Trail Guides
Sunset Beach

Sunset Drive, Cape May Point, NJ 08212
Phone: (609) 628-2436

OWNER:  NJ Department of Environmental Protection

DIRECTIONS:  Turn Right out of the State Park lot onto Lighthouse Ave. After 0.6 miles turn Left onto Sunset Blvd. Follow Sunset Blvd. to end, at Sunset Beach.   Map
Gift ShopInformation
ACCESS AND PARKING:  Sunset Beach is always open, and the shops on the beach are open from 9 am to 5 pm. The restaurant on site is closed during the winter. Parking is available on site.

A CLOSER LOOK:  If you see people at Sunset Beach walking with their heads down, staring intently at the sand, they’re probably looking for “Cape May Diamonds.” These little clear quartz pebbles, about the size of a dime or smaller, are washed up onto the beach from sediment well up the Delaware River. They are polished by the waves and bottom of the bay, and are even cut and polished by local jewelry makers to achieve the sparkle of a real diamond.

Willets at Sunset Beach
Willets at Sunset BeachKevin Karlson
SITE DESCRIPTION:  To the uninitiated, the scenic view from Sunset Beach may be interrupted by the sight, just off the beach, of the surviving hulk of the S.S. Atlantus, an experimental concrete ship launched in December 1918. Local birders, however, know to look carefully, as the ship provides a great roosting place for seabirds and shorebirds. Located at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, Sunset Beach offers some of the best sea watching on the east coast. It is well worth scanning the water for half an hour at any season, and particularly after tropical storms, hurricanes, and northeast storms.

DON'T MISS:  a scan from the newly opened WWII submarine watch tower on the right soon after exiting the parking area (a small fee applies).

Winter:  Scan the bay for large concentrations of Red-throated Loon, sea ducks and Northern Gannet. Later in winter you may find Bonaparte’s Gull, Great Cormorant and Purple Sandpiper.
Spring:  Look for northbound cormorants, herons, shorebirds and waterfowl as they cross the Delaware Bay. You may also observe feeding terns, jaegers and other pelagic species.
Summer:  Sea watching is a game of patience in the summer, yet it can be very rewarding. Unusual terns and seabirds may visit the area, and you have a good chance of seeing shear-waters, jaegers, and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, seeming to tiptoe across the water’s surface.
Fall:  Northeast winds can provide spectacular flights of migrant seabirds, and the day or two after a hurricane can be very productive at Sunset Beach. Look for huge numbers of migrating Northern Ganner, terns and sea ducks.

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