Holgate: Ocean Lapping at Dunes. Surfer's break at southern end. Private house photo on water tower.
Walking from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park and all along the coast of Long Beach Island, you can see government agencies have worked mightily to pipe and truck in tons of sand to restore beaches. Especially since Superstorm Sandy, dunes have been built to keep the ocean from reaching the houses and buildings at ocean's edge.
Unfortunately, at Holgate on the southern tip of Long Beach Island, man is losing the battle against the ocean for now. Many of the dunes are sheer drop offs, having been partially washed
away by lapping waves and storms. By day, bulldozers face a Herculean challenge of taking piles of sand to restore crumbling dunes. By night, the bulldozers sit at the beach walkways, resuming their duties the next morning.
To be clear, Holgate has stretches particularly at the northern end and past the jetty to the south where there's plenty of room to hang out on the beach. But walking from end of Holgate beach to the other end at high tide usually requires wading through some water or balancing on steep cliffs of sand.
(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.)
Wildlife area closed for wildlife until September
With the exception of the U.S. Coast Guard stations in Sandy Hook to the north and Cape May to the south, there's only one place off limits to people, at least until September 1. The Holgate section of the Edwin Forysth Wildlife Refuge is completely fenced off this summer to give the
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piping plovers space for breeding. The area consists of more than 400 acres of barrier beaches, dunes and tidal salt marsh. For the time being, there is an option to see the abundant wildlife on the refuge. At Bowker's South Beach Deli, you can rent kayaks. The deli staff will direct you to where you can put in the kayaks on the bay. You can grab a sandwich or a cookie after your exercise.
Surf break at road's end
Long Beach Township has four separate non-contiguous sections of the island: Loveladies, North Beach, a 5-mile section of the mid-beach and finally Holgate, the last developed town on the island. Your Long Beach Township beach badge works here.
The metal jetty that's close to the Wildlife Refuge creates a good surf break. Bring your surf gear from Ron Jon's in Ship Bottom and head here for the waves.
About Holgate's name and the picture on the tower
In the early 1900s James Holgate purchased the land south of Beach Haven to the southern tip of the island which became named for him, Holgate.
On the Holgate water tower is possibly the only architectural image you'll find on a public water tower anywhere. The image is a depiction of the 1920s U.S. Coast Guard Station on Janet Avenue on the Bay. It's now a private home but Holgate still embraces the image.
Don't let anyone tell you LBI is18 miles long
The conventional wisdom is that LBI is 18 miles long. But apparently this notion was begun by the road crews who paved the first road from Old Barney to Holgate to the south. As measured by the concrete road from Old Barney parking lot to Holgate, LBI is 18 miles.
When you're standing at the fence in the parking lot at the southern end of Holgate, turn around. There's another three miles to go as you walk along the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge to the end of the island. Let's set the record straight and let people know LBI is 21 miles!
Tips for Visiting Holgate
What's New: Nothing major to report.
Access and Parking: To reach Holgate, head south on Long Beach Boulevard until it ends. Street parking is free. There's a free parking lot at the southern tip of Long Beach Boulevard at Cleveland Avenue.
Amenities: At Cleveland Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard, there's a beach pavilion with restrooms and showers.
Beaches: Beach badges are required daily from June 19 to Labor Day for people ages 12 to 64. Full season badges are $45 for this age range and $5 for people 65 years and older. Weekly badges are $20. Daily badges are $10. There is no cost for people 11 years of age and under.
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: The Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge at southern tip of Long Beach Island at Jersey Shore Walk Mile post 70. See profiles of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, every beach and town on the northern part of the Jersey Shore and Long Beach Island at www.jerseyshorewalk.com