If you are planning a trip to the Garden State do yourself a favor and stop by the fascinating Long Beach Island area. Long Beach Island is one of New Jersey’s most interesting destinations, and this unique area has been welcoming visitors for centuries. The history of Long Beach Island stretches far into the past, to a time when whalers trolled the high seas in search of their elusive prey. Visiting Long Beach Island is a great way to relive those bygone days and explore a world that our ancestors once knew.
As one would expect Long Beach Island is at home with the sea. This barrier island, located along New Jersey’s central coast, stretches some 18 miles, and it sits some 4 to 6 miles away from the mainland. This unique location makes Long Beach Island an integral part of the famous east coast inter coastal waterway. The commerce of the area is directly related to the sea, and its 18 mil es of white sandy beaches welcome visitors from around the country and around the world.
The history of the area stretches all the way back to 1614, when Captain Cornelius Jacobson May first explored the coast of New Jersey. As Captain May reached the northern end of what is now known as Long Beach Island he was struck by the rough waters that marked the entrance to the bay. The Captain was prescient in his view of the island, and those strong tides were responsible for many shipwrecks throughout the years. To fight this scourge a lighthouse was erected at the northern end of Long Beach Island, with many other life saving beacons set up along the rest of the island’s shore. This lighthouse is still standing today, and it is a favorite destination for locals and visitors alike.
The history of what we know today as Long Beach Island has always been closely associated with the surrounding sea, and the island was once a center of the whaling and fishing industries Its unique location made it easy for those early whalers and fishermen to access both the open ocean and the inland fish markets, making it a commercial center for fishermen from all over the area.
After the whalers had left the area was to become a playground for the rich and famous. During this time the area became a favorite for hunters and fishermen, with a number of private hunting and fishing clubs designed to help those well heeled gentlemen take advantage of the abundant wildlife that still calls the area home. Back then the only way to reach Long Beach Island was by boat, but many residents of Philadelphia and New York City still made the long trek to enjoy the island’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Those intrepid travelers would take the train to Tom’s River or Edge Cove and then catch a ferry to Long Beach Island. The good news for visitors was that a causeway for automobile traffic was by then available, making it easier than ever for both visitors and residents to get around. In fact this causeway is still the only way to get to Long Beach Island without a boat.
Today Long Beach Island is home to more than twenty distinct communities, including independent boroughs and townships. But no matter where they live the residents of Long Beach Island can enjoy cool ocean breezes, stunning sunsets and of course plenty of natural beauty.
[photo courtesy of fPat]