This is not about one of those meaningless, random national surveys; The kind that names the town with the best beach, when they really don't have the best beach, they're just a really cool town with other great attributes.

No, this is about REAL lifelong New Jersey residents sharing their opinion on their go-to beach town.

Most of us grow up going to one beach for most of our childhood. Whether it's just day trips with the family or that glorious weeklong stay at a motel or beach house. The real lucky ones got to stay at "the shore" for the whole summer.

When you're old enough to drive to the shore or the beach, you probably pick another town with a more edgy vibe. Think your Wildwoods, Seaside Heights, Atlantic City, Point Pleasant maybe.

Then if you raise a family, you switch to a more family-friendly town like Ocean City, Manasquan, Spring Lake or Cape May.

White Sand to the Beach
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Life in New Jersey seems to have three or four stages of your beach preference. Not so fast. We found that some people have one town and only one town that means "going down the shore" for their whole life.

Here is some of what we heard.

One caller grew up going to Spring Lake, now visits Seaside Park.

Then we heard from someone who grew up frequenting Point Pleasant, before spending their teenage years in Asbury Park, and later Lavallette.

Other beach preference changes included:

  • Point Pleasant as a kid, Sandy Hook (bay side) now
  • Train rides to Ocean Grove from Bayonne as a kid, followed by teenage years in Seaside Heights, but now Ortley Beach.
  • Sandy Hook, followed by Belmar, then Wildwood, and finally Cape May. A slow and steady migration down the coastline.
  • Wildwood, up to LBI, then back down to Ocean City and Wildwood Crest, before settling on Ventnor.

We also heard from a few callers who made the switch but couldn't stay away from the place that made them all in love with the shore in the first place.

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One caller grew up going to Avalon, before migrating to Mantoloking. Now they're back in Avalon.

Soon after we heard from a woman who was taken to Manasquan as a child, but switched it up by going to Sea Girt in her teens. Now she prefers the place where it all started, Manasquan.

Just to throw a fly in the ointment of my "three or four stages of beach preference" theory, we then heard from people who decided to make Sea Isle City, Asbury Park, and Brick Beach their lifelong shore destinations.

It's interesting to see how shore town preferences change over a lifetime and for some it doesn't. Some of it has to do with geography. Whatever town is a straight-line due east of you is where your family took you and where you're most comfortable.

I've been fortunate enough to have visited every shore town in New Jersey. The best part is they all have distinct personalities, even though some of them are right next to each other.

Asbury Park, Loch Arbour, Allenhurst, and Deal come to mind.

This summer close your eyes and put your finger on the map of the Jersey Shore, then go to the town you land on. You will thank me.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.

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New Jersey's least populated municipalities, according to the 2020 Census. This list excludes Pine Valley, which would have been the third-smallest with 21 residents but voted to merge into Pine Hill at the start of 2022.