top of page

Ship Bottom: Stormy Seas Gave Its Name, Ron Jon Brought It Fame

Updated: Jul 18, 2021

Approaching storm early June at Ship Bottom beach. All photos by R.C. Staab

The stormy seas off of Long Beach Island are responsible for how Ship Bottom got its name. See the full story below, but as one can imagine, the name came from a shipwreck off the coast and a spectacular rescue.

(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.)

Because it sits at the end of the Route 72 bridge across Barnegat Bay, everyone who visits Long Beach Island stops at or passes through Ship Bottom. It's a busy hub of commerce with a CVS, a Wawa, furniture stores, a few hotels and motels, and markets greeting driver before they even get as far as Long Beach Boulevard. Heading south along the Boulevard, there are plenty of places to eat or grab takeout foods.

East Coast surfing started here

Before the Beach Boys sang a song, before Gidget started the beach-party movies craze, Ron DiMenna bought a few surfboards from California and began selling them in front of the family grocery store in Manahawkin. His business was an immediate success. Eventually he moved across Manahawkin Bay to Ship Bottom and established the Ron Jon Surf Shop. It has become the largest chain of surf shops on the East Coast, with 14 locations, including the world’s largest surf shop in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Inside the store there are four shopping levels full of surfboards and boogie boards and most anything needed for a day on the beach or to star in a surfing video or Instagram post.


Get Beach Stuff at Surf City 5 &10

AND the #1 NJ Travel Guide

For almost 70 years, Surf City 5&10 has offered eveything from salt water taffy to hardware supplies. Get your autographed copy of the #1NJ Travel Guide and explore fishing spots and outdoor adventures at the Jersey Shore.


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.

In Barnegat Light, using a simple online pedometer tool, you can see that walking the beach from the jetty to 30th Street along the beach is considerably longer than driving from the northern most point to 30th Street. It's already more than 18 miles long, and that's not accounting for the three miles of the coastline at the southern tip along the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge.

Let's set the record straight and let people know LBI is 21 miles!

Where Ship Bottom gets its name

The name dates from 1817 when Captain Stephen Willets of Tuckerton heard about a ship in trouble near the shore. Searching in the fog, Willets' crew came upon the hull of a ship overturned in the shoals. According to local historian John Bailey Lloyd, corpses hung from the rigging and bobbed in the frigid sea. But the crew heard a noise, chopped a hole in the ship's bottom and freed a young woman trapped inside.

No record exists of her name or the name of the ship, but the place of the shipwreck and the rescue became known as “Ship Bottom.”

Tips for Visiting Ship Bottom

What's New: Nothing major to report.

Access and Parking: When you head east on Route 72 and arrive on Long Beach Island, you're in Ship Bottom. Long Beach Boulevard is the main road.

Amenities: There are no restrooms available at the beach.

Beaches: Beach badges are required daily from June 18 to Labor Day for people 12 to 64 years old. Full season badges are $45 for this age range. People who are 65 years or older pay $10 for a senior badge. Weekly badges are $25. Daily badges are $10 and are available in person at the beach or via the Viply app. 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: Long Beach Township southern beaches on Long Beach Island at Jersey Shore Walk Mile post 60. See profiles of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, Island Beach State Park and every beach and town on the northern part of the Jersey Shore at


Summer is here. So get out and explore the Jersey Shore

with the #1 NJ Guide

Get the scoop on seafood, salt water taffy and ice cream joints. Plus discover quiet beaches, historic sites and outdoor adventures with 100 Things to Do at the Jersey Shore Before You Die.


bottom of page