Cape May, NJ

20 Ways to Help People NOT Be a Jerk on New Jersey Beaches

Bridget Mulroy
Sunset at Cape May, New Jersey.(Ryan Stone/Unsplash)

After a week in Cape May, here are 20 things I took home with me:

  1. Remember your exit on the Parkway or Turnpike. There is nothing locals hate more than someone cutting across the highway because they’re about to miss their beach exit.
  2. Don’t complain to the toll people about the toll hikes this year – they, and the people behind you, don’t care.
  3. Remember gas is more expensive as you get closer to the beach – plan accordingly as people stopped at the side of the road will induce traffic
  4. Park straight, with enough space on BOTH sides of your vehicle. Don’t park sideways, don’t take up two spaces, and remember to pay (where applicable) or you’ll catch a ticket!
  5. Watch your kids. This goes without saying, but nothing is worse than a kid that falls behind and loses track of where their family is, or god forbid gets hurt.
  6. Think about the people around you and leave space when you set up your stuff. Nothing is worse than a stranger encroaching on your beach space.
  7. Don’t be gross. People around you are half-naked because it’s summertime. Looking once is okay, more than that is weird and subject to consequences.
  8. Don’t be gross… since there are strangers, perverts, prudes, and children around you, act accordingly. Conduct yourself in a way that won’t draw unwanted attention.
  9. Don’t be gross. Consider the things you’re bringing onto the beach, bring everything home with you. Beach litter is nasty, don’t be that person!
  10. Due to a high volume of sand, watch where you’re flinging it. Imagine a pile of sand landing on your face as you're sunbathing… don’t do that to anyone else.
  11. Wear sunblock. No one wants to go home with a cranky beach-goer who forgot to lather up.
  12. Don’t bring alcohol. Some beaches permit it but do your research before you are fined for something stupid.
  13. Don’t smoke on the beach or boardwalk. Cigarettes and marijuana are both hassle-free, but using either on the beach or boardwalk will end up in a fine you didn’t want to deal with. Anywhere else (aside from people’s residences) is fair game.
  14. Use the toilets. If you need to go… you need to go to a designated place for ‘going.’ DO NOT go in the parking lots, sand, or anywhere else that is not an actual bathroom.
  15. Use your judgment when speaking loud enough for the people around you to hear you. Say what you like, but refrain from adult language and topics if there are children present.
  16. Play games closer to the dunes than the water. People tend to set up closer to the water. Since games and beach sports will most likely spread sand, playing closer to the dunes is the best way to keep everyone happy.
  17. Don’t feed the gulls. Seagulls are a problem on most New Jersey beaches, feeding them will only attract them and draw more. Don’t do that!
  18. Don’t ignore the lifeguards. Swim in the designated areas since rip currents are a major concern this season. No one wants to be carried away by the sea this summer.
  19. Some beaches have areas blocked off for the procreation of certain birds and sea animals, don’t disturb them. If an area is guarded and you see signs about wildlife preservation, leave the area alone as it’s not a space for you to hang out or set up your beach chair.
  20. Do your research on the beach you’re going to since different beaches have different rules. It sucks when you get a whole spread of food only to find out you can’t bring food on the beach or arriving at a beach a finding out beach pass prices have jumped up and you didn’t bring enough cash – come prepared!

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Hi, I’m Bridget.

New York

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