Seven Mile Island and Ludlam Island: A Quieter Corner of the Shore

Seven Mile Island Ludlam Island Map

Nestled between the busy, crowded boardwalks and beaches of Wildwood and Ocean City, you’ll find Seven Mile Island and Ludlam Island. These two barrier islands occupy more than 15 miles of New Jersey coastline, but they may not be what you first think of when you hear “Jersey shore.” Still, this quiet corner of the state is worth exploring for those searching for peaceful beaches and coastal wildlife. So join us as we explore these two unique islands.

The Shore in Cape May County – Not *That* Jersey Shore

When you hear the phrase “Jersey Shore,” your mind may leap more to the parties and chaos made famous by the MTV show that shares the region’s name. But as anyone who’s ever been there knows, that’s not the case in most of the 110-mile stretch. That’s particularly true in Cape May County, a quieter portion of the shore located at the state’s southern tip. Just north of the popular, well-known vacation destinations of the Wildwoods and the city of Cape May, you’ll find Seven Mile Island and Ludlam Island. These two mostly residential barrier islands are made up of four distinct communities. Each provides a much more low-key beach experience than many other options in the state.

Stone Harbor – Pop. 810 – “The Seashore at its Best”

Stone Harbor NJ Seven Mile Island

Beach Tags: Required Memorial Day through Labor Day. $6/day, $13/week, $30/season. Also accepted in Avalon.

Furthest south, Stone Harbor is located across Hereford Inlet from North Wildwood. And while only about a mile and a half of water separate the two, the vibe could not be more different. Gone are Wildwood’s doo-wop hotels, bustling boardwalk, and crowded beaches. Here instead, you’ll find some of New Jersey’s priciest homes, amazing wildlife viewing, and a much more peaceful beach experience.

Like much of the southern New Jersey shore, Stone Harbor first came to be in the mid to late 19th century. It was one of several resort destinations marketed to city dwellers in nearby Philadelphia or New York to escape to in the summer heat. These days, however, private homes dominate the community. These sprawling beach houses help make Stone Harbor the sixth most expensive zip code in the state, with a median home price of $1.2 million. Stone Harbor is also home to the serene preserved area of the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary, the only heronry sponsored by a municipality in the United States. And oh yeah, Taylor Swift is a big fan of the town, too.

Avalon – Pop. 1,236 – “Cooler By A Mile”

Avalon NJ Seven Mile Island

Beach Tags: Required Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. $6/day, $13/week, $30/season. Also accepted in Stone Harbor.

Avalon is another largely residential community with an excellent beach. There’s no obvious dividing line between here and Stone Harbor, and you’ll likely pass between one and the other without noticing while visiting Seven Mile Island. It’s even more affluent than its neighbor to the south – clocking in at New Jersey’s second most expensive community, with a $1.44 million median sales price.

Avalon’s slogan – “Cooler By A Mile” – refers to the geographic features of the area, which place the town about a mile further out into the Atlantic than fellow barrier islands in the region. The northern end borders Townsend’s Inlet, which separates Seven Mile Island from Ludlam Island. This unique location makes it an especially good spot to observe migrating birds, which is why NJ Audubon calls it a “seabird watcher’s dream come true.” The group operates a Seawatch on the island’s northeastern tip from September through December, which can see a million birds or more pass through per year!

Sea Isle City – Pop. 2,029 – “Smile…You’re In Sea Isle”

Beach Tags: Required Memorial Day through Labor Day. $5/day, $10/week, $25/season.

Sea Isle City occupies the southern and central portions of Ludlam Island. It was founded by Charles Landis, who also founded the town of Vineland in nearby Cumberland County. The town’s main thoroughfare still bears his name, Landis Avenue. With just a few hotels, Sea Isle City is more popular with locals than tourists. Still, the city boasts a humble 1.5-mile beachfront Promenade, as well as a variety of shopping and dining.

Strathmere – Pop. 158

Strathmere NJ Ludlam Island
You can buy these at The Deauville Inn.

Beach Tags: Not required – free.

References to Strathmere, on the northern end of Ludlam Island, are sometimes greeted with a confused response. After all, it’s not even technically a town – it’s part of Upper Township, a type of catch-all administrative division that governs many of the small, unincorporated communities in the northern part of Cape May County. The area was originally known as Corson’s Inlet, a name that still refers to the waters that separate Ludlam Island from Corson’s Inlet State Park and Ocean City.

At points, Strathmere is just a few hundred feet of dry land wide, depending on the tides. As a result, it’s almost entirely residential, save for a few marinas, restaurants, and small businesses, mostly toward the northern end. Closer to Sea Isle City, the homes get larger and spread out along the relatively undeveloped stretch of Commonwealth Avenue. But for those willing to make the trip, you’ll be rewarded with free beaches, a relative rarity in New Jersey.

Where Are Seven Mile Island and Ludlam Island?

Both Seven Mile and Ludlam Island are located in Cape May County, in southeastern New Jersey. The area is located approximately 75 miles from Philadelphia, 160 miles from New York City, and 150-180 miles from the Baltimore/Washington region.

