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May 23, 2016

2016 Jersey Shore beach guide: Ocean City

Travel Vacations
ocean city lifeguard Wayne Parry/AP

A lifeguard works out aboard his rowboat as beachgoers play on the sand in Ocean City, New Jersey, in a photo taken Aug. 29, 2012.

Ocean City’s history dates back to the 1700s when a whaler named John Peck first used the island to store his freshly caught whales. It was not until 1879 – when four Methodist ministers purchased what had become known as Peck’s Beach and created a Christian seaside resort – that the remote coastal outpost began to evolve into the popular summer destination it is known as today.

Vestiges of Ocean City’s conservative religious roots remain. For example, ordinances still prohibit the sale or public consumption of alcohol in the town, which the website for the city’s tourism bureau promotes as a marketable attraction, as much as the city’s famous boardwalk and 8 miles of beaches.

The alcohol-free status helps to enhance the family-friendly environment that sets OCNJ apart from resort towns filled with nightclubs and casinos. If your goal for a family vacation is fun and relaxation, Ocean City is the perfect alternative.

Bucking the Jersey Shore, party-town trend has worked. In the summer, counting vacationers, Ocean City swells to more than 10 times its year-round population — some estimates place the growth at more than 20-fold.

Beach tags:

Yes, they have been required in Ocean City since 1976. In 2016, beach tag season runs from June 4 to Sept. 5 for all beachgoers ages 12 and older. There are several ways to purchase a beach tag. Seasonal tags cost $25 — although those purchased now through May 31 qualify for a $5 discount — and can be purchased online here or via mail by completing this form. There is a $5 shipping charge.

Beach tags may also be purchased in person at the locations and during the specified hours listed here.

Active military members and veterans qualify for free tags with proper identification. For additional information, call 609-399-6111.

Weekly and daily beach tags will become available once the season begins. In 2016, they will cost $10 for the week and $5 for the day.

Lifeguard hours:

The Ocean City Beach Patrol begins its full-time seasonal service the last week of June through Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 5).

Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m to 5 p.m on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. A limited number of beaches are guarded during the offseason.

For additional information about guarded beaches, check the Ocean City Beach Patrol website, call 609-525-9201 or 609-525-9200 or tune to 1620 AM on the radio or The Ocean City Government Access Channel 97 on TV.

Beach rules:

Swimming is only allowed at guarded beaches. Dogs are not permitted on the beach except between Oct. 1 and April 30 and must be on a leash.

There are three guarded beaches where surfing is permitted in Ocean City: Waverly Boulevard, Seventh Street and 16th Street. Surfing is permitted at all beaches either before or after lifeguards are on duty.

You do not need a license to fish in the salt water surrounding New Jersey. Surf fishing is permitted anytime on unguarded beaches, as well as in Corson’s Inlet State Park. Fishing is permitted on guarded beaches any time before or after lifeguards are on duty.

Public parking:

Many Ocean City streets offer metered parking. Parking meters are in effect from May 1 through Oct. 31, and the cost and time during which motorists must feed the meters depend on location. Information about cost and time is displayed on the meters, and some parking meters accept credit cards for payment.

There are city-operated lots on Fifth Street, Eighth Street, Ninth Street, 14th Street and Moorlyn Terrace, in addition to various privately owned lots.


One of Ocean City’s most popular events of the summer is Night in Venice. In 2016, the annual boat parade and bayfront celebration will take place July 16.

Find a complete calendar of Ocean City summer 2016 events here.

Also check out the blog of Mark Soifer for the latest happenings. 

More information:

Visit Ocean City, N.J. tourism website | Ocean City municipal website | Download the 2016 Ocean City Visitors Guide here.