Crossing the Brigantine Bridge over the Absecon Inlet takes one from the spirited, hectic visitor-focused world of Atlantic City to a more relaxed beach that seems more like the suburbs than a city. There are no hi-rises except for the former Brigantine Inn, some condo complexes and apartment buildings, but mostly homes with yards.
Brigantine stands completely on its own -- a great beach that is tied to Atlantic City because of history and access. In fact, it was known for a decade as East Atlantic City!
Of the nearby Shore towns, Brigantine is less dense. When walking the wide, flat beach, the crowds are more spread out. Particularly, in the southern part of Brigantine, there are large sections between lifeguards stands with plenty of room to spread out and social distance.
Dog and 4x4 friendly beaches
In North Brigantine, housing development ends at 15th Street North, but the city's beach continues for about a half a mile to North Brigantine Natural Area run by the state. This section of the city beach allows dogs, vehicles and fishing all year long. On the southern part of the island is The Cove and Jetty Beach at Absecon Inlet where on a busy weekend, you'll see vehicles parking side by side like in a mall parking lot. There are plenty of dogs and fishermen as well.
All vehicles entering the beach must have a permit, which must be obtained at the beach house, not at the beach. Areas for surfing, kite flying, jet skis and fishing are clearly spelled out here.
(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.)
Marine Mammal Stranding Center
On Brigantine Boulevard near the Brigantine "Lighthouse" is a tiny building with a large mission on the New Jersey waterways—rescuing stranded seals, dolphins, whales, and sea turtles. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is the only public or private entity in the state that responds to calls to help stranded marine mammals on the rivers and beaches of the Jersey Shore. You can watch their efforts via a close-circuit camera and observe local fish in a 1000-gallon observation tank (summer only) or stop in at the museum to see replicas of marine mammals and fish which have been found or stranded in New Jersey Waters.
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The only place to sit on a bench and view the ocean without walking in the sand is the Brigantine Seawall between 14th Street North Street and 19 Street North.
Where Brigantine gets its name
In the 1890s, Brigantine was incorporated as a borough and then a city, but was renamed East Atlantic City in 1914. That lasted for 10 years until Brigantine was re-incorporated as a city.
The name comes from the many shipwrecks in the area, including those of brigantines which are two-masted sailing ships with a square-rigged foremast and a fore-and-aft-rigged mainmast.
Tips for visiting Brigantine
What's New: Nothing new to report
Access and Parking: The only access to the island from Atlantic City is across the Brigantine Bridge. Generally parking is free. There are beach parking areas at 2nd Street and Roosevelt Blvd and along Ocean Avenue at 16th, 26th, 34th and 38th streets. For these lots, seasonal parking is $25, daily parking is $8.
Amenities: There's a shower at the end of the Boardwalk at 9th Street North.
Beaches: Beach badges are required daily from June 19 to Labor Day. Full season badges are $25 for this people up to 59 years old and $8 for people 60 to 64 years old. Badges are free for people older than 65, but they must obtain a beach badge at the Beach Fee Office. Weekly badges are $15. Daily badges are $10. There is no cost for people 11 years of age and under. Badges can be purchased through Viply App or at Beach Fee Office, 265 42nd St.
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: Atlantic City at Jersey Shore Walk Mile post 80. See profiles of North Brigantine, Long Beach Island and every beach and town on the northern part of the Jersey Shore and Long Beach Island at www.jerseyshorewalk.com