Being so close to New York and Philadelphia, it’s not surprising that New Jersey has among the busiest and most densely developed stretches of coastline in the country. It is surprising, however, that beyond the boardwalk amusements and flashy gambling casinos of Atlantic City, the New Jersey shore offers a whole lot more.

As with most of the East Coast, the “shoreline” is actually a series of barrier islands separated from the mainland by wildlife-rich estuaries; these provide fishing and birdwatching opportunities, as well as a break from the ceaseless commercial and residential development along the ocean beaches.

Bustling in summer, these beachfront communities—starting with Margate near Atlantic City, and running south through vibrant Wildwood before winding up at the dainty Victorian-era beach resort of Cape May—offer something for everyone, all within a 150-mile stretch of shoreline.

Map of the Atlantic Coast through New Jersey.
Map of the Atlantic Coast through New Jersey.