When you think of an island paradise in the US, Hawaii probably comes to mind. While the Hawaiian Islands are undeniably amazing, a vacation to the tropical tourist destination will run you hundreds (or thousands) of dollars and nearly 12 hours of flight time. Still, an incredible island getaway is within reach. New Jersey is home to several small islands that really shine in the summer months. Here are a few that you should absolutely check out.
1. Long Beach Island
This narrow island is just about .5 miles wide but spans 18 miles in length. There are six distinct municipalities on the island, each with its own charm. Head to Beach Haven for family fun, or Harvey Cedars to relax. Attractions on the island include Barnegat Light, The Museum of NJ Maritime History, and Fantasy Island Amusement Park.
2. Ludlam Island
This Cape May County island is home to Sea Isle City and Strathmere. These family oriented communities lack the glitz and glamour many of our beach towns are associated with, but the island offers beautiful beaches, movies under the stars, and a free outdoor concert series all summer long. Webster Avenue Beach in Strathmere and 40th Street Beach in Sea Isle City were named among the cleanest beaches in America based on water quality.
3. Absecon Island
There are several communities located within the borders of this island, the most well-known of which is Atlantic City. The town brings in tourists from all over the world who enjoy the vibrant nightlife and free beaches. While on the island, be sure to check out Absecon Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey and third tallest in the United States.
4. Seven Mile Island
This seven mile long island spans about four blocks in width and is home to the charming towns of Stone Harbor and Avalon. Stone Harbor offers a quaint downtown area featuring several unique shops and galleries along with the free Stone Harbor Museum. Nature lovers will appreciate the Bird Sanctuary and Wetlands Institute.
5. Brigantine Island
Brigantine Island offers a small museum, wonderful wildlife area and the Brigantine Lighthouse. Located in the center of town, the lighthouse is non-operational and was built to draw in tourists.
6. Ocean City
This alcohol-free island is the ultimate destination for family fun. It was recently named the best beach in America and has so much to offer. From fun festivals to amazing amusement parks, you'll never be bored here.
7. The Wildwoods
This quirky island has a retro vibe reminiscent of the 1950s. Some have called it the "birthplace of rock n' roll" as Bill Haley & His Comets first performed their hit "Rock Around The Clock" here back in 1954. Visitors can enjoy free beaches, fun at Morey's Piers, multiple water parks and numerous nightlife options. I could easily write for days about all this island has to offer.
8. Cape Island
Many New Jerseysans don't realize that Cape May is actually an island. This is probably because it hasn't always been that way. Cape Island was created in 1942 when the Cape May Canal was built, separating the area from the rest of the state. From charming Victorian architecture to shopping on Washington Street Mall, entertainment opportunities are endless.
9. Ellis Island
This island changed the face of America and is rich with history that many of us can trace our roots to. Between 1892 and 1954, over 12 million immigrants made their way through the island of hope, bringing dreams for a brighter future. Many were met with despair while others went on to thrive.
Tourists come from all over the world to take in this living history museum, many of whom assume the island is in New York. In actuality, the Supreme Court granted New Jersey ownership of most of the island on May 26, 1998.
10. Raccoon Island/Halsey Island
There are several small islands located on Lake Hopatcong, the most well-known of which are Raccoon Island and Halsey Island. Raccoon Island is accessible by seasonal ferry service and offers around 50 homes dating back to the 1880s. You'll need to buy or rent a home to visit, there is no public land on the island.
Halsey Island hosts only 15 homes and can be accessed by private boat. An exquisite island getaway, guests can enjoy luxury and privacy - at a price. Rentals start around $500 per night but offer a truly unique experience. Sunbathe on private beaches, bring your own boat or rent one nearby, take in incredible waterfront and mountain views and bask in the beauty of solidarity just minutes from major cities.
We almost always associate islands with South Jersey, were you surprised to learn about North Jersey’s private islands on the lake? Did anything else on this list surprise you? What is your favorite New Jersey island?