15 Pawfect Dog-Friendly Pup-Popular Beaches in Manasquan, NJ

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With a population of under 6,000, Manasquan is not a well-known tourist city by any means, and you will not find people flocking to the beaches here all year long with below-freezing temperatures and lots of snow in the winter. However, during the summer and even the spring and fall, the beaches of Manasquan, New Jersey, are picturesque and perfect for a walk with your fur baby. After all, it is located along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. 

There are more than two dozen beaches along the ocean in and around Manasquan, but some of them do not allow dogs on the sand. But we did some searching and found quite a few that do let your fur baby have fun on the beach with you. From Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area to the beaches in Sea Bright, we found 15 of the top pup-popular beaches in Manasquan, New Jersey, for you and your canine companion to visit. 

Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area Beach

Between Crabtown Creek, Deep Creek, the Manasquan River, and the Ocean, you can find Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area right in Manasquan. This 55-acre park and beach allow dogs on the eastern end of the beach, but they must be leashed at all times. Although you will notice that most people do not follow that rule, especially the locals. However, there are fines for those who get caught. And you need to bring doggie bags to pick up after them because the park does not supply any. 

Besides the beaches, you and your fur buddy can also go boating on a kayak, canoe, or row boat. Fishing boats are allowed on the waters here, too, and there are boat launches. There are also restrooms, water fountains, and plenty of fishing spots. Everyone over 16 years of age needs a New Jersey fishing license to fish. Also, remember that the whole western end of the beach is a dog-free zone. There are signs alerting you where the no-dog section begins. 

Gull Island Beach

Famous for its bird community, Gull Island Beach allows pups on a leash as long as they are well-behaved. You will find this picturesque island in the Manasquan River right across from Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area. The island boasts almost 50 acres and is the perfect spot to have a picnic with your pup while you watch the birds enjoy their waterfront habitat. Just please keep your fur baby from getting too close to any of the wildlife or their nesting areas. 

Parking for Gull Island is located at Point Pleasant across from the island, and you can take a ferry, rent a boat, or hire a service to get you across if you do not have your own boat. The water is almost always calm and clear, so you and your pup will find swimming spots all over the island. Fishing and diving are also popular here, as well as picnicking. 

Asbury Park Dog Beach

Asbury Park Dog Beach, also known as the 8th Avenue Dog Beach in Asbury Park, is just eight miles to the north of Manasquan. The dog beach section at the northern end of the beach is an off-leach doggie haven from 6 PM until 8:30 AM from May 15th until September 15th, and the rest of the year, they are welcome all the time. The golden sand and clear blue water are the perfect way to spend a summer day with your canine companion. 

Also, during the off-season from September until May, you and your pup can enjoy the boardwalk. However, he has to stay on a leash at all times here. One of the highlights on the boardwalks for pup parents is the Wonder Bar, which has Yappy Hour on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, where pups can run off-leash in a fenced area with sand, toys, and pools. Just be sure to keep an eye on your pup at all times. 

Thompson Park

The Park System Headquarters is located in the 667-acre Thompson Park, which was opened in 1968 with a donation of 215 acres from the estate of Geraldine Thompson, who owned the famous 1800s horse estate, Brookdale Farm. Here you will find numerous historic buildings as well as seven trails, the 21-acre Marlu Lake, and wildflower fields. You can fish for perch, bluegills, bass, and other freshwater fish here but everyone over 16 needs a license. 

There is an off-leash dog park here as well as a swimming beach on the river and plenty of other fun to get into. The dog park is in the northeast section of the park across from the Activity Barn. Let your fur baby off the leash so he can run free with the other dogs here. Then you can take him on one of the trails or have a meal at one of the picnic areas. 

Sandy Hook/Gateway National Park Beach

Sandy Hook/Gateway National Park is a huge 27,000-acre island that is spread over two states; New Jersey and New York. But the Sandy Hook section is where you want to go. You can bring your pup to the park with you to play on one of the beaches on the bay side all year long, but from March 15th until Labor Day, it is a no-dog zone because of the piping plover season. Horseshoe Cove and Plum Island are both popular with pet parents. 

