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 wit
If they could only pipe the sand from one end to the other...
On Brigantine Island, Mother Nature has done what it has often at the Shore for years -- take sand away from the northern end and dumped it on the southern end.
In North Brigantine, the beach's dunes have been mostly washed away by the boardwalk. The city has made repairs at Fourth and Fifth streets, added crushed shells at Sixth and Seventh streets and put steps at Eighth Street, where erosion created cliffs.
Meanwhile on the southern end at the island at Absecon Inlet across from Atlantic City, the sand has increased and the New Jersey Department of Transportation, working with the federal government dredged most of the inlet around Atlantic City last year. However, dredging was not done on a canal between Absecon Inlet and St. George’s Thorofare that gives boats access to homes, the inlet and the beach. It's a super popular party spot. Local federal and state representatives are pushing to get the NJDOT to solve the problem in 2022.
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.
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: Challenges with sand in all the wrong places.
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 people up 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.
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.