While many folks come to Atlantic City for the glittering lights and non-stop casino action, there are others who come to get back to nature. Many people are naturalists and don’t even know it. Think about it: Did you walk the beach collecting shells as a child, or spend hours building sandcastles and listening to the call of a laughing gull?
Much of New Jersey’s coastline is protected to preserve wildlife and their habitats. At the Jersey Shore, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for birding, kayaking, fishing, and taking nature walks, among other things.
Each year millions of birds pass through Cape May on their annual migrations. One of the best places to go birding is the Cape May Bird Observatory, which is managed by the Audubon Society of New Jersey. If you’re a novice birder, have no fear – the center offers frequent tours during the summer to help you know what you’re looking at.
Another place to go birding at the Jersey Shore is the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville. It’s hard to believe you’re just a few miles from Atlantic City here, where more than 47,000 acres of southern New Jersey coastal habitats are actively protected and managed for migratory birds. Here, the Wildlife Drive and trails are open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.
On the Water
Atlantic City Cruises and Cape May Whale Watcher offer whale watching tours, a great way to get out on the water and see whales up close. Harbor seals are frequent visitors to NJ in the winter, and can sometimes be seen in the observation tank at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, where stranded or injured marine mammals are rehabilitated. The center also has an educational museum.
Another place in Atlantic City to view sea life is at the Atlantic City Aquarium at the Atlantic City Marina, which features fish and aquatic creatures of the mid-atlantic as well as those from the Mullica River, the Amazon, and Indo-Pacific, among other places. Visitors can even watch a live diver feeding show in the 25,000 gallon “Fish of the Mid-Atlantic” tank.
Most of New Jersey’s state parks or national areas are kayak friendly. You can rent a kayak or take a guided kayak tour at places such as Island Beach State Park in Barnegat Bay and Aqua Trails, a company near the Nature Center in Cape May.
Atlantic City Fishing & Dive Center offers a variety of nautical adventures, including sightseeing, fishing charters and scuba diving.
For more information on Ecotourism at the New Jersey Shore, visit New Jersey Monthly’s website.
Photos courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.