A long expanse of clean sand with waves of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and lines of motels on the other, it’s a beautiful place to spend the day soaking in sun, playing in sand, and enjoying the water. Plus, if you are lucky you’ll see a little wildlife as well.
The nice thing about staying in Wildwood is almost every hotel is walking distance to the beach. In addition, all the beaches are free to access. The down side, the beach is a very wide beach. It’s quite a distance to trek with all your stuff from the beach entrance to a good spot near the water’s edge. We didn’t have a beach wagon, but we did have seven people who could carry stuff (yes, we included the children, they need to pull their weight), so we managed to lug the cooler, chairs, umbrellas, and beach bags all the way to a nice spot on the waters edge.
Settled on the beach, the water certainly had waves, but we were lucky enough to be there on a day without too much of a rip tide (something to watch out for on the Jersey shore). We were also near lifeguards, so we felt comfortable with the kids going out and jumping in the waves. It has a long shelf so the kids could go out a little distance and still be in an area I considered a safe depth for their swim levels. They loved playing in the water, jumping the waves and enjoying the sun. I loved sitting in a chair, watching the water and the kids, and the feeling of calm and peace that always overcomes me on the beach, my happy place.
One of the delights of the trip was the surprise wildlife sightings. I always end up at the beach on the weekends, when the crowds are the heaviest, so honestly I’ve rarely seen wildlife (or noticed it in the crowd) at the beach. Sure, the occasional jelly fish, but trust me, you don’t want to see those! The first surprise was the dolphins. I saw a few people standing on the shore pointing. As I looked up I saw a flock of birds. I remembered this from our whale watching trip (link to Monterrey whale watching) so I stood up. Sure enough, in the distance, you began to see the fins of dolphins pop out of the water as they were feeding off shore. I was surprised at how close they were! Then later, people started pointing at the water near shore and moving out of the way. Sure enough, there was a pool of Atlantic Sting Rays! There were about 10 of them, swimming together. They were so close to shore, people had to move from where they were playing in the water to avoid them. I was so surprised, and excited to see an animal I’ve only ever seen in an aquarium.
There was only one downside to the beach. Sand gnats. I noticed that in the wet sand, there were tons of sand gnats. They didn’t bit (but the occasional horsefly did come by and those bites hurt) but they covered everything that wasn’t moving, which was annoying. Once the tide went out and our spot dried out, the gnats disappeared. But I would suggest sitting in a spot that is not so close the sand is still wet to avoid these guys.
After a few hours soaking in sun and playing in the surf, it was time to head back. So we packed up all the chairs, umbrellas, cooler, beach bags, and toys to head back to the hotel. But we looked back fondly at the water and looked forward to hopefully more of these trips with my dad in much better health.
Check out the rest of our adventures in our Wildwood Weekend Get-a-Way