With Seaside Heights and Seaside Park hogging the attention of directional signs along Routes 37 and 35, it's no wonder you speed through South Seaside Park without knowing it's there. Signs reference Berkeley Township which may seem odd because 99% of the township is much further inland. There's no town to speak of. And half of this half-mile stretch of beach is private and doesn't allow daily access to the beach or permit on-street parking to anyone who isn't an association member.
Welcome to tiny, quirky South Seaside Park.
(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.)
The battle of the dunes: Midway Condo Association vs NJ DEP
Like Toms River Township's North Dover beaches, the northern section of South Seaside Park is privately run by the Midway Beach Condominium Association. Most people think of condominiums as high rises or multi-story town homes. At Midway Beach, there are almost 400 homeowners living in small beach bungalows that date from the last century. Only a handful of the home even have a second story.
Over many years, the association built large dunes that withstood the impact of Superstorm Sandy. After the storm, the state set about rebuilding all almost the dunes along Barnegat Island including Midway Beach. The Association objected and went to court claiming its dunes will be dismantled by state. After much back and forth, the judges allowed the state Department of Environmental Protection to "seize" the dunes through the eminent domain, after the state promised that no existing dunes will be shortened.
From a casual view of the dunes (see above), a person can see the difference the Midway duens are more scattered and less like a checkerboard than the newer dunes built by the Army Corps of Engineers.
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Berkeley Township's beachfront once stretched from Toms Rivers Township/Ortley Beach to the Barnegat Inlet. Over time, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park broke away to form their own governments, and the state created Island Beach State Park. These "subtractions" to the township left an unincorporated area which is informally know as South Seaside Park.
Tips for Visiting Berkeley Township's South Seaside Park
What's New: Nothing new to report.
Access and Parking: The easiest route to South Seaside Park is via Route 37 from Exit 82 of the Garden State Parkway and then south along Route 35. Look for sign reading "Twp of Berkeley." Parking is not permitted at Midway Beach without a permit. Parking is free in most of Seaside Park south of 20th Avenue.
Beaches: The township's beach is between 20th and 23rd Avenues (the border with Island Beach State Park). Beach badges are required for access to all beaches weekends starting Memorial Day Weekend and then daily from June 19 to Labor Day. Full season badges are $50; weekly badges are $25. For people 65 years old or over, a seasonal beach badge is $15 and a senior lifetime badge is $20. Daily badges are $10. There is no cost for people 11 years of age and under.
Bear in mind a person need only walk south of 24th Avenue into Island Beach State Park where the beach is free.
Midway Beach between 3rd Lane and 20th Avenue is a private beach. A separate beach badge is required for this part of the beach. Full season badges are $65 for people 12 to 64 years old and $20 for people 65 and older from June 19 to Labor Day. There are no weekly or daily badges available.
This 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, on Long Beach Island from Old Barney to the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge and from Brigantine to Cape May.
Next stop: Island Beach State Park at Jersey Shore Walk Mile post 40.5. See profiles of Seaside Park, Seaside Heights, Ortley Beach, Lavalette, Pt. Pleasant Beach and other Jersey Shore Walk beach towns at www.jerseyshorewalk.com