Your pooch has to remain on a leash the whole time you are there, and bring your own puppy poo bags to pick up whatever he drops. You and your fur buddy are welcome on the trails all over the island, but keep his leash short and do not let him aggravate the wildlife. Fishing, kayaking, and kiteboarding are some popular sports here, and you can find many kayak and boat rental shops as well as eateries and souvenir shops. 

Manasquan Reservoir Park

With more than 1,200 acres, including a 770-acre lake, woods, and wetlands, you and your furry family member are welcome to play in Manasquan Reservoir Park all year long. It is just 10 minutes inland from Manasquan in Howell Township and features all sorts of activities to enjoy, like hiking, biking, boating, swimming, and fishing. You can explore the 5.1-mile perimeter trail to get the lay of the land before choosing what you want to do, or try the half-mile Bracken Trail to learn more about flora and fauna of the park. 

You will have to keep your dog on a leash and pick up after him so do not forget to bring some doggie bags. There is plenty to do on and off-land, including renting a boat or kayak, or you can even enjoy a boat tour during the summer season. There are also numerous picnic areas with tables and barbecue grills where you can enjoy a meal with your fur baby. 

Island Beach State Park

Your canine companion is welcome at Island Beach State Park but has to be on a leash with a maximum length of six feet at all times. The only place they are not allowed is the designated swimming beach during the summer, but there are waterfront beaches all over the island where you and your pup can play in and out of the water. The barrier island is located between the ocean and Barnegat Bay, with over 3,000 acres of dunes about 20 minutes down the beach from Manasquan.

Dogs are not allowed on the Tidal Pond Trail, but there are 11 other trails where you and Fido can explore all along the shore, or you can rent a kayak or canoe to check out the water trails. There are 10 miles of beachfront on both the ocean where you can swim, fish, and play on the sand with your little buddy. 

Sea Girt Beach

Right in Manasquan, the beautiful white-sand Sea Girt Beach is dog-friendly from October 1st through May 14th as you keep your fur puppy on a leash and bring doggie bags to pick up after him. On this one-mile stretch of sand, you and your pup get a stunning view of the ocean as well as the Historic Sea Girt Lighthouse while you enjoy the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean. From October through March, it is typically way too cold to swim, but you and your pup can play on the beach anyway. 

An important note is that there are several endangered and rare species on this beach, including the piping plover, least tern, American oystercatcher, osprey, and bald eagle. You will need to be mindful of this and never let your canine companion get too close to any of these or their nesting areas. Also, be aware of the sea breach amaranth, which is a federally threatened plant that grows here. 

Divine Park Beach

Just up the beach about a mile, located on Spring Lake, Divine Park Beach is full of flora and fauna, as well as a waterfront to enjoy with your leashed fur puppy. The 16-acre lake takes up most of the park and has an average depth of just five feet. It is a spring-fed lake, so it is crystal clear and very cold year-round. It is okay if your fur puppy sniffs around the bank and gets his paws wet, but it is probably too cold for him to swim. 

You can take a long nature walk around the lake to see all the different trees like the white oak, sassafras, catalpa, persimmon, chestnut, and locust trees. The birds here are also quite special. You will see many types of water birds, like the great blue heron, ring-billed gull, sparrows, mallards, mute swans, and geese. Make sure you keep your fur baby on a leash at all times and pick up anything he drops.

Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park

You can find Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park about 10 minutes up the beach, a little further up from Asbury Park Beach. This park allows you to bring your friendly, leashed fur baby to play from November 1st until April 1st. Although it is not often warm enough to swim during these months, you and your pup are welcome to fish and play in the sand, have a picnic, or build a sandcastle. It is the perfect place for a peaceful walk along the shore. 

While you are walking, you can often find some gorgeous shells and rocks that you may want to take home with you. While there is no law saying you cannot do this, we must remember that the more we take home, the less remains there to be seen by other visitors. Instead, just take photos. It is a nice beach for selfies, and there are restrooms, water fountains, and eateries nearby. 

