Pt. Pleasant Beach: Family Boardwalk, Party Town, Coast Guard HQ, 4 Private Beaches All Cost More
On the northern section of the Jersey Shore, Pt. Pleasant Beach arguably features the premiere boardwalk for families with young children. For almost 100 years, the Boardwalk has been home to Jenkinson's Pavilion which has withstood storms as well as a major fire in 1989. Today, Jenkinson's Pavilion is part of Jenkinson's Boardwalk, which owns all the attractions and restaurants along the Boardwalk and controls the beach in front of the Boardwalk.
There's a busy downtown with a full-service grocery store, Bain's Point Hardware, book stores, souvenir shops, restaurants and Joe Leone's Italian deli. It's well worth a stop whether a person is headed to the beach or not. Most parking is free. Be advised that traffic along Richmond Avenue and Hawthrone Avenue is hectic because drivers on the four-lane, divided highway across the inlet often don't adjust their speed as the road narrows after crossing the bridge into town.
Jenkinson's for families
Like Disney and unlike other Boardwalks on the Jersey Shore, there is uniformity to the restaurants, attractions and shops along Jenkinson's Boardwalk. About 40 years ago, the owner of Jenkinson's purchased all the properties along the Boardwalk so every business and attraction is run by Jenkinson's with the exception of Martell's Tiki Bar and Kohr's Frozen Custard -- the best exception of all. Attractions include: Jenkinson's Amusement Park, two miniature golf courses --Castaway Cove and Lighthouse Point, The Fun House, Adventure Lookout Rope Courses, A 7D Dark Ride, Batting cages and Jenkinson's Aquarium which is mostly for kids experiencing an aquarium for the first time or with short attention spans.
Pricing is fairly complicated among the attractions, so one easy option is wristbands which offer unlimited rides for three hours or longer periods on some weekdays. A great idea is to check out pricing before you get there because the attractions spread across the Boardwalk and along Ocean Avenue.
All the beachfront by the Boardwalk is also Jenkinson's private property with once again the exception of Martell's (see below).
Jenks Club, Jenks Inlet Bar and Martell's Tiki Bar for the party-goers
If MTV's Jersey Shore's crowd is looking to hang out at the Shore this summer, Jenks Club on the Pavilion is on the short list. During the day, Jenks has a designated area right on the beach where it serves alcohol. Beach badges are required. At night, the action moves mostly indoors with a DJ or live band bringing the dance club to its feet. Food and drinks are served.
Overlooking the Manasquan River is Jenks Inlet, a beach bar and restaurant that's open during the day and for happy hour.
Stop at Little Point Bookshop for the #1 NJ Travel Guide
Get the scoop on whale watching, minor league baseball, fishing adventures and more with the #1 NJ Travel Guide:100 Things to Do at the Jersey Shore Before You Die. The Little Point Bookshop has moved into a large space across the street at 618 Arnold Avenue
Sandwiched in by Jenkinson's Boardwalk on both sides is Martell's Tiki Bar. Like Jenks Club, it owns a private area of the beach where you can buy drinks during the day and a restaurant and nightclub with a live band or a DJ at night. Martell's prides itself on its Tiki Bar and fresh fruit tropical drinks including the famous Tiki Tea with iced tea flavored vodka and pink lemonade. Beach access by the club requires a beach badge that must be purchased from Martell's.
Because these clubs appeal to a younger adult crowd who party long and late into the night, some of the locals complain loudly on social media about that crowd's behavior. There's a natural tension between the residential community and the major single employer which has dual interests in promoting a family tourist destination and promoting popular nightclubs.
Life Saving Service Station & Today's Coast Guard
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". This was typically after the ships had wrecked. Squan or Manasquan was one of the original sites with a station (really a large boat house) constructed in 1856.
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.”
