Updated: Oct 25, 2021
It's open for the season -- the most beautiful beach on the island of the Wildwoods! At the southern end of Diamond Beach you'll find the re-opened Two Mile Beach which is comprised of one mile of Cape May Wildlife National Refuge and one mile of the U.S. Coast Guard's station. Now through April 1, explore and enjoy.
There are several trails that begin at the Two Mile beach parking lot about a half mile south of Diamond Beach. The access to the lot is from Ocean Drive on a tiny street called the USCG Entrance Street, a few feet from Madison Avenue in Diamond Beach, separate by a fence. It looks foreboding but drive south toward the Coast Guard Station and look for the parking lot on the left.
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The trails from the parking lot wind toward the beach, reaching the ocean at either a point a half mile south of Diamond Beach or where the Cape May Wildlife National Refuge meets the Coast Guard beach.For bird watchers, there is a good lookout spot on the ridge by the beach just south of Diamond Beach (see above).
The next few weeks are ideals times to visit this area as migratory birds head south for the winter and often stop at the southern tip of the island.
Coast Guard section of the Beach is a "NO" -- sort of
The beach in front of the U.S. Coast Guard station was open to military personnel and veterans for years. But according to the Coast Guard in August 2021, there are no plans to allow anyone to access the beach at any time during the year.
However, despite the signs that say "No" along the beach and more ominous "off limits" signs along the trails, this past weekend when I visited, people regularly walked past the sign to walk the entire two miles from Diamond Beach to the northern point of the Cape May Inlet. And during a boat ride along the Cape May Inlet, I observed more people walking on the Coast Guard section to the jetty.
Be warned, the beach is officially off limits. Walk along it at your own risk.
Role of the National Wildlife Refuge
Established in 1989, Cape May National Wildlife Refuge provides critical habitat to a wide variety of migratory birds and other wildlife especially important with the ongoing development of the Jersey Shore. Cape May Peninsula's unique configuration and location concentrate songbirds, raptors and woodcock as they head for their fall migration or arrive in the spring on their way north. Faced with 12 miles of water to cross at the Delaware Bay, the bird stop to rest and feed until favorable winds allow them to cross the Bay or head north along the Bay's eastern shore.
The Two Mile Beach Unit has tidal ponds and a maritime forest that's an important habitat for piping plover, the state endangered least tern and the American black duck.
Two Mile beach's name
No one knows exactly who named the beach, but it's been on mariner maps for literally hundreds of years. It predates the naming of most towns on the Jersey Shore.
Wikipedia wrongly calls it a barrier island, which it was until 1922 when Turtle Gut Inlet was closed by the force of Mother Nature. At this point, Two Mile Beach was connected to what people called Five Mile Beach. Not trusting Mother Nature to re-open the channel, no one ever changed the island's name to Seven Mile Beach, probably because there was already the Seven Mile Beach farther north consisting of Stone Harbor and Avalon.
Two Mile Beach today shares an island that includes The Wildwood and Diamond Beach.
Ironically, the Two Mile name is more widely associated with the wildly popular and heavily promoted Two Mile Landing Restaurants across Ocean Avenue on the bay than their namesake Two Mile Beach.
Note that the Wildwoods is a marketing short-cut to reference the communities on the island: North Wildwood, Wildwood, West Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Diamond Beach, Two Mile Beach and the Coast Guard station at the southern tip. Also note that Wildwood Gables is not a separate town but a neighborhood of Wildwood Crest.
Tips for visiting Two Mile Beach
What's New: The beach is open until April 1 when it closes so shorebirds can nest.
Access and Parking: The main access to the area is by taking Ocean Drive from Cape May. At the first road on your right toward the ocean, follow the signs for United State Coast Guard Entrance. Before reaching the gates to the Coast Guard station, make a left into the parking lot where you access trials and the beach. You can also reach the area by driving from Diamond Beach/Wildwood Crest along Pacific Avenue or by walking on the beach via Diamond Beach.
Parking is free in the lot off the Coast Guard road.
This summer, follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab walked the entire 139 miles of the Jersey Shore coastline from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park, Long Beach Island from Old Barney to the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge and from Brigantine to Cape May.
Next stop: Cape May at Jersey Shore Walk Mile post 133. See profiles of Diamond Beach, Wildwood Crest, Wildwood, North Wildwood, Stone Harbor and Avalon and every beach and town along the Jersey Shore at www.jerseyshorewalk.com