People may not realize they have crossed into the skinny, two-mile town that is Mantoloking, which sits nonchalantly between the ocean and Barnegat Bay and between Bay Head and the Brick Beaches. Other than the westerly turn at Herbert Street to cross the Mantoloking Bridge, the Borough has no real visual landmarks -- no business, no shopping district, no parking lots and no attractions. From the ocean, it's nearly impossible to know where Bay Head ends and Mantoloking begins.
Superstorm Sandy obliterated in Mantoloking at the Bay reached out to the Ocean at the point where the Mantoloking Bridge connects the mainland to the peninsula and formed a new inlet (eventually closed off course). It literally cut the town in half. One of the by-products of the storm has been seemingly never-ending construction of new homes and rebuilding of existing ones, particularly along busy Route 35. As you leave Bay Head on Route 35 today, the first site in Mantoloking is a large house under construction. Up and down the ocean front and Route 35, construction of large homes seems never-ending. The architecture of the homes falls back on tried and tradition of stately homes at the Shore, rather than modern, contemporary houses.
There is much to-do about the dunes in Mantoloking, which have been substantially reinforced since Superstorm Sandy. The Borough even publishes a Dunes Do's and Don'ts on its website. The dunes
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have had the effect of blocking some of the homeowners views from their ground floor. As a result, there are several platforms built on the dunes, but those are strictly regulated by the Borough.
Stunning view of Barnegat Bay
It's well worth the effort to turn one's back on the ocean and walk two blocks west for a view of Barnegat Bay, even if it means hunting down one of the only three public access points. The walkway (pictured below) at the 1100 block of Ocean Avenue offers a 180 degree view of the bay with the nearby Mantoloking Bridge arching over the water on its way to West Mantoloking.
Captain John Arnold and Mantoloking
When he wasn't developing Pt. Pleasant Beach, that town's founding father Captain John Arnold found time to be part of the group that developed Mantoloking. Using his political and economic clout in 1883, Arnold convinced the Ocean County Freeholders to allow him to build a bridge across Barnegat Bay for $4,000. This swing draw bridge was completed to Old Bridge Street in 1884. The current bridge was completed in 2006 for $22 million.
Site of Life-Saving Station
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".
Both the US Coast Guard and the U.S. Life-Saving Service Station Heritage Association note that there was a life station in Mantoloking in 1872 that was closed in 1937 and eventually destroyed. It was located at what is now 1551 Ocean Avenue,
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 including a new Deal station in 1882. From 1871 through 1914, the 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.”
Like Manasquan which derives its name from the Native Lenape People, Mantoloking roughly translates into “frog ground,” with a secondary meaning of “sand place.”
Tips for Visiting Mantoloking
What's New: Nothing new to report except the construction of course.
Access and Parking: Most people enter Mantoloking along busy Route 35 (aka Ocean Avenue) from Bay Head to the north of the Brick Beaches to the south or across Route 528, the Mantoloking Bridge from West Mantoloking. There are parking lots either private or public. While street parking is free, there are few spaces and some limit the amount of time cars can park.
Beaches: There isn't a boardwalk or a promenade. There are 13 beach access points along Ocean Avenue. Badges are required daily from June 18 through September 5. Full season badges are $95. Daily badges are $12 and are available at Lyman Street and Downer Avenue kiosks. Badges are not required for people under the age of 12.
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.