Cape May has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. From Higbee Beach to Poverty Beach, Cape May is a beach-lovers’ paradise. Whether you’re interested in seeing friends, returning to a traditional spot, convenient food and beverage, solitude, or nearby shopping, there’s beach that’s just right for you in Cape May. All of Cape May City’s beaches are family friendly and clean, and close to restrooms and food. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to visit the beach during your visit.
Please note: The information below pertains to Cape May City beaches.
Location and Parking
Cape May City beaches run approximately 2.5 miles parallel to Beach Avenue and are within walking distance from most accommodations.
Metered parking is available along the beachfront. Free parking is located several blocks in on smaller side streets.
Not sure which beach you want to visit? Read Which beach is THE beach?
- Beach tags are required (ages 12 and up) on all beaches from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day during guarded hours. They are available at all beach entrances and at City Hall. More about beach tags
- The Cape May Beach Patrol protects the beaches from The Cove to Poverty Beach from 10am – 5:30pm from July 1 through Labor Day
- Lifeguards respond to water and medical emergencies. There are always several NJ Department of Health certified EMTs on duty in the summertime.
- Please clean up after yourself and remove anything you bring with you.
- Beach tents, umbrellas, and canopies are welcome
- Public restrooms are located along the promenade approximately every half mile
- Open showers are located along the promenade to wash off sand
- The beach patrol provides free surf chairs to people with restricted mobility
- Feel free to bring coolers and food, but alcohol is not permitted. If you don’t want to carry your food, there are a variety beachfront restaurants and food stands serving up summer favorites.
- In the summer, only verifiable service animals are permitted on the beaches. No pets. Dogs are permitted from November-March. More about pets in Cape May
- For your safety, please don’t walk or climb on the jetties
- Fires and bonfires are not permitted
- No portable device may be used for cooking
- No overnight camping or permanent structures
- Rough sports are not permitted
- Alcohol is prohibited
Swimming is welcome. For your safety, the Beach Patrol recommends not swimming past chest-deep water (areas may be marked with flags). Ocean conditions may change quickly. Please check with the nearest lifeguard stand before you attempt distance swimming.
Skimboarding is allowed with the permission of the lifeguards
Volleyball nets are available at Steger Beach (Beach Ave & Jackson St) and at 2nd Avenue Beach (2nd Avenue & Beach Ave). They’re located on the beach, so you will need a beach tag to play, and please BYOB (bring your own ball).
Surfing is permitted at Poverty Beach (Wilmington Avenue), The Cove, Surfing Beach (Gurney Street), and South Queen (Queen Street)
Fishing is permitted along the one-quarter mile stretch east of the Brooklyn Ave storm pipe. Fishing is prohibited at all other beaches during guarded hours.
Kayaking is permitted past the bathing zone. You can launch east of Poverty Beach and west of The Cove stand.
Beach tags are required from 10am – 5pm, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day, for everyone 12 and older. Beach tags are available at the Beach Tag Office and at all beach entrances during the summer. The City accepts cash or checks only, and rates are per person. Children 11 & under are free. Call the Beach Tag Office with questions at 609-884-9522.
2018 Beach Tag Rates
|Seasonal Tag (pre-season rate)||$20.00 if purchased from December 1, 2017 through April 2, 2018. Pre-season tags can be purchased at City Hall Tax Office.|
|Seasonal Tag||$28.00 if purchased from April 3, 2018 through Labor Day|
|Weekly Tag (Saturday to Saturday, 8-days)||$18.00|
|3-day Tag (any three consecutive days)||$12.00|
|Active Military & Veterans||Free (see details). Must be picked up in person at the Beach Tag Office at 704 Beach Ave.|
Seasonal beach tags are also available by mail. A maximum of five (5) seasonal tags per individual may be purchased. Call the City at 609-884-9540 for information, but please know they won’t let you order by phone.
Please note: The City of Cape May prohibits the transferring of seasonal beach tags. This means that no one is allowed to give you a tag to use on a temporary basis, be it an individual or a commercial establishment. It is also illegal to “rent” or pay a deposit fee for the use of a seasonal tag. In the event you are offered and use a seasonal tag that you do not own, you could be subject to the confiscation of the tag and a fine.
The Evening Flag Ceremony at Sunset Beach
The evening flag ceremony is held daily during the season (May through September). All flags flown at Sunset Beach are veteran’s casket flags that families bring with them.
What is the address of the beach?
A lot of people ask for the address of the beach so they can enter it into their GPS systems. If you navigate to 251 Beach Avenue, that will put you in front of Congress Hall, and you can’t miss the beach once you’re there!
Is there a public swimming pool in Cape May?
There are no public swimming pools in Cape May. Many hotels and motels offer this amenity, so consider this accommodation choice if a pool is on your must-have list. If you need an indoor pool, the Grand Hotel and the Wilbraham Mansion B&B offer this amenity.
Is Higbee really a nude beach?
Despite what you might hear, Higbee is not and has never been a nude beach. Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area is owned by the State of New Jersey and is subject to state laws. Because the State did not actively patrol the beach, several years ago, people took advantage of this technicality and bathed in the buff. However, local police now have the authority to arrest you — and they will arrest you — if you are found sans bathing suit. Higbee is a great place to take your dog in the off-season and a great beach for birders.