Crazy New Jersey Beaches

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Having been born and raised in New Jersey, I often take time to read through the Asbury Park Press feed, to have a look at what is goiong on in my homestate in the US.  And if you’re reading the Asbury Park Press, you’ll surely run into stories about the beaches of New Jersey, the subject of many a pop-culture reference, the “Jersey Shore”.

Among the things that fascinates me about the Jersey Shore in relation to the rest of the world, the issue of paying to use beaches – why should we and why shouldn’t we?

In some countries highways do not have tolls, they are paid for solely by your tax money, and that is how it is.  In many more countries, beaches are smiliar… kept clean and surpervised with the help of your tax dollars. Just as the street lights outside, the garbage collectors, the street sweepers, it is all publicly funded and accessible.

Asbury ParkYet the Jersey shore, being both a very free market American phenomenon, and also having strong roots in very extremist christian religious values (many beaches were founded by religious communities who wanted to create perfect little oasis communities following their interpretation of a book or a god), you either get communities that value free beaches and all the benefits they provide. Or you get those who believe strongly in the tradition of paying for using the beach, seeing beaches as an extra cost, a special circumstance, not to be compared with roads or garbage collection or other municipal services.  They also see beach fee’s as a way to raise money for cities and towns that are only able to make real profits a few months out of the year.

And so it goes that as you drive (and of course you have to drive in that culture) the Jersey coast, you will encounter all of this. Besides the free beaches, the cheap pay beaches and slightly more costly beaches. On all sides there are town leaders and citizens both complaining and praising.

Stepping back from that region of the world, you consider the other beaches of the US and the world. I’ve seen a decent number of places, well off and poor, and in either case you rarely hear talk of a beach as being somehow seperate from other public resources. Sure there could be private beaches belonging to hotels or clubs, I’ve seen some examples of that.  But otherwise it is a very interesting and perhaps concerning tradition in that part of the US – where people are raised to see a beach not as a public place, but as something more private or simply an extra that one must pay for.  While politicians and citizens look at access to the beach as something they can control and profit directly from.

And that is just one piece of the tattered and beloved Jersey shore puzzle.  I think I’ll go give it a visit next week.  My flight leaves in a few hours.

6 thoughts on “Crazy New Jersey Beaches

  1. This is all just proving something that should in essence be free to all, is now turning into a commercialised enterprise (disaster).
    Beaches, it’s like some one was looking around for something totally natural and said “here we can can make money from this!”. If it is tax money so as to keep the beaches clean I’m all for such things, but actually privatising and charging beach usage is fundamentally wrong. What about those who have no money, and the only thing for means of escape is the beach, because they can’t afford to take the kids anywhere else on holiday. For them the beach is local and gives the family something to look forward to. For this reason alone if I was living in the US I would be demonstrating against it. The way to the beach is highly commercialised. Once the beaches are Commercialised what is there left in the US for all those really low wage or no wage families to do?. Maybe they should take a leaf out of the British National Trust scheme, keeping funding there but keeping large areas of beauty also free to access. just a thought.
    This comes to me just as ridiculous as the charge by local Governments in Germany for rain water falling on your property, and a minimal amount “could” end up in the drains and the disposal there of after, this water is required to keep the drains (when it doesn’t flood) clear. For me it’s just a warning, as more and more people earn less, and can afford less due to prices raising up through the roof, and wages don’t increase. If you want to avoid an apocalypse you got to leave the populous something, otherwise Southland Tales is looking more like the immediate future minus the treer/time rip/two souls walking the earth story-line.

  2. Haha the old pay for the beach question. I think NJ towns have been charging to use the beach for a long time I remember having to wear a little beach badge when I was little.

    And I’ve been to a few the free beaches in VA and MD and they’re pretty rugged, rocky, and lack good sand, life guards and board walks etc.. Also there are something like 40mil people that live within 100 miles of the NJ shore and many of them head to the beaches each weekend in the summer and these small towns have to provided tons of additional resources to nonresidents (police, garbage collection, life guards, emt,)- Also the sand is raked every morning on most NJ beaches not is not the case most places.

    So if you have to pay a few$ to get on a beach in NJ whatever you’re on vacation. There are also a few free beaches by wildwood and AC

    1. oh ya in alot of the APP articles they mention that all the wildwoods and AC are free and the mayors are adamant of how important that is.

      I also think they should do a better job at free beaches, like you mentioned… rake the sand, etc.

  3. “I personaly belive that some people out there dont have maps…..”
    I think it’s BS that beaches are not free and you have to pay that much some, even raised the fees this summer.
    Just think about you pay $7 freeking dollars to lay on the sand under the sun and deeping your body in the solty water, all natural resourses.
    + you cannot carry drinks, food, if you carry some u have to sneak it in.

    I get the ecnomics behind cleaing the beaches and having live guard.
    But being foreigner and having a desire to travel allot, i can tell u that NJ suck. THe sand/water are not cleanest, the guards are overreacting uncompitent paranoics, and beaches have no facilities whatsover, comparing to many free beaches that personly been to around the world.
    You have to walk like quoter-half a mile somethimes to use a bathroom, or change cloth. How much is a freaking plastic change cabing cost? I am preety sure that’s dont spend nealry as much resourses and is not costing nj beach holding townships nearly as much as they are collecting in admission fees.

    i think beaches should be like an honor system, u pay whatever u can/want like Metropolitain museum in NJ.
    I think they can take some money by having meeters for parking, instead of having them free, or have some spaces with paid parking for like 10$ a day. Or they should make money of other services, like having more of places to eat right next to the beach, rent chairs and umbrellas.

    basicly paying $35 for family, to just lay under the sun, (and many people dont even lay on the sun, they seat in their own chairs. that they carries on theyr backs for like 5 blocks, after driving for 30-70 miles on their huge SUVs with 9 miles per gal @ 4.09 a gallon.):):)): well you get my frastration.

    Why state parks are not paid than?
    What if I dont have money?

    1. you know what, Stasevich, I totally agree with you. and as for your question about state parks? A lot of them DO cost money.

      I grew up in this town called New Paltz, NY, which is about 2 hours from NYC and all mountains. I grew up going swimmings in rivers, lakes, and jumping off cliffs into cold mountain water. When we wanted to hike or swim, we just pulled the car over to the side of the road, walked through the woods, and went about our day.

      Those very same places that I used to hike and swim in for free are now charging money -a LOT of money – to use. Something like $10 or more for a day… and I just don’t get it. It makes me really sad thinking that if they were charging those rates when I was growing up, there’s no way I would have been able to hike and swim in the places I did. its something that me and my friends are all outraged about, but kids growing up now in that area don’t know that it hasn’t always been like this, and they think it’s normal to pay $10 each to park their car on a dirt road and jump off some cliffs to go swimming… whereas it used to just be a normal part of life in upstate new york.

      sad.

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