The drive along Ocean Avenue in Deal is stunning. Sleek modern mansions and manicured lawns line the wide boulevard. But that vista is nothing compared to a walk on the Deal beaches.
The enormity of the mansions is breathtaking. Unlike any other northern Jersey Shore community to its north or south, Deal's beachfront is lined with private homes not separated from the ocean by sea walls, promenades or boardwalks. That's almost two miles of mansions broken up only by the low slung Deal Casino Beach Club which is a private beach club and Conover Pavilion, the Borough's public beach facility. The photos tell the story.
Influx of new residents
Deal was once known for its summer theater and Broadway connections. That ended when a beachfront arts and theater complex closed more than 60 years ago. In the past 20 years, Deal has attracted a large Syrian-American community that has spurred the growth and development of the housing market. Many of the community are Orthodox Sephardic Jews, and they can be seen
walking Saturday mornings to one of seven synagogues in the Borough. That's seven synagogues in a town with a permanent population of 750 people, which is estimated to be 80% Syrian Jews.
The town's main shopping along Norwood Avenue/Route 71 is small and removed from the beach. Residents and visitors tend to head to Asbury Park and particularly Long Branch which has grocery stores and restaurants that are kosher.
Rock walls, jetties and surfers
Along the Deal beach walk, man has tried mightily to keep the ocean at bay. Huge rock piles and giant cement walls prop up homes particularly at the southern end toward Allenhurst. The efforts
to tamper breaking waves extends into the water with a series of jetties. The byproduct of the jetties is more dependable waves. Surfers love that. Even on a recent cold spring day, Deal had many more surfers than any nearby beach. During the summer season, lifeguards will point surfers (and fishermen) to designated beach areas away from the swimmers.
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Tips for Visiting Deal Beach
What's New: Nothing.
Road Access & Parking: Parallel to the beach is four-lane Ocean Boulevard, the major access to the beach. Parking is always free in Deal, but some streets have two-hour parking limits. Read the signs carefully! At Conover Pavilion, there is a paved lot open to Conover Pavilion members with a parking pass. Parking is always free at the grass lot closer to Ocean Avenue, but it fills up quickly in the summer.
Amenities: With your beach badge, you can access the showers and restrooms at Conover Pavilion. Memberships are required to the bath house at Conover Pavilion and are sold out for the season. According to the Borough, there is a "12-page waiting list" for this year.
Beaches: Beach badges are only required weekends from May 29 through June 20 and then daily from June 25 to September 6. Seasonal beach badges are $150 for persons 12 and older. Daily beach badges are $10 Monday-Thursday and $12 Friday-Sunday for those12 and older.
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 from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park, from Old Barney to Beach Haven, from Brigantine to Cape May.
Next stop: Allenhurst at Beach Walk Mile post 17.5. See all the Jersey Shore Walk stories at www.JerseyShoreWalk.com