Beach Haven: Most Fun on LBI, Surflight Theatre, Maritime Museum, Shopping.

Fantasy island Amusement Park in Beach Haven. All photos by R.C. Staab

Whether people are visiting Long Beach Island for a day, a week or a month, they inevitably end up in Beach Haven, the busiest and most touristy section of the island. There's the low-key Fantasy Island Amusement Park, Bay Village and Schooner's Wharf shopping, the Surfside Theatre and Show Place Ice Cream Parlour and the funky New Jersey Maritime Museum

(From the vantage point of the beachfront or boardwalk, this is a breezy overview of what you see, where to park and beach access, plus a bit or history and the latest happenings. See map below.)

Free to visit the Maritime Museum, dive deep to explore.

The museum is based on Deb Whitcraft’s collection of maritime artifacts and files, particularly related to shipwrecks. Divers and volunteers have added to a crazy quilt of a collection that includes everything from an exhibit on women’s surf-fishing clubs to prehistoric fossils recovered from the intercontinental shelf off the Jersey coast, and from displays about major hurricanes and storms to a postcard collection of Shore towns.

It's open daily June through August and then Friday-Sunday from September to May

Surflight Theatre boldly moves ahead

Last year while most theaters were dark, Surflight Theatre literally moved outside the box of its indoor space to create an outdoor venue in a large tent. The venue harks back to the theater's origins in a tent 71 years ago as a summer stock theater in vacation destination Beach Haven, half way between NYC and Philadelphia.

Surflight is staging a season of full-cast musicals in the tent starting with "Annie", followed by "A Chorus Line", "Xanadu" and "Sh-Boom, Life Could Be a Dream." Their fall season continues with

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"I Love You, You're Perfect Now Change," "Almost Maine," Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story" and "Ebenezer". Tickets are $41 for adults, $31 for children 12 and under.

Using the talents of the Surflight Theatre, the Show Place Ice Cream Parlour turns the tables on you as the waiters sing while you get your dessert. The ice cream parlor offers crazy ice cream concoctions such as A Chorus Line Split or the mountainous Anything Goes, which serves ten people and costs about $100. The dessert-only emporium has five shows on the hour starting at 6:00 p.m. The Parlour is open weekends starting on Memorial Day, then every day from mid-June to Labor Day.

Shopping in Bay Village and Schooner's Village

While the inspiration for Bay Village and Schooner's Village may be an old-time fisherman’s village, almost nothing that is sold today at Bay Village would have been on the shopping list of a 19th century mariner unless, of course, he or she needed a T-shirt, fashionable pair of sunglasses, or waterproof watch. In addition to shopping, this is where most Long Beach Island vacationers come when parents want to eat a regular meal and kids want to munch and go. There are chowder and pizza shops, an upscale coffee bar, a brewery, and, for dessert, candy, ice cream, and baked goods stores.

Don't let anyone tell you LBI is18 miles long

The conventional wisdom is that LBI is 18 miles long. But apparently this notion was begun by the road crews who paved the first road from Old Barney to Holgate to the south. As measured by the concrete road from Old Barney parking lot to Holgate, LBI is 18 miles.

In Barnegat Light, using a simple online pedometer tool, you can see that walking the beach from the jetty to 30th Street along the beach is considerably longer than driving from the northern most point to 30th Street. It's already more than 18 miles long, and that's not accounting for the three miles of the coastline at the southern tip along the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge.

Let's set the record straight and let people know LBI is 21 miles!

The majority of the beach is wide and shaped like a cove.

Where Beach Haven got its name

In 1871,Tuckerton businessman Archelaus Pharo completes his branch railroad to Philadelphia. For $243, Pharo buys 666 acres of Long Beach Island land to build a resort. In 1874, Pharo’s daughter chooses the name, ‘Beach Haven” for the area. Archelaus builds starts constructing cottages and hotels are built. The only way to reach the island is to sail across the bay until 1886 when trains cross Barnegat Bay to Ship Bottom with tracks running south from Ship Bottom to Beach Haven.

Beach is perilously close to dunes at northern end.

Tips for Visiting Beach Haven

What's New: Attractions have all re-opened

Access and Parking: Heading south on Long Beach Boulevard, you pass through Beach Haven Crest, Beach Haven Park, Haven Beach, Beach Haven Terrace, Beach Haven Gardens and North Beach Haven. None of those communities is part of the Borough of Beach Haven. Coming from the north, you cross into Beach Haven at 12th Street.

Amenities: There are no restrooms available at the beach.

Beaches: Beach badges are required daily from June 26 to Labor Day for people 13 to 64 years old except for Wednesdays when access to the beach is FREE for all! Full season badges are $40 for this age range. People who are 65 years or older pay $10 for a senior lifetime badge. Weekly badges are $20. Daily badges are $10 and are available in person at the beach or via the Viply app. There is no cost for people 11 years of age and under.

This spring, summer and fall, follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab as he walks the entire 139 miles of the Jersey Shore coastline from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park, the length of Long Beach Island from Old Barney to the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, from Brigantine to Cape May.

Next stop: Holgate and the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge at the southern tip of Long Beach Island at Jersey Shore Walk Mile post 60. See profiles of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, Island Beach State Park and every beach and town on the northern part of the Jersey Shore at

Summer is here. So get out and explore the Jersey Shore

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Get the scoop on seafood, salt water taffy and ice cream joints. Plus discover quiet beaches, historic sites and outdoor adventures with 100 Things to Do at the Jersey Shore Before You Die.