Belmar: 150th Celebration. Covid Memorial Unveiled. Fish on Jetty. Whale Watching. Seafood Festival
Energy abounds in Belmar. From the beach to the marina, from Shark River south to Lake Como at the Spring Lake border, there's a party atmosphere. People eat and drink all hours at restaurants and nightclubs -- including the legendary Shore bar D'Jais -- along Ocean Avenue, Main Street, the Shark River Inlet and the marina. If the temperature even approaches 70 degrees, people head to the wide sandy beach. On the other side of town, fishermen, boaters and whale watching enthusiasts crowd the piers at one of the largest marinas on the Shore.
Heading south from Sandy Hook, the Shark River is the first inlet and the first opportunity for boaters to access the ocean. To keep the crowds and cars moving smoothly on Ocean Avenue between
Avon and Belmar, there's a high-flying drawbridge. Beyond the drawbridge, two long jetties reach out into the ocean to help protect the beachfront that has only limited protections from small artificial dunes. Buoyed by a strong current and plentiful fish, the jetty on the Belmar side is always filled with fishermen.
Jersey Shore Whale Watching Tour
Leaving each afternoon in August and most of September is the Jersey Shore Watching Tour aboard the Royal Miss Belmar docked at the Belmar Marina. You are guaranteed to see a humpback whale or you get your next trip free.
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The boat trip is about three hours as they traverse the shore from Pt. Pleasant Beach to Sandy Hook looking for humpback whales and dolphins who are feeding on the abundant bunker in the water. Because the water is getting warm this time of the year, the bunker move closer to the shore and the whales follow.
First permanent COVID memorial
Until earlier in 2021, Belmar's Third Avenue Beach had been the site of a COVID memorial bearing the names of people who died due to the virus. Worried about vandalism, the town asked the memorial's founder Rima Samman to remove the rocks. And she found them a new home at Allaire Community Farm, about four miles west of the beach. This is the first permanent COVID memorial in the country with over 3,500 names of people arranged in 11 yellow-painted shell hearts. Allaire Community Farm is non-profit that rescues animals, who in turn interact with special needs individuals, teens with mental health issues, veterans with PTSD and local families battling cancer. The memorial garden should be finished and open this month
MTV Jersey Shore crowd
MTV’s reality shows Jersey Shore and Jersey Shore: Family Vacation spotlighted eight housemates in Seaside Heights who spent their days shining up their tans, working out at the gym and coordinating their wardrobe for one reason—to spend a raucous night at the clubs. “Guidos” and “guidettes” (as the housemates referred to themselves) can often be found at D'Jais where DJs rule, live bands blast and dance floors sizzle with a party-hard, twenty-something crowd and with several Jersey Shore cast members who still live on or near the Jersey Shore.
NJ Seafood Festival and 150th Anniversary of the Town.
The New Jersey Seafood Festival returns at Pyanoe Plaza from Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22. Among the restaurants taking part are: Coney Waffle, Brandl, Point Lobster Bar & Grill, Hoagitos and Simply Southern. Beyond the seafood, the festival features live music, 60 local craft vendors and a drink tent hosted by 10th Ave. Burrito Co. Hours are 4-8pm Friday, 11am-8pm Saturday, and 11am-6pm Sunday.
Belmar offers Friday Night Concerts at Pyanoe Plaza starting May 27.
And on Wednesday, August 31, Belmar celebrates its Sesquicentennial with a Founders Day parade along Main Street to 10th Avenue and the dedication of a commemorative clock. Around the clock with be walkway with 150th anniversary 'bricks' that can be purchased here. Then, on September 15, there will be a 150th Birthday Celebration at Silver Lake Park and the Taylor Pavilion.
Fishing pier that doesn't care about its peers
The only true fishing pier along the coastline of the northern Jersey Shore is off limits to the general public. Even though the pier has been around for more than 100 years, it's rare to see anyone fishing on it. The private Belmar Fishing Club owns the pier. The club's members have shifted focus to the clubhouse at the foot of pier. For many years, the club maintained a long waiting list, but in the past decade dispensed of the list entirely. No waiting list. No new members. Period.
Shark River Life-Saving Station
Before there was the United States Coast Guard (and even the town of Belmar), there was the United States Life-Saving Service. In 1848, NJ Congressman William Newell advocated for a law to establish eight unmanned lifesaving stations from Sandy Hook to Long Beach Island to provide "surf boat, rockets, carronades and other necessary apparatus for the better preservation of life and property from shipwreck". A life saving station (really a boat house) would have been built on the Shark River, presumably on the Avon-By-The-Sea side.
By 1878, the volunteer life-saving role was assumed by a new federal agency, the Life-Saving Service, which refurbished, replaced or built 40-plus stations from Sandy Hook to Cape May including a new Shark River station in 187, moved close to the mouth of the river in then rebuilt in 1886-87. Eventually, the U.S. Coast Guard was created and subsumed the service. In the 1938, the USCG built a "combination station dwelling, boathouse, launchway and flag tower," and spent additional money for boats and equipment, bulkheading, dredging and fill. The U.S. Coast Guard station still has offices on the very busy Shark River.
From 1871 through 1914, the Service aided 28,121 vessels, and rescued or aided 178,741 persons. It's unofficial motto: “Remember, you have to go out, but nothing says you have to come back.”
Where Belmar got its name
Like Avon, Bradley Beach and Allenhurst, the city of Belmar owes its birth to the success of nearby Ocean Grove and Asbury Park, when business people discovered the potential for developing summer homes, boarding houses and hotels at the Jersey Shore. Originally known as Pleasant Beach Association, then Ocean Beach Association, the town's name changed in 1890 when the developer hit upon the name Belmar (from the French meaning beautiful sea). The name stuck.
Tips for Visiting Belmar
What's New: New Jersey Seafood Festival is back after two year absence, May 20-22 at Pyanoe Plaza. Daily beach badges increase from $9 to $10 for most people.
Road Access & Parking: The main entry to Belmar is along Route 71/River Road or Main Street. There is metered parking on the East Side of Ocean Avenue, the Silver Lake area, North Boulevard from Ocean Avenue to B Street and the east side of Marina Grille and the island west of the 10th Avenue and Highway 35 marina entrance. Fees are required in the beach area through October 1 and required year-round at the marina.
Amenities: There are restrooms along the promenade.
Beaches: Beach badges are required Memorial Day Weekend until Labor Day. Daily beach badges for people 14 and older are $10 and can be purchased at the beach by texting "Badges" to 833-956-2440 or visiting www.BelmarBeachBadges.com Seasonal beach badges are $70 for people 14 and older, $30 for people aged 65 and over.
Follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab as he recounts his 2021 walk of every beach along the 139 miles of the Jersey Shore coastline from Sandy Hook to Cape May. Read all updated stories at www.JerseyShoreWalk.com.