Lifeguards will provide protection along a popular stretch of beach in Island Beach State Park this summer, but access from the Barnegat Bay won’t be free, state officials announced.
The swimming area will be just north of the recently reconstructed Fisherman’s Walkway access point, which is about four miles south of the park entrance, according to a state Department of Environmental Protection release.
The area is popular for those who arrive by boat at Tices Shoal within the Barnegat Bay and enter the park from a new designated entry point on the west side of the walkway.
In addition to the new guarded area, swimming is permitted at the guarded Ocean Bathing Areas 1 and 2. Swimming at all other unguarded sections of Island Beach State Park remains prohibited.
“The safety of our park visitors is our first priority,” said Richard Boornazian, DEP Assistant Commissioner of Natural and Historic Resources. “Emergencies in unguarded sections of the park often results in compromised lifeguard resources at our main pavilion areas where swimming is permitted. So providing this additional protection at the popular A-7 section will benefit all users of the park.”
Anglers who access the beach via Fisherman’s Walkway will also have an area dedicated exclusively for fishing south of the swimming area. Fishing will be permitted in the swimming area when lifeguards are off-duty.
The swimming area will not impact mobile sport fishing access at A-7, but vehicles must park south of the pedestrian anglers fishing section.
“Our goal is to provide safe and equitable access to all of our visitors,” said Island Beach State Park manager Ray Bukowski. “The addition of this new swimming area will not only create a safe haven for swimmers with some of the best lifeguards at the Jersey Shore, but will also eliminate any conflicting use of distinct areas of the park.”
Summer gate entry fees ($6 New Jersey resident/$12 non-resident on weekdays; $10 New Jersey resident/$20 non-resident on weekends and holidays) will remain unchanged.
Anyone entering the park at Fisherman’s Walkway from Tices Shoal will pay a $3 walk-in fee (free for children under 3-years-old) while lifeguards are on duty. Access to the park by boat is only permitted at that location.