This is not a competition. We are not going to say which shore is better or worse, just that there is a difference.
Much of peoples' preference for what shore town you like is based on where you went as a kid. Those early shore memories or the ones you form as a teen and young adult form a deep attachment to our hearts and minds.
If you grew up from the Hamilton/Trenton area down to the Toms River area, your shore trips were generally anywhere from Island Beach State Park on north. That would include the northern half of Ocean County and all of Monmouth County beaches.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but they're rare. Our parents wanted to get us to the beach in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of whining anticipation that they could endure. So, if you grew up south of Bordentown in Burlington County down to the Manahawkin area near LBI, you went south.
We grew up in South Jersey thinking that the shore ended at LBI. Anything north of that was uncharted territory. We didn't know the names of any of the towns, nor did we even know anyone who would venture up that way. The northern half of the state went anywhere from LBI north and the southern half went from LBI to Cape May. LBI was the neutral ground.
You might find people from both parts of the state there. Both halves have towns that appeal to a variety of demographic needs. There are some loud boardwalk towns in varying degrees of family appeal, and some quiet, swanky towns with very little business and almost no overnight lodging.
One of the big differences is that I thought you ALWAYS had to cross a bridge onto a barrier island to get to any beach in New Jersey. Not so north of Pt. Pleasant, and even that is a man-made canal bridge.
The sand is different south of Long Beach Island. It's got a powderier feel. The slope of the beach gets flatter the further south you go. You can walk out 100 yards into the surf at Wildwood Crest and still the water won't be deeper than chest high.
For the most part people in New Jersey have THEIR beach in THEIR part of the state and there's no changing their habits. I've even thought of an exchange program where people from the north take people from the south for a week or weekend to THEIR beach and vice-versa.
I bet at the end of the week both sides would say, "that was nice, but next year we're going back to" (name your shore town here).
Old habits die hard, but if you ever wonder how the "other half" lives, take a weekend, and take a ride. You won't die, I promise.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis Malloy's own.