When I first moved to the East Coast, I had somehow acquired a sweatshirt that said “LBI” on the front of it. I walked around for months fielding questions about whether or not I have been to LBI before, what I thought of it and where I had gotten the sweatshirt. I was painfully unaware of what LBI even stood for. All I knew that it was a good Christmastime sweatshirt. Red and White…what could be more festive? Observe my ignorance on Christmas morning:
|Me in my “Christmas sweatshirt” aka the LBI Sweatshirt|
Little did I know, LBI stands for Long Beach Island, one of the most beautiful stretches of beaches on the New Jersey shore.
Part II: Long Beach Island, New Jersey
Getting there: Much like getting to Seaside Heights, you follow 70 E from the Philadelphia area, and then veer to the right at the second traffic circle to continue on 72 E. Follow that and you will be delivered into the town of Manahawkin where you will take a beautiful scenic bridge over Manahawkin Bay onto Long Beach Island.
|Long Beach Island might be best discovered by bike|
Getting around: Once on the island, you will notice that it’s pretty easy to get around. If you just follow Long Beach Boulevard, you can get anywhere you need to go. I started by heading north (turning left) to check out the different beach options. To the north you will find small beach communities like Surf City, North Beach, Long Beach, Loveladies, and finally Barnegat Light, where the famous Barnegat Light House is located. Fun fact: This lighthouse is actually a movie star, having appeared in the film The Perfect Storm. Do you think it was starstruck around the insanely handsome George Clooney? If you head south, you will encounter Ship Bottom, Brant Beach, Spray Beach, Beach Haven and Holgate. Sounds like a lot, but from the northern most tip of the island to the southernmost (car access, anyway) it’s only 18 miles.
Atmosphere: This is the kind of place you want to stay a few days, if not a week. Imagine quiet beaches without the hustle and bustle of carnival rides, drunken guidos and chain-smoking teens. Driving down Long Beach Boulevard is reminiscent of the Florida Keys: with the turn of the head you can see the bay out one window and the Atlantic out the other. Talk about paradise! The “strip” is rather sleepy and quiet, but full of fun shops including the original Ron Jon Surf shop, many surf board rental places, a bevy of beachfront restaurants and bars, craft places…you name it. Step into one of the many beach access points and discover the calm, serene ocean just waiting for you to swim in and lay by. This beach doesn’t expect you to spend loads of hard-earned cash or tempt you with fried oreos. It just asks that you come, stay and relax.
|At the southernmost accessible tip of LBI|
Good times: After spending hours soaking in the Atlantic in Surf City, I packed up my belongings and headed south toward the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Three miles of unsolicited beaches and untamed nature lie at the end of the island, and you bet I was going to go and check it out. This part of the island seemed like a crossroad for ocean lovers, as people were fishing, sunbathing, swimming, or just gazing at the ocean from an overlook bench. The nature reserve was blocked off for the most part because of nesting season, but seabirds abounded and signs offering information about indigenous species were plentiful. It was a pleasant end to a perfect beach day.
Whatchu Say?! moments: Hardly any. I don’t believe there were any moments where I questioned why things were the way they were.
In a nutshell: Long Beach Island is for lovers. For beach lovers especially. Pristine sandy shores meet bluish green Atlantic waters. What else could you want? It is a must-visit destination. Now I can wear my LBI sweatshirt proudly!