Sea Bright Beach

Just a few miles up the coast, Sea Bright Beach is one of the best beaches in the area, with access to both the ocean as well as Long Branch Bay. Between Labor Day and March 14th, you and your fur baby are welcome to enjoy the sand and the surf at any of the beach sites. As long as you keep him on a leash the whole time you are there, your pooch is allowed to swim, dig in the sand, and run around and play. Be sure to bring some puppy poo bags to clean up after him. 

This is a large beach, but it gets very crowded because it is so popular with the locals as well as visitors. However, during the months that dogs are allowed, the park is not as crowded, and you will find it pleasantly peaceful and serene. Besides the beach, there is a marina, a bait shop, and a few eateries here. 

Riverfront Park Beach

Located less than five miles from downtown Manasquan along the Manasquan River, the Riverfront Park Beach allows pups to join their pup parents as long as they are leashed at all times. You may not expect such a sandy beach on the river but that is what you get here. So, who needs the ocean when you have such a nice beach right on the riverfront? There are even some picnic tables and benches along the sand and a sidewalk so the beach is accessible to all. 

The park also has picnic areas with tables and barbecue grills, several walking trails, playgrounds, and boat launches for kayaks and canoes. You are welcome to fish with your fur buddy as well, but you will need a New Jersey fishing license for anyone over the age of 16. Also, please bring plenty of doggie bags to pick up after your pup while you are here. 

Belmar Beach

A little bit further north up the sand, you will find Belmar Beach, which spreads over two miles. Although it seems like one large beach, these are actually several beaches joined together along the Atlantic Ocean between Spring Lake Beach and Avon-by-the-Sea. At 3rd Avenue Beach, they offer a surf camp for kids, while other beaches are geared more toward kayaking and boogie boarding. Some of them are more popular for their volleyball courts, and others are dedicated to children’s activities. 

During the summer, you will often be able to find food trucks here as well as several concession stands or you can visit one of the nearby eateries. Just be sure to ask before bringing your fur puppy inside any establishment. Or you can bring your own food and share a meal with your canine companion at one of the many picnic tables. It the tables are full, just stretch out on the sand and eat with a view. 

Shark River Park Beach

Located right behind Belmar, Shark River Park has almost a thousand acres of trails for fishing, swimming, boating, and playing. It is one of the first parks in the system, opened in 1960, and features both the river as well as several ponds, lakes, and creeks to explore and enjoy with your fur baby as long as he is on a leash at all times. During the winter, you will even see many of the locals’ ice skating on the pond. 

Fishing is great, no matter whether you are looking for river trout or trying to catch some bluegill or bass in the pond. Just be sure you have a New Jersey fishing license. There are playgrounds here as well as a horseshoe field, shuffleboard, and picnic tables. If you want to get some exercise, try one of the six trails, including the 20-station fitness trail and a two-mile Hidden Creek trail. 

Ocean Grove Beach

Stretching from Fletcher Lake to Wesley Lake, Ocean Grove Beach is in the center of the Jersey Shore, with Atlantic City to the south and Sandy Hook to the north. If you want to swim or fish in saltwater, there is over a mile of sand on the ocean. Or you can enjoy Fletcher Lake with its playgrounds, shuffleboard, and picnic tables. Wesley Lake also has some nice spots for water activities. But most people come for the ocean. 

Ocean Grove is a small village along the shore with quaint boutiques, small cafes, and a variety of shops to peruse. However, be sure to ask permission before bringing your dog inside anywhere. You will need to keep him on a leash no matter where you go and bring plenty of puppy poo baggies to pick up anything he drops. The boardwalk is also a lively place, especially during the summer. 

The Final Woof

After spending the day on the beach, you and your fur baby will likely be hungry. Stop by one of the dog-friendly eateries in town, like Riverside Cafe on First Avenue, for a burger and fries, chicken, or seafood. Surf Taco on Parker Avenue also caters to pups on their outdoor patio. Want to make something special to remember this trip forever? Stop at Hot Sand Glass Studio on the Jersey Shore and make a Hot Paws souvenir with your fur baby’s paw print. If you want to do some shopping with your dog, The Hungry Puppy has its own dog park on Route 33, where your canine companion can have some fun every day except Monday. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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