Island Beach State Park is a beautiful 10-mile long barrier island located in Ocean County, New Jersey, USA. It is one of the state’s largest parks and is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including many rare and endangered species.
The park is known for its pristine beaches, which are a popular destination for sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers. In addition to its beaches, Island Beach State Park also features a variety of other recreational opportunities, including hiking and biking trails, fishing, boating, and more.
One of the park’s most notable features is its rich wildlife, which includes a variety of bird species, marine mammals, and reptiles. Visitors to the park can enjoy bird watching, and there are several designated bird watching areas located throughout the park. The park is also home to several endangered species, such as the piping plover and the least tern, making it a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
In addition to its natural beauty and recreational opportunities, Island Beach State Park is also an important conservation area. The park’s unique ecosystem is protected by the state, and the park staff works tirelessly to preserve the area’s delicate balance of flora and fauna. Visitors are encouraged to help preserve the park’s natural resources by practicing Leave No Trace principles and by following park rules and guidelines.
Island Beach State Park is on the north side of Barnegat Inlet, with a great view of the Barnegat Lighthouse, where I make an annual pilgrimage every winter to see the beautiful Harlequin Ducks.
It was my intention when I went to Barnegat Light last January to also visit Island Beach State Park, but sadly the park was still closed from Hurricane Sandy. The devastation from the storm was still quite evident as we attempted to get to the park before we found out it was still closed.
I’m happy to say that the sand has been scraped from the road and returned to the beach, enormous amounts of debris have been removed, and Island Beach State Park has reopened to the public in time for 4th of July weekend this year.
There’s still a lot of work to do, but much work has already been done to restore the fragile dune ecosystem, thanks to the extraordinary effort of hundreds of volunteers.
We started our adventure at the Nature Center, which lies less than half a mile from the beach, and less than half a mile from Barnegat Bay, so we first followed the trails out through the scrubby maritime forest till we emerged on the restored dunes, and then out onto the beach.
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