Shaped by storm and tides, the park is a narrow barrier island that sits 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.
More than 3,000 acres of coastal dunes that remain almost untouched since Henry Hudson first described New Jersey's coast from the ship, the Half Moon, in 1609. The 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.
The state's largest osprey colony, as well as peregrine falcons, wading birds, shorebirds, waterfowl and migrating songbirds are found here. The park is nationally known as a unique resource with more than 400 plants identified, including the largest expanses of beach heather in New Jersey. It also features two Coast Guard stations from 1901 and 1938.
Facilities and activities include summer programs, trails, recreation area, Barnegat Bay access, Island Beach Northern Natural Area (659 acres) and Southern Natural Area (1,237 acres). There's also fishing, waterfowl hunting (in sedge islands only), canoeing, ocean swimming, shower facilities and wheelchair access. Visitors enjoy ocean picnicking, sailboarding and surfing, scuba diving and interpretive programs. The park also features the Sedge Island Marine Conservation Zone and the Emily DeCamp Interpretive Center.
Swimming is permitted in designated areas from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend while lifeguards are on duty. The beach complex contains changing area, restrooms, first-aid station and concession with refreshments and beach supplies.
Fee: Entrance fees are charged per vehicle from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.