Updated: May 18
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.
(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.)
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.
A quick history
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 designation changed in 1890 when the developer hit upon the name Belmar (from the French meaning beautiful sea). The name stuck.
The fishing pier with no peer
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
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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.
The MTV Jersey Shore crowd and more
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.
Last summer, D'Jais ran afoul of Governor Murphy for not adhering to social-distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. Partially to atone for its notorious behavior, the owners recently offered free VIP passes -- worth $100 -- to people who were inoculated at the club. The one-time promotion was so successful that D'Jais is considering doing it again.
Belmar Covid Memorial
Until recently, the Third Avenue Beach has been the site of a COVID-19 memorial with more than 2,800 rocks 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. She is currently seeking a permanent home for the memorial.
Tips for Visiting Belmar
What's New: Expanded whale watching schedule at the Belmar Marina with www.JerseyShoreWhaleWatching.com
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 16 and older are $9 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 16 and older, $30 for people aged 65 and over.
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 from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park, from Old Barney to Beach Haven, from Brigantine to Cape May.
Next stop: Spring Lake at Jersey Shore Walk Mile post 22.5 See all the Jersey Shore Walk stories at www.jerseyshorewalk.com