is the type to enjoy leisure or relaxation, it’s the ideal place to enjoy them both.
Everyone must have a daily or season beach pass to visit the beach, including one for each pet you’re bringing along with you. Snap on their leash and walk on the sand before going for a playful swim in the ocean. Be sure to maneuver around the other dogs lazily sunbathing on the beach with their owners. When you need a break from the beach, enjoy a beachfront picnic set near the foot of the lighthouse before letting your pet run off their meal in the Barnegat Light Dog Park.
Address: Harvey Cedars, NJ 08008
Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area
Some of the best beaches are those that take you away from society and let you enjoy nature as it was intended. And while you’ll find the serenity you’re seeking at Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area, you’ll be glad to know that dogs are permitted to accompany you!
Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area is part of the Manasquan Inlet that preserves 55-acres of landscape as untouched nature. You’ll see one of the last remaining areas of natural beauty in New Jersey, with its sandy shores providing an excellent place for dogs to explore.
The great thing about visiting Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area is that never crowded. You and your dog will feel like the beach is to yourself when visiting during the dog-friendly hours before 10 AM and after 4 PM. The tan sand will be cleared from daytime beachgoers, however, it’s still mandatory that your pet stays on their leash.
Your dog will bark to welcome fishing boats arriving in the Manasquan Inlet after a day of fishing while you take a walk along the shoreline. Also, be sure to hang around for the beautiful sunsets on the beach with your pet.
Address: 383 3rd Ave, Manasquan, NJ 08736
Longport Dog Beach
The sloping Ocean Drive Bridge sets the boundary for Longport Dog Beach, one of the most popular pet-friendly beaches in New Jersey. It’s one of the rare places in the state where your dog can run around leash-free, and dog owners definitely keep the beach active with activity all year long.
You might hear locals referring to the shores as the Somers Point Dog Beach, but your GPS will point you to the same location. And the crowds of dogs exploring the beach together will confirm that you’ve arrived!
If your dog is social, it will have no trouble finding other dogs to run around with the moment it steps its paws on the sand. Try to keep up with your pet as it darts between the sandy coastline and the mellow waves rolling up on shore. Even if your dog isn’t as social, the beach gives plenty of room for pets and their owners to enjoy quality time together alone while lounging on their umbrella-shaded towels towards the back of the beach.
Address: Longport Dog Beach, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08244
From the waterfront scenery to the very sands you’ll walk across, arriving at Sunset Beach will instantly let you know why it’s ranked one of the best beaches in New Jersey. Likewise, your dog will bark in agreement after a fun day in the sun at this pet-friendly shore.
Dogs are allowed on Sunset Beach all year long. However, during the busy season from April 15th to September 1st, dogs can only enjoy the beach before 9 AM and after 6 PM. But it’s plenty of time to make the most of any day you come down to the sparkling shores.
Look down at your paws once you step onto the beach to see the shiny speckles of clear quartz mixed into the sand known as ‘Cape May diamonds.’ The fine gems and sand are soft to walk on as you take steps toward the refreshing waters of the Delaware Bay.
Look up during golden hour to admire the colorful sky signaling that it’s time for the beach’s namesake sunsets. Views of the sun dropping below the horizon against views of the famous Cape May Lighthouse will make dogs and their owners howl in agreement that it’s one of the top pet-friendly beaches.
Address: 502 Sunset Blvd, Cape May, NJ 08204
Brigantine North End Beach
Grab your beach passes and get ready to enjoy a day on the stunning shores of Brigantine Island. If you’re visiting with pets, head north to the North Brigantine Natural Area, where the coast’s natural beauty can be enjoyed with your pet.
There’s always exciting activity happening at Brigantine North End Beach. There’s a chance to see horseback riders, off-roading, and even dolphins spotted swimming offshore. But for a majority of the time, the 2.5-miles of golden sands are a relaxing area for pets and their owners to enjoy a beach day.
Step down from the seawall onto the shell-covered sand as you go for a walk or light jog, trying to keep up with your pet’s excitement. The beach slopes gently into the water to create a seamless boundary from going for a dip in the cool waters.
Keep in mind that dogs are only allowed on the northern end of the larger Brigantine Beach. However, it’s a place where they can enjoy all year long, even during the busy beach season in the summer.
Address: Brigantine, NJ 08203
Anant Shastri is a published author based in India. Being a writer for more than a decade, he has managed to publish his own poetry book entitled Darkness in the Fool, a collection of poetry focusing on learning to find joy even in the midst of solitude.