Overhead view of the surrounding countryside

Free Public Beaches in New Jersey

Apr 11, 2017


The Jersey Shore is one of the most defining features of the Garden State. Extending over 140 miles, New Jersey is home to hundreds of beaches, including the famous Atlantic City beaches. New Jersey’s beaches have built up an excellent reputation for being some of the most beautiful, and expensive, in the nation, as they are one of the few places in the United States that charge for beach access. An unplanned trip to the beach in New Jersey can end up costing you up to $15 per person just to sit on the sand! Many beaches in the area, and particularly in Monmouth County, let you save big bucks by buying a seasonal pass, but why pay for beach time when there are other options available? Fortunately, within those 140 miles of coastline, the Jersey Shore has multiple free public beaches that are perfect for bringing along the whole family. Monmouth County also offers several free public beach options, so if you’re looking for a fun place to take the family then read on!

Free Public Beaches in Monmouth County

Monmouth County has nearly 20 different beach options to choose from, but most will cost you between $5 to $8.50 per person. Out of those 20, there are a handful of free options. These beaches are found on the northern end of the Jersey Shore, and are frequented by both New Jersey residents and out-of-state visitors.

Sandy Hook Beach

Sandy Hook is unique among free beaches in New Jersey, as it holds one of the greatest historical significances to the state. Discovered in the early 1600’s, Sandy Hook plays host to numerous statues, monuments, and a beautiful natural forest that is perfect for bird watching in New Jersey. While access to the beach at Sandy Hook is free, there is a $15 daily parking fee associated with the trip. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, visitors are required to purchase a parking permit to enter the beach from 7am to 4pm daily. Visitors have access to restrooms at the park, beaches, and historical sites. There is also a shuttle bus that is available from the boat pier to take visitors to each of the six beach areas. An important note, Gunnison Beach, which is one of Sandy Hook’s free beaches, is also the only nude beach in New Jersey. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Keansburg Beach

Keansburg, the northernmost free public beach reviewed in this resource guide, offers families a full day of fun. Not only is the public beach free and secluded, but it’s located near the Runaway Rapids Water Park and it’s boardwalk features one of the oldest amusement parks in America. Visitors may also enjoy the bird watching opportunities available to them here. This beach also provides some excellent views of the New York City skyline. The Keansburg beach area offers wheelchair-accessible restrooms, showers, and changing rooms. Metered and on-street parking are available, as well as a private paid lot. There is food permitted on the beach,  but there are no lifeguards on duty, so swim with caution.

Ideal Beach

Known to be a bit quieter public beaches than most, Ideal Beach is a bay beach found in Middletown Township, New Jersey. Pet-friendly as well as free, visitors to Ideal Beach will find that it is aptly named. The beach is typically not crowded, beautiful, and perfect to bring the kids. With parking adjacent, clean sand, and permission to bring food, Ideal Beach may quickly become one of your favorite secret beaches in all of New Jersey. An important note here is that the restroom at Ideal Beach is not open year round.

Other Free Public Beaches in New Jersey

Monmouth County isn’t the only region in New Jersey that offers visitors free access to the Jersey Shore. Below are five beaches that are free and open to the public to enjoy.

The Wildwoods Beach

The Wildwoods is commonly referred to as one of the best beaches in New Jersey — free or otherwise. This five-mile stretch of white sand is the host of many events in New Jersey, including soccer, lacrosse, and hockey tournaments. The Wildwoods International Kite Festival is sure to entertain the whole family as well. With over 30 blocks of Boardwalk, Wildwoods offers an incredible amount to do. Whether you’re interested in shopping, dining, live entertainment, or even just hanging out at the amusement park, Wildwood’s Boardwalk makes for an exciting time any day of the week. Experience the old-school-cool of doo wop era New Jersey by spending the day at the Wildwoods, and take advantage of the free beach with free parking!

Atlantic City Beach

Most people are familiar with Atlantic City as the East Coast’s version of Las Vegas, but this beach town offers so much more. Atlantic City provides some of the most fun free beaches in the state, as well as a top tier Boardwalk with shopping, dining, and more. Whether you’re looking to surf, kayak, fish, or swim, Atlantic City provides free access to it all. Ideal for a romantic getaway, or even a family adventure, Atlantic City is one of the most popular free beaches in all of New Jersey. Just please be safe! Swim only when lifeguards are present, from 10am to 6pm during the summer.

Cape May

Cape May offers visitors a slightly more low-key beach experience. This public beach offers visitors access to free parking and free beachfront access. Enjoy some privacy at Cape May, as there are no lifeguards patrolling the area. You can even pack a lunch and enjoy some privacy on the beach, completely free of charge. Unfortunately, pets are not permitted on the beach from April to September to protect the endangered bird species that make their nests here for part of the year. Cape May is known for being a major migratory route in North America and has built a reputation for being one of the best places in the nation for bird watching. If the beach really isn’t your thing, that’s okay. Cape May also offers visitors three different hiking trails to explore.

Somers Point Beach

Somers Point Beach, commonly known as the William Morrow Beach, is open to the public every weekend from Memorial Day, and seven days a week starting in June. This free beach provides free parking, restrooms, and lifeguards on duty at posted times. Somers Point is also great for the kids! This is one of the few beaches that features a playground with 2 different play areas in case you need to take a break from the sand and surf. Visitors are also encouraged to use this beach as a place to learn to boat, as the water is shallow so beginners needn’t worry about interfering with larger vessel traffic. Fisherman will enjoy the large covered pier and ample fishing. Families will also love the free music, starting at 7pm on the 3rd Friday in June until the second Friday in September.


Located just south of Ocean City and just north of Sea Isle City, Strathmere beach is truly an incredible find. Strathmere offers visitors plenty to see and do, but it does not offer visitors a boardwalk or public restroom. However, it does offer lifeguard-protected areas and surfing. Visitors should be aware that that within lifeguard-protected areas the following activities are prohibited:

  • Ball playing
  • Rafts, inner tubes, and other inflatables
  • Alcohol
  • Fires
  • Pets
  • Vehicles or Horses
  • Fishing while lifeguards are on duty

Strathmere is also home to Whale Beach, named for the whales that would frequently beach themselves here. Whale Beach is not lifeguard protected and may offer more privacy to enjoy yourself.

Find More To Do in Monmouth County

Is the beach not really your interest? That’s okay! Monmouth County has plenty more to offer. Check out more things to do in Freehold, NJ here! Do you know of any free public beaches that we’ve missed? We’re happy to add them. Just contact us!