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Long Beach Island is oft-referred to as LBI. Those familiar with "The Island" often fall in love on it ... and with it. This barrier island and summer vacation spot has attracted families over generations from the Mid-Atlantic states (and many from the Midwest as well) to enjoy its seasonal wonders. It's beauty is enjoyed and Shore Lovers' senses are delighted all year 'round, but in summertime, it transforms to a heavily-populated gem of New Jersey's tourism industry without the bustling boardwalks, bars and amusements ... just great beach, the best surf spots in New Jersey, fun boating, excellent fishing, and the best clean, safe summer fun and sun on guarded and groomed beaches. Approximately 9,000 "locals" live their lives year-'round on LBI, but between the 4th of July to Labor Day, the Island's population swells at least ten-fold with second-home owners, visitors, day-trippers, tourists, and renters of summer cottages. Many fond memories have been made, and friendships begun, on LBI, and people will return with their families from across the continent, and yes, even from across the pond to spend a week, two, or a month or even the whole summer at this "best beach" along the Atlantic. Development throughout the latter half of the Twentieth Century has packed the Island; there are now a very limited number of available building lots. The local infrastructure is are stressed, but adequate, and always updated. The resources of nature make tourism the Island's number one industry.
Long Beach Island is situated mid-state in on the world-famous New Jersey Shore, in Ocean County, easily accessible from the Delaware Valley, South Jersey and Philadelphia regions. The original developers in the Nineteenth Century were from Philadelphia. Post WW II, Central and North Jersey families, some even from New York and Connecticut suburbs, began coming to Long Beach Island after the Garden State Parkway was completed. The Island is aligned north-south. and the northern portion is generally low-density residential; whereas the southern portion possesses higher-density housing, ergo more "affordable" rentals, and considerable commercial development. Access to the Island is by the single bridge known as "The Causeway" (NJ-72) which connects the mainland community of Manahawkin to the Island at 9th Street in Ship Bottom (look for the iconic "original" Ron Jon's surf shop at the Central Avenue). The icon of the New Jersey Shore is the lighthouse located on the northern end of the Island ... in the ol' Squareheads' fishing and artists' vacation community of Barnegat Light, of course. Like any love affair, it yearns for attention, protection, dedication, investment, effort, and loyalty from those locals and visitors alike.
Long Beach Island is approximately 18 miles in length, from Barnegat Light at the northern end, and southward "down the Boulevard" (no boardwalk here). Three miles of parkland with great beach and fishing is located on the southern tip of the Island. Long Beach Island is about a half-mile wide at its widest point in Ship Bottom, and spans only about 500 feet at its narrowest point in Harvey Cedars. From the Causeway entrance at Ship Bottom northward, the Island includes the communities of Surf City, North Beach (Long Beach Township), Harvey Cedars, Loveladies, and, of course, Barnegat Light. From Ship Bottom southward, the island includes the communities in Long Beach Township including Brant Beach, Beach Haven Crest, Brighton Beach, Peahala, Beach Haven Park, Haven Beach, The Dunes, Beach Haven Terrace, Beach Haven Gardens, Spray Beach, North Beach Haven, and then, of course, "The Queen City" of autonomous, Victorian-historic Beach Haven. Traveling further south from Beach Haven, it's into the residential-only Smith Tract, Holgate and Beach Haven Heights. Looking south from this end of the Island, one can see the skyline of Atlantic City, but the casino mecca casts its light pollution at night to make star-gazing a challenge. Note that both North Beach and Loveladies of the northern end of LBI are are also a part of Long Beach Township. LBI's communities are generally affluent and contain many vacation homes for wealthy residents. Values of property have been appreciating at extraordinary rates since the 1950's, sometimes accelerating to an unrealistic apex in boom times, but rarely retreating over the decades which have brought the inevitable the troughs in the real-estate market. In the 1970's, an article in a magazine humourously opined that the "haves turn right and the have mores turn left."
It is perceived for those who enjoy more "exclusive" summer vacation digs on larger lots, that the north side of Long Beach Island is preferable. Therefore, property values, taxes and rental fees on the north end have been inflated accordingly. The locals encourage tasteful architecture as the older Cape-Cod style gives way to the modern facades of modern times, with a nod to tradition. Construction trades are busy with tear-downs and re-builds, and remodeling to keep up with the harsh elements of the salt air and seas. Occasional storms over the history of the Island have been nature's way of facilitating redevelopment in all parts of the Island. Most recently, the Great March Storm of 1962 lives in the memories of older locals. Only on Saturdays and Sundays in the winter will there never be traffic, horn honking or any of the bustle and bad manner some folks bring with them. In peak summer times, it can be dangerous for kids crossing the Boulevard outside of the clearly signed crosswalks as they scurry across the main artery, and speed limits are lowered and traffic patrols are out in force in June, July and August. If teens and young adults meet each other and develop quick social networks around the various life guard stations, they often make plans to cruise the Island in their parent-provided wheels after beach hours. That's one reason why Beach Haven at the south end of the Island needs its controversial late-night curfew for those under 18 who loiter for hook-ups. There are public tennis courts in tony Harvey Cedars, and some of the newer rental houses ostentatiously offer pools, which is considered by most as absolutely ludicrous and wasteful of the Island's water, considering the beaches of the the bay and ocean within a few hundred feet of any home. Sailing and boating is superb, and opportunities for the water-sport fad of the season are always available. There are sunset cruises, miniature golf, summer-stock theater, and even a tasteful amusement park on the Island. Family-oriented is the way of Long Beach Island. This place is not a popular destination for lounge lizards and bar hoppers. It's for dune-hoppers and kids of all ages to enjoy wholesome seasonal activities. there is a strong year-round community dedicated to the safety and comfort of all. Policing is protective, polite, and fair. The Volunteer Fire Departments and First Aid Squads (and Lifeguards, too) are top-notch, trained and serve the big summer population well. For dining and adult nightlife, the southern end of the island (and Surf City and Harvey Cedars, and Barnegat Light on the North end) have options ranging from out-of-place faux-retro Manhattan to restaurants which tempt and tap the rich with parking lots full of luxury cars and SUV's ... and average food. Vacationing families and year-'round residents alike know where to go for food and entertainment from many summers of experience. City attitudes by seasonal patrons and servers are not rewarded. Locals and visitors enjoy the casual Down the Shore atmosphere of Long Beach island. You'll find dozens of inexpensive seafood restaurants that are casual and offer a real Long Beach Island flavor.
"Six Miles At Sea" ? Well, not quite, but it seem that your mind is six thousand miles away, at ease, when on Long Beach Island.