Long Beach Island is a great destination for a day trip down the Jersey Shore in the summer, for a week of vacation, or for a cost-effective destination spring weekend getaway. We like to go there for a long weekend every June and we always have a blast during our 3-days mini-vacations to Beach Haven LBI. There are many great communities on the island, but we like Beach Haven because it has lots of activities, without being extremely crowded.
So here is a selection of our favorite things to do in Beach Haven:
1. The LBI beaches are the main reason most people come there, and they’re among our favorite at the Jersey Shore. They’re not as crowded as the boardwalk beaches in other towns, and they’re free until the last weekend of June. The views with the big mansions behind the dunes are great, and you don’t have to walk a lot with your beach cart and kids in tow. The ocean can be very clear here when it’s calm, sometimes it reminds me of the Caribbean with the crystal clear green-ish waters. There’s no big drop, you can walk over 100 feet from the shore and still have water below your waist. Often at low tide you’ll have sand bars away from the beach.
2. Rent a vacation home. Most people vacationing in LBI would rent a vacation home (best source is www.ShoreVacations.com). Be aware that during the summer season houses are only available for a full-week Saturday-to-Saturday rental. If going in a group or larger family, the best way to enjoy the beach is in one of the big rental homes lining up the waterfront (or the bay, if you bring a boat). It gets much cheaper than getting a bunch of rooms at a hotel, and if you’re OK with staying a block away from the beach the prices go down significantly, plus you’re more likely to find a house with a pool.
3. Coral Seas is our favorite LBI motel, and it’s always been a great host. It’s nice and very clean, situated right on the beach so you can walk from the door right on to the sand. There’s no on-site restaurant, but you can get take-out food and some beer or wine and just lunch or dine by the pool. The pool is big and clear, and it’s pretty warm in June. The staff is friendly and helpful, providing a great experience. Coral Seas is also more moderately prices than the other oceanfront motels. And as a tip, ask for a first-floor room on the beach side. They’re not prices as ocean-view rooms, but you have a great patio for relaxing, eating or drinking.
4. Sea Shell resort is great for a lunch by the pool. No visit to Beach Haven is complete for us without relaxing outside at the Sea Shell! This is one of the only beach-side bars on LBI and it’s by far the best one, the only place you can really feel like you’re on an exotic vacation at the beach. You can sit next to the pool or under the tiki bar, drink cold beers, and try some delicious summer fare (my favorite are the fish tacos – always great taste).
5. Ship Bottom Brewery just opened in the Bay Village in 2016, and as a craft beers connoisseur I have to admit they’re a hidden gem of the Jersey Shore. It’s rare to go into a small local brewery and like all their beers! My favorite was the Stupid Paddle Boat, an easy session IPA. The Shack IPA was also good, with a little bit more kick at 7.6 ABV. Beach Patrol was one of the rare hefeweizens that I can really enjoy. And Cerveza la Playa is great for those who don’t like richer beers. Their location is also pretty cool and the staff is awesome!
6. Fantasy Island Amusement Park is a small park geared towards the little ones, right in the middle of the town. They have the usual assortment of kiddie rides, with a few more thrills for older kids. Free entrance but you pay for each ride, and there’s a very summery vibe due to the proximity to the beach. Can be a relaxing place to have some ice cream while the kids jump from ride to ride. Sometimes in June they’d have $5 unlimited rides on Friday, or happy hours on Saturday (kiddie rides are 1 token between 6-7pm).
7. Spice It Up is a relatively new store in Bay Village, offering an impressive line-up of hot sauces as well as rubs, spices & herbs, BBQ sauces, oils, vinegars and other condiments. They have a very helpful staff that will make recommendations and suggest samples to try before deciding what you want to buy. Spice It Up also has its own deli where you can get some delicious sandwiches.
8. Chicken or the Egg – there’s no breakfast place more famous on the Island. They have a variety of egg-based plates, from omelettes to sandwiches, or french toast and pancakes covered in eggs, and they are all delicious. The waiting for a table can be quite long but you can also take out and head back to your hotel or rental home (or use the No Wait app for seating). And don’t forget to come back for some fried chicken for lunch, or even a late-night stop when coming back from a bar.
9. Bagel Shack. If you prefer to stay in, at your rental home or hotel, the Shack is a great breakfast alternative. Their bagels are fresh and tasty, and the breakfast sandwiches (especially the pork roll, egg & cheese) are outstanding. Keep in mind that lines can be long in the morning (because everyone knows they’re so good), but you can call ahead to order.
10. Barry’s Do Me A Flavor is great for a late food run. It’s a nice eatery both for take-out and sit-in (or sit-out on the patio). You’ll have the entire assortment of sandwiches and finger food but I liked the quite unique (and very heavy, some would say unhealthy) Philly Hamburger Cheesesteak, which is the usual steak with an added burger patty. And as the name suggests, Barry’s has dozens of delicious ice cream flavors.
Other notable mentions are: The Sand Bar at the Engleside Inn, the only other beach-side bar / restaurant in town; Sweet Haven Candy Shop – my kids’ (and every kid’s) favorite candy store; and Mr. Tee’s Putt & Play, a fun mini golf center with 2 courses.
If you’re looking to rent a house at the shore, check out ShoreVacations.com, Jersey Shore’s biggest vacation rentals resource. It lists hundreds of rental homes and condos from Sandy Hook all the way down to Cape May (including Belmar, Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Ocean City, Long Beach Island, Atlantic City or the Wildwoods). It’s a one-stop website for planning your Jersey Shore vacation, featuring beach information, weather updates and more! And of course, it has a full list of all the Jersey Shore events this year.