Getting Around Stone Harbor/Avalon/Sea Isle/Strathmere

By Car: Getting to and from Seven Mile Island or Ludlam Island will almost certainly require a car. As with most of coastal Cape May County, the Garden State Parkway is the primary road through the region. It runs north-south, ending just north of Cape May.

Three roads lead onto Seven Mile Island – Ocean Drive to the south, Stone Harbor Boulevard in the middle, and Avalon Boulevard to the north. The latter two are easily accessed from the Garden State Parkway. Ocean Drive continues through the length of the island and crosses to Ludlam Island over Townsend’s Inlet. Ludlam Island’s main central access road is Sea Isle Boulevard, also connected to the Parkway. To the north, Bay Avenue crosses Corson’s Inlet toward Ocean City.

By Foot: Most areas of the islands themselves are walkable once you’ve arrived. Both islands are about seven miles long and range between about a quarter-mile and a half-mile wide. Still, transiting between Ludlam Island and Seven Mile Island on foot is iffy at best, due to the narrow shoulder/sidewalk on the fast-moving bridge.

Seven Mile Island Ludlam Island Bridge

Ride-hailing Services (Uber/Lyft): While other nearby parts of the Jersey Shore like Wildwood, Cape May, and Ocean City have easily accessible rides from Uber and similar car services, this is not the case on Ludlam Island or Seven Mile Island. You may face extended wait times or higher prices, or may not find a ride at all. If you’ll need to use one of these services, your best bet is to book your rides in advance, hopefully ensuring a driver will be in the area when you need them.

Top Things to Do On Seven Mile Island and Ludlam Island

While there may not be quite the action of other parts of the shore, there are still many great things to see and do on Seven Mile and Ludlam Islands.

Stone Harbor

The top attraction in this quiet community is undoubtedly the beautiful beach. Nearly three miles of quiet, sandy beaches stretch through Stone Harbor, including the protected conservation area of Stone Harbor Point. The city is also home to the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary, a small preserved area with several trails showcasing a variety of local bird habitats. Keep your eyes peeled for herons, ibis, egrets, gulls, and more birds that either call the region home or stop here while migrating.

It may be hard to pull yourself away from the beach, for those rainy days or when you need to change things up, check out the Wetlands Institute and the Stone Harbor Museum. The Wetlands Institute helps encourage the preservation of New Jersey’s coastal ecosystems, while the Stone Harbor Museum explores the history of this quaint town.

Avalon

The story is Avalon is much the same as Stone Harbor – the beach is king. This uninterrupted stretch continues from Stone Harbor, comprising the island’s remaining four miles. You may find slightly more people on the beaches here, but still a dramatically smaller amount than the neighboring Wildwoods. Avalon’s relatively undeveloped beaches also allow you to get a glimpse back into how these barrier islands looked before human development, along the Avalon Dune and Beach Trail. On a short 1.1-mile loop from 48th Street to 44th Street, you’ll travel through maritime forests, shrub forests, meadows, dunes, and beach ecosystems. The trail passes through both salt and freshwater environments, allowing for a remarkably diverse amount of wildlife and plant species.

Learn more about Avalon at the town’s free museum, located in the public library. Avalon also offers a nice strip of restaurants and shops along Dune Drive, particularly between 20th and 33rd Streets.

Sea Isle City

When you’re done enjoying the beaches, take a stroll down the 1.5-mile Promenade along the beachfront, which includes many shopping and dining options. Sea Isle City also boasts an impressive collection of dockside seafood markets and restaurants on the aptly named Fish Alley, on Park Road.

Fish Alley Sea Isle City Ludlam Island

A strip of popular bars on Landis Avenue (many clustered around the central JFK Boulevard) offers a place to grab a drink for those needing a break from the alcohol-free Ocean City a few miles north. As with many shore towns, you can also learn more about the history of how this unique town came to be at the Sea Isle City Historical Museum.

Strathmere

There’s not much happening in Strathmere. But free beaches go a long way, as other nearby towns charge $5-6 per day per person, which can get expensive over a few days. Besides that, grab some food at restaurants like the Deauville Inn or Twisties and enjoy one of the shore’s least-known communities.

Is It Worth Visiting Seven Mile Island and Ludlam Island?

While they may not have the bustling boardwalks, rowdy bars, or casino gaming of some parts of the southern New Jersey shore, Seven Mile Island and Ludlam Island are worth a visit for lovers of Jersey shore beaches. You’ll enjoy less crowded, more serene beaches and a chance to experience a small taste of what the unspoiled natural area looked like before modern development. A variety of shopping and dining options are also available, enough to satisfy all comers.

However, unless you’re renting a home or have another reason for an extended stay, the area may be best explored as day trips from other, larger home bases like Wildwood or Ocean City. This is due to both the lack of affordable, high-quality accommodations, and the relative lack of attractions and nightlife options once your day at the beach is through.

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