Nothing speaks to the heart like the beach where we’ve grown up or spent many years of our life. It becomes something more than just a place to cool off on hot summer days. It is a place that soothes our souls, a place full of memories of picnics, time together with friends and family, and time spent dreaming alone. This week Lisa Fantino from Wanderlust Women Travel has stopped by to share with us about her favorite beach, Long Beach Island in New Jersey.
I adore che bella vita in Italia. Don’t get me wrong. Yet, when it comes to beaches, my heart belongs to Long Beach Island in New Jersey. It has been the site of so many great events and great recuperations in my life that it would be silly for me to even think that there is any other beach like home.
LBI, or Exit 63 (on the Garden State Parkway) as locals refer to it, is a 19 mile stretch of white sand, crashing waves and bliss for this solo traveler. I discovered this treasure during my college days and have relished every moment on it since then.
The Old Barnegat Lighthouse stands watch over the northern end of the island and the closer one gets to the bird sanctuary at the southern end, the closer the lights of Atlantic City come into view. It’s the big city which seems so close but is thankfully far away.
During the summer it can take 3 hours to canvas the Boulevard. Families crowd the amusement arcade of Bay Village or the mini-golf course, while everyone from 21+ hits the bar scene. The strip is lined with the old haunts that never die like The Ketch, Nardis and of course, rock ‘n’ roll’s finest, Joe Pops.
LBI is the Jersey Shore at its best and not at its worst as some recent entertainment references might lead you to believe. However, I avoid LBI like the plague between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Many people think I’m crazy because the summer is all about your favorite beach but not in this case. I wait until the tourists and daytrippers have left the clean white sand behind and all of the traffic lights along the Boulevard have gone from a steady stream of brake light red to a flashing mellow yellow.
Off-season LBI is about autumn thunder and lightning storms on the beach, as the bolts light up the night sky and the waves rock the stilt houses. It’s all about shooting stars so close you can almost reach out and touch them. LBI in the fall is about watching the seagulls stream across the turning leaves at Barnegat Light, where Victorian mansions still dot the sparsely populated end of the island. In winter, there is nothing prettier than watching New Years Eve fireworks sparkle the horizon as snow blankets the beach. In spring, you dust yourself off and watch the island, long closeted for the cold winter, come back to life, as the shops and restaurants come back one by one.
LBI is perfection – it is catching a sunset down at the bird sanctuary where evening surfers ride the waves into a wave of purple, rose and gold. I can travel the world but Long Beach Island is where I come to find myself again.
Lisa Fantino is an award-winning journalist and attorney and the creative force behind Wanderlust Women Travel and the recently launched Italy destination wedding portal, Wanderlust Weddings. She also writes travel features for MNUI Travel Insurance and blogs as Lady Litigator.