Growing up in the city, the Jersey Shore was almost an exotic place for me. I didn’t make my first visit here until I was 14 years old. Of course today, we crisscross the state pretty much every day, and I’ve visited most of these Jersey Shore towns. But rarely as a tourist, until now.
Long Beach Island, or LBI, is made up of six towns: Barnegat Light, Harvey Cedars, Surf City, Ship Bottom, Long Beach Township and Beach Haven.
Our first stop is Beach Haven. At four locations on the island Jeff Santoloci and his team teach surfing to kids of all ages.
“So a typical day is we have anywhere from 10 to 60 kids that we set up with camps or lessons, and we progress them on to their next stage of their surfing,” said Santoloci, owner of LBI Surfing.
After which you can hit the links at Bill Burr’s classic Flamingo Golf on 5th and Long Beach Boulevard. For 58 years, it’s been the place to hit the mini links. Kirk Van Keuren started here as a part timer in 1977 and bought the place in 2000.
“It’s fun to see them come back, and the fact that they do enjoy it. A lot will recognize me and say, ‘You were here when I was growing up,’ and I’m like, ‘Yes, I was. I remember you,'” Van Keuren said.
Here’s a fun fact: the lighthouse here was modeled after Old Barney in Barnegat Light, and Van Keuren, who teaches high school math during the off season, designed and built the windmill himself back in the 90s.
It’s lunchtime, and that means going to Neptune Market. Albert Holl and his wife Teri have owned it since 2006.
“We use to have a sign that said, ‘Enter as strangers, leave as friends’ and we live by that credo,” Albert said.
Friendly staff and delicious food, including couscous and filet mignon, and atmosphere for days. If you’re staying in Harvey Cedars, why would you eat anywhere else?
If you’re on the boardwalk you’re near one of Morey’s Piers. There are three of them and they’ve been defining fun in the area since 1969. They’ve been family-owned for three generations now.
“Wildwood is very family oriented. You see generations of family come year after year. You see people coming down having family vacations here, having second homes here, so it’s really a wonderful thing,” said Morey’s Piers spokesperson Maggie Warner.
If I’m just trying to get a slice, that means Sam’s on the boardwalk. Anthony Zuccarello is Sam’s son-in-law.
“Sam’s started in 1957. He just left a little while ago. He’s 89 years old. He comes every day, has three slices, and has been running the operation ever since,” said Zuccarello. “Tony is Sam’s son, and that’s his son over there. I’m the son-in-law and that’s my son working here, so we have generations here working also.”
The best way to enjoy Sam’s and Morey’s, and just about everything down the shore experts say, is book early, stay away from the hotel chains, and come down on weekdays when rates are cheaper and the lines are way shorter.
So we’ll end here in Asbury Park, where my shore story began. Things in this town are changing a lot, but one thing about the shore is you’re never too far from running into someone you know.