Why does New Jersey charge for Beach Tags?

The ‘Jersey Shore’ is a tourist hot spot, but one that comes with a price. New Jersey beaches require one expensive accessory before your feet touch the sand - the troublesome beach badge. In the Garden State, a beach badge is as essential as your sunscreen and towel. So why is it that New Jersey is one of the only states in the union to charge to visit the beach?

The Director of Marketing at Point Pleasant Beach, Tobi Wolf says, that “in order to run the beach, we need people to pay to get on the beach. There's taxes, there's insurance, and there’s paying the lifeguards. There's cleaning the beaches. There's maintaining the beaches.”

However, after touching base with the locals of these shore towns, some feel they are being taken advantage of.

George, a resident of Belmar feels that by contributing to taxes locally, that there should be no fees to go on the beach. “I’ve spent time in Florida, and there’s not a fee for any beach. The beaches are as nice as, or even more beautiful than here. Very well maintained as well and somehow they’re able to maintain it without the extra revenue from charging people."

I spoke with an attorney and Asbury Park native who is leading the fight against beach fees. Andrew Chamberry, Esq. says that “charging people for natural resources is just patently unfair and unreasonable. There are other ways the state could provide the funding so that the people of New Jersey and other states should be able to come here and access the beach for free."

How about the fact that there are currently 15 beaches that are officially not swimmable due to water quality right now? Why should people have to pay to get on those beaches?

For the record, beach tags are far from new - they have been around for close to a century. The first ever beach tag was issued in 1929, in the town of Bradley Beach. It was shiny, made of brass and ultimately changed the course of New Jersey tourism.

So is the federal government's responsibility on all this? According to, John Weber, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager of Surf Rider Foundation, " the Federal Government is by and large paying to put a lot of the sand here through beach replenishment projects, so they do have rules that there has to be reasonable access.”

Look at the breakdown here – It could cost $50 minimum for a family of five to visit the Jersey Shore for the day. You’ll first need to pay for your parking spot, which could cost $10 for a half day. Then, your beach badges, which can average $7-10 dollars per person, then multiply that by a family of 5. That’s $50 right there, not even including attractions and cost of food!

So, is the beach badge just another tax? Well, shore town officials will tell you it's a user fee. Mayor Matt Doherty of Belmar admits, “ I can’t tell you how many requests/complaints I get from locals. If I pay taxes, why should I pay to get on the beach? It’s quite simple - It's a user fee. If you don't use it, you don't pay for it.”

As we have it, New Jersey remains the only state to still charge for individual beach tags. By the looks of it, it doesn’t seem that it’s stopping anybody from visiting the Jersey Shore.

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