Environmental Attractions- The Natural Beauty of the New Jersey Shore
Images of the New Jersey shore will surely include amusement rides and towering casinos, but there is much more to the Garden State than meets the eye. Opportunities to observe nature and learn about the environment are abound, particularly in the southern shore region. From quiet unspoiled beaches to guided tours the Jersey shore has something for the environmentalist in all of us.
Brigantine is an island city located near Atlantic City New Jersey. It is small, approximately 9.8 square miles insize. Brigantine does not have a boardwalk, or traditional Jersey shore amusements. It is a quieter beach community with a focus on the preservation of the land and wildlife.
Brigantine has been used as a recreational playground as far back as the Lenape Indians in the early 1500s. It was settled by its firsts residents in the 1700s. Brigantine still remains a popular choice for tourists and locals looking for a more quiet and natural setting. While visiting Brigantine check out the lighthouse. Built in 1857, the Absecon lighthouse is the third tallest in the country with 228 steps to climb to reach the top. Admission is under $5 in cost and the lighthouse is open year round.
If you love animals check out one of the many whale watching tours that departs from the New Jersey shoreline. Generally, the tours are open for business between the months of March and December. Tours last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours in length. While on the boat visitors can see a variety of marine life including whales, sea turtles and dolphins along with sea birds. The Spirit of Cape May offers both day and dinner cruises for marine mammal watching, along with a tour of famous lighthouses.
The Salt Marsh Safari is another fun boat tour based out of Cape May. The tour explores the coastal salt marshes and goes over the history of marine wildlife in it. Visitors will see fish, shellfish, crustaceans, marine mammals, marine birds and a variety of plant life. Visitors will see some of the Tours run from April to November rain or shine.
Island Beach State Park
Island Beach State Park is a barrier island located off the coast of the southern shore. The park boasts over 3,000 acres of preserved land and 10 miles of nearly untouched dunes. Tourists will find a host of wildlife while visiting Island Beach State Park; including wading birds, peregrine falcons, osprey, shorebirds, water fowl and songbirds. Maritime forests, tidal marshes, freshwater wetlands, and more than 400 different plants also cover the island.
The park is open daily year round from sunrise to sunset. You can swim, fish, hike nature trails, bird watch, bike and even go horseback riding while you visit Island Beach State Park. The beach does not have a boardwalk, but it is equipped with lifeguards, bathhouses and beach access ramps. The park also has areas set aside for surfing, sailing and scuba diving. While there check out the Sedge Island Marine Conservation Zone. You can tour the 1,600 acres of preserved tidal marshes, creeks, ponds and open water via guided canoe or kayak tour.
The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail
The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail is a 300 mile stretch of roads that runs along the New Jersey shores and bays. The trail explores five different shore regions in the state. You follow the trail by driving the route mapped out for the trail you have chosen. Start at one of the visitors centers. there are two one in Cape May Region and the other in the Delsea Region. The stops along the planned trails are equipped with audio-visual orientation programs, information brochures, restrooms and restaurants.
The Cape May Region of the trail has a relaxation and inspiration theme, while the Delsea Region explores the maritime history of the state. There are other regions to explore that don’t yet have their own visitor center. This would include the Sandy Hook Region, Barnegat Bay Region and Absecon Region. Notable points of interest would include Fort Mott a post Civil War era military base and Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge which is 40,000 acres of coastal habitat for migratory birds.