Today's Coast Guard Station is manned by a crew of 30 full-time men and women, supported by Flotillas of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The focus now is saving people before the "ship wrecks." The station’s area of responsibility is from Spring Lake to Seaside Heights, from the Manasquan River entrance to Toms River, all of Barnegat Bay and up to 48 miles offshore. The Manasquan Inlet also is the northern terminus of the Intracoastal Waterway which means that on any summer weekend as many as 1600 boats may pass through it. They respond to about 600 search and rescue cases a year. The main station building is in Point Pleasant Beach along the inlet.
Four privately-run beaches due to "extreme cost to the borough of maintenance"
More than 100 years ago, the Borough made an unusual decision to get out of the beach business due to "extreme cost to the borough for maintenance". All beachfronts are now privately run included the Maryland Avenue Beach. Locals and even the Borough calls Maryland Avenue a "municipal beach" but the Borough has granted day-to-day operation to privately-run, for-profit company that operates Bradshaw's Beach. Beach badge price are creeping up -- all beaches below have increased prices somewhat from last year! Here are the beaches and the related costs to access them:
* Jenkinson's Beach is from the Manasquan River Inlet at the north to the end of the Boardwalk at New Jersey Avenue with the exception of Martell's private beach. Daily beach badges for people 12 and older cost $12 on weekdays and $13 on weekends and holidays. For people 5-11, the daily beach badges cost $4 on weekdays and $5 on weekends and holidays. Seasonal beach badges are $55 for children 5-11, $120 for people 12-64 and $90 for people older than 65. Seasonal badges include access to bathhouse facilities.
* Martell's Beach is a fenced off area just south of Jenkinson's Pavillion at 308 Boardwalk. Seasonal beach badges are $125 (were $85 before May 1). Daily beach badges are $10.
* Bradshaw's Beach is south of the Boardwalk with an entrance at Washington Avenue and the beach. Seasonal beach badges are $125. Daily beach badge are $12 Monday-Thursday and $13 Friday-Sunday and holidays. Children 3 and under are free. Badges are required Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Weekend and then daily from June 20 to Labor Day.
* Maryland Avenue Beach is south of Bradshaw's Beach to the Bay Head border with an entrance at Maryland Avenue. Seasonal beach badges are $125 except people 65 or older who pay $65. Daily beach badges are $12 Monday-Thursday and $13 Friday-Sunday and holidays. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Badges are required Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Weekend and then daily from June 20 to Labor Day.
First the Lenape, then Captain John Arnold
According to the Borough's history, the area of Pt. Pleasant Beach was a "playground" for the Native Lenape people long before white settlers arrived. As roads improved and trains were introduced in after the Civil War, Pt. Pleasant and the Manasquan River became destinations for artists and writers (i.e. painters Thomas Eakins, Edward Boulton and writer Eugene O'Neill who married Boulton's daughter). Pt. Pleasant Beach's founding father so to speak is considered Captain John Arnold who built a roadway, later named Arnold Avenue, from his boarding house in town to the ocean. The retired sea captain helped to secure the construction of the first bridge from Brielle to Point Pleasant Beach, gave money and land to convince the Central Railroad of New Jersey to extend its line to town and was part of the group that developed nearby Manotoking.
For a fascinating and often amusing timeline of Point Pleasant, check out the Point Pleasant Historical Society Timeline here.
Tips for Visiting Pt. Pleasant Beach
What's New: Nothing new to report.
Access and Parking: From the north, the only entry to the town is over the heavily-trafficked Route 35 bridge. Upon entering town, Route 35 becomes a one-way street heading south toward Bay Head with a quick U-turn for beach access. A block east is Hawthorne Avenue, a one-way street running north. Arnold Avenue is the main east-west access. Access from the south is also from Route 35 from Bay Head. Near the beach, there are paid municipal lots, Jenkinson's paid lots, paid street parking and some non-metered daily parking. Read the signs carefully!
Amenities: There are restrooms along the boardwalk.
Beaches: Access to the beach in Pt. Pleasant is not free. See above for details.
Starring Role: Pt. Pleasant Beach has been featured in the movie Tomorrow is Today.
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.