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Cape May Beaches

Cape May is a beach-lovers’ paradise

Cape May City’s beaches are family friendly, clean, and close to restrooms and food. They run approximately 2.5 miles parallel to Beach Avenue and are within walking distance from most accommodations.

Lifeguards

From July 1st through Labor Day, the Cape May Beach Patrol is on duty from 10am to 5:30pm.

Learn about beach policies

Beach Tags

Required for beachgoers 12 and up from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day during guarded hours

Get beach tag rates

Parking

Beachfront meters are in effect every day from May 1 – October 31 from 10am to 10pm.

Which beach should you pick?

Even though we give them unique names, our beaches are really one long stretch of sand. Your Cape May City beach tag is good at any beach entrance. Figuring out the name of the beach closest to your accommodation is easy. With three exceptions, they're named for the street intersecting Beach Avenue.

Cape May Beaches

  • The Cove (at the end of the promenade)
  • Broadway
  • Grant Street
  • Windsor
  • Congress Street
  • Steger Beach (Jackson Street)
  • Decatur Street
  • Jefferson Street
  • Queen Street
  • Madison
  • Philadelphia
  • Reading
  • Pittsburgh
  • Baltimore
  • Brooklyn
  • Poverty Beach (Wilmington Street)

Looking for Sunset Beach or Higbee Wildlife Management Area?

Learn about other area beaches

Activities

The following activities are permitted on Cape May City beaches.

Swimming

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

Skimboarding is allowed with the permission of the lifeguards

Volleyball

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

Surfing is permitted at Poverty Beach (Wilmington Avenue), The Cove, Surfing Beach (Gurney Street), and South Queen (Queen Street)

Fishing

During guarded hours, fishing is permitted along the quarter-mile stretch east of the Brooklyn Avenue storm pipe. Fishing is prohibited at all other beaches during guarded hours.

Kayaking

Kayaking is permitted past the bathing zone. You can launch east of Poverty Beach and west of The Cove stand.

Picnics

Food and beverages are welcome on the beaches. Just don't bring any alcohol or use any portable cooking devices. And please remove everything you bring with you.

Sand Sculpting

Create the sand sculptures of your dreams. If you dig holes, make sure they're no more than waist height of the shortest person in your group. And please fill them in before you leave the beach.

Evening flag ceremony at Sunset Beach

The flag ceremony is cancelled for 2020.

An evening flag ceremony is held at Sunset Beach daily at 7pm from Memorial Day Weekend through August, and at 6pm on Saturdays in September. All flags flown at Sunset Beach are veterans’ casket flags that families bring with them.

Visit sunsetbeachnj.com for more information

Cape May City Beach Tags

Beach tags are required for entrance to Cape May City beaches from 10am – 5pm, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day if you are 12 and older. Tags are available weekdays at City Hall Tax Office (643 Washington Street) and any beach entrance during the summer.

The rates below are per person. Children 11 & under are free. In person and by mail, the City accepts cash and checks. Once tags are purchased, they won't be refunded.

Beach Tag Type 2021 Cape May Beach Tag Rates
Seasonal beach tag
(Memorial Day - Labor Day)
$30.00
Weekly beach tag
(Saturday to Saturday, 8-days)
$20.00
3-day beach tag
(any three consecutive days)
$15.00
Daily beach tag
$6.00

Buy Cape May beach tags online

Starting in 2021, Cape May City Beach Tags are available through the VIPLY app. A convenience fee may apply. You'll need to pick up your tags in person. The City won't mail them if you purchase through the app (but you can pay with a credit card).

Learn more on VIPLY's website

Free tags for active military and veterans

The City of Cape May provides free beach tags to active military and veterans of the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and New Jersey National Guard. Proper identification (military ID) must be presented.

Active military

Free to military personnel, spouse/civil union partner, and dependent children twelve (12) years of age and older. Qualifying Active Military personnel must be present at the time of request.

More information

Veterans

Free to any individual who has served and was released through Honorable Discharge with at least 90-days active duty or released from active duty by reason of a service-incurred injury or disability.

More information

Do you have questions about beach tags?

Visit the City of Cape May's website for more information

Beach Info & Policies

  • 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.
  • 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. 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 on the beach
  • You can bring prepared food, but no portable device may be used for cooking on the beach
  • Our beaches are cleaned at night, so you can't camp overnight or create permanent structures on the sand
  • Keep the sports friendly! Rough sports aren't permitted
  • Stay hydrated, but alcohol is prohibited

Beach FAQs

Where are the closest bathrooms?

Free public restrooms are located every half-mile along the promenade in the summer.

Are there shower or locker facilites?

Cape May has outdoor showers along the promenade to wash off the sand. If you need a full shower and change, you'll need to head back to your hotel. You won't find lockers along the beachfront, so keep your personal items with you or lock them in your car.

How can I rent a cabana or beach umbrella?

See our Beach Rentals page for info on how to rent beach cabanas, umbrellas, beach chairs, surf boards, beach carts, coolers, and beach storage boxes.

Who do the beach cabanas belong to?

The signature blue cabanas and beach boxes belong to Steger Beach Service and are available for rent.

You'll also see cabanas affiliated with specific area resorts. Those are reserved for their guests.

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!

Does Cape May have a public swimming pool?

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.

Other Area Beaches

The lighthouse

Cape May Point State Park

This state park is free to the public. It's an ideal location for birding, picnics, and nature walks. Explore ponds, coastal dunes, marshes, and forest habitat. The beach is home to endangered birds, so pets are not permitted on the beach from April 1–September 15. Cape May Point State Park is also home to the Cape May Lighthouse, which you can climb for a fee. Free on-site parking. You can also rent the 60-person group picnic area year-round. Contact the state for info.

Visit the State of NJ website

Higbee Beach

Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area

Higbee Beach is a State Wildlife Management Area. Higbee is a great place to take your dog in the off-season and a great beach for birders.

Visit the State of NJ website

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach

Located at the end of Sunset Avenue, Sunset Beach is in Lower Township so you don't need a beach tag. Pets are permitted from September 16th to March 30th. Sit on the pebbly sand and comb for Cape May diamonds, but due to underwater hazards, you might want to pass on swimming. Sunset Beach is smoke free.

Sunset has free on-site parking, gift shops, food, mini golf, and is home to the SS Atlantus, an experimental concrete ship wrecked offshore.

Cape May Point beaches

Cape May Point

Cape May Point's beaches run from the State Park (Lighthouse Avenue) up to and including the Alexander Avenue Jetty. These beaches are guarded by the Cape May Point Beach Patrol. Beach tags are required from the third Saturday in June through Labor Day. CMP beach tags are only good at Cape May Point beaches. They will not accept Cape May City beach tags for entrance (and vice versa, CMP beach tags won't get you onto a Cape May City beach).

Lower Township beaches

Lower Township

Lower Township beaches include North Cape May, Villas, Cape May Beach, and Sunset Beach. They are open to the public year-round and are not guarded. Please be careful and don't swim alone. These beaches are on the Delaware Bay. Limited street parking is available.