With wide, packed firm beaches good for jogging, a nature preserve in the middle of the island and the highest median home price on the Shore, Avalon lives up to its mythical name associated with the myth of King Arthur.
Unless you're staying at the northern end of the island, you may know the pleasure of standing on the jetty gazing out at the Townsend Inlet toward Sea Isle City. Along with the dunes in the middle island, this area stands out for anyone visiting Avalon.
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Remarkable maritime forest at the heart of the beach
Drive along Dune Road in Avalon and you won't see a dune. Yet, from 32nd and 58th Streets, the eastern side of Dune is blanketed by a heavy maritime forest. Remarkably, a swath of the oceanfront has been preserved as a maritime forest. There are cedar, holly and wild cherry trees along with bayberry and sumac bushes that lead to rolling dunes,
From the beach, the maritime forest creates a remarkable beachfront in the middle of this densely populated island where houses seem far, far from the beach, and there are only a few people staking a place to sun on the beach.
Former Life-Saving Service Station now private home
Before there was the United States Coast Guard, 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".
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 and many more along the nation's coastlines. By 1915, the Coast Guard was created and subsumed the Service.
In Avalon, a station was built in 1878 but then replaced by new station in 1895. After many years, the station was closed in 1937 and sold to people how converted into a private home. As shown in the photos above and below, the private home is easily recognized as a former station house.
From 1871 through 1914, the Life-Saving 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.”
"Cooler by the Mile" but longer than seven miles
The town's slogan of "Cooler by the Mile" refers to the fact that the so-called Seven Mile Island juts out into the Atlantic Ocean a miler further on the northern end than it does on the southern end. Or it refers to the fact that the island juts out a mile farther into the ocean than other barrier islands. It's hard to verify or disapprove either fact.
However, it's clear from walking the beach that the so-called Seven Mile Island is definitely longer than seven miles. Having walked the Stone Harbor Point from north to south and then back, I can state firmly that the island extends at least one additional mile beyond where the road ends at 122th Street. It's been more than 100 years since the original developer, the Seven Mile Company, bought the island, so you can imagine that getting people to start calling it the Eight Mile Island isn't going to happen anytime soon.
Avalon Fishing Pier where you're being watched
The Avalon Fishing Club has owned the Avalon Fishing Pier since 1933. The pier is 900-feet long, having been extended by 200 feet in 2016 to reach out farther into the ocean to allow year-round fishing. Apparently, South Jersey beaches have been adding sand along the beachfront because the Anglers Club of Absecon Island pier in Margate recently underwent a similar expansion for the same reason.
The fishing club is not accepting new members and doesn't allow public access.
How Avalon got its name
In April 1887, the Seven Mile Beach company bought the island that now includes Avalon and Stone Harbor in order to develop into a summer resort. Avalon was incorporated as a borough in 1892 and given its name by by Seven Mile Beach Company secretary Charles Bond.
The town's name is from England's Arthurian legend -- the place where King Arthur's sword Excalibur was forged. There are 20 places called Avalon in the world, including 16 in the United States.
Tips for visiting Avalon
What's New: Nothing new to report
Access and Parking: The main access to the town is from the Garden State Parkway on Avalon Boulevard. As it reaches the island, the Boulevard becomes 30th Street. From the northern end, the east-west streets start at 6th Street and run consecutively to 80th Street, the border with Stone Harbor. The numbering continues consecutively to 122nd Street in Stone Harbor. From the north along the ocean, there is a bridge across Townsends Inlet from Sea Isle City.
Amenities: Bathrooms and showers are located at Avalon Surfside Park along the half-mile Boardwalk. The park opened in 2019.
Beaches: Beach badges are required daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Full season badges are $30 for people 12 and older. Weekly badges cost $13. Daily badges cost $6. Badges can be purchased at the beach or via the Viply app. Avalon has reciprocity with Stone Harbor so no need to purchase more than one tag on the island.
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.