This is one of the Jersey Shore's most spectacular beaches -- wild, uninhabited, no roads, just ocean, bay and dunes. But stay away for now. When you come to the southern end of the paved road on Long Beach Island or along the beach in Holgate, the signs and the tape across the beach clearly prohibits entry. They're serious. You will get a ticket if you venture too far.
So mark your calendars for September 1 when you can escape the busy world of residential Long Beach Island and walk three and half miles of the Jersey Shore that has been off limits since March 31 to protect wildlife, particularly piping plover chicks.
Beach walkers, surfers and fishermen have to wait to have full access to more than 400 acres of barrier beaches, dunes and tidal salt marsh.
The thinest of peninsulas on this barrier island offers spectacular views of Atlantic City to the south and across the dunes and the Little Egg Inlet to the Rutgers University Marine Field Station, a working lab across in the Mullica River-Great Bay estuary.
For the first half of the walk, the peninsula is so thin that you can easily walk from the ocean to the bay including an official clamming trail. When it seems that the beach is about to end, the peninsula widens so the bay is no longer easily accessed. Not that pets are never permitted in this area.
After September 1, the is also open to drivers with a beach buggy permit from Long Beach Township. They are permitted to drive below the berm crest. The area above the berm crest is closed year round in order to protect dune habitat.
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South of Holgate is one of the last nesting sites still available for these birds along the Jersey Shore. During the nesting season––April 1 through August 31–– the plovers are enjoying the beach, particularly the beaches nearest to the jetty.
Surf break at the end of Long Beach Township
The metal jetty that's close to the Wildlife Refuge creates one of the best surf breaks on the island. Bring your surf gear from Ron Jon's in Ship Bottom and head here for the some of the biggest waves of the season.
The photo below was taken on the day in September 2021 that Hurricane Larry produced incredible waves at the beach and every surfer on the island rushed to Holgate.
Don't let anyone tell you LBI is 18 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.
No one counts the three miles from Holgate to the southern tip of the island. I venture to say that miles 19-21 on the island are one of the top two or three attractions on the island.
Tips for visiting the Wildlife Refuge
What's New: Closed for the summer season. Opens Sept. 1.
Access and Parking: To reach the Holgate Wilderness Beach, head south on Long Beach Boulevard. 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: Free. Vehicles are permitted but permits are required from Long Beach Township.
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.