Cruising Destinations

Exploring Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May Lighthouse

Cape May Lighthouse

Cape May, America's oldest seashore resort, enchants visitors with its rich whaling and fishing heritage dating back to colonial times. Architectural gems from the late 19th century dot this National Historic Landmark, boasting the nation's largest collection of Victorian buildings. With legendary beaches, untouched dunes, and a harbor that provides safe anchorage against storms, Cape May is a picturesque destination.

Cape May Inlet

Cape May serves as a secure, all-weather passage from the Atlantic Ocean to Cape May Harbor, marking the southern end of the NJ Intracoastal Waterway. This well-protected harbor is a favored stopover for skippers bracing against the weather, heading north along the New Jersey coast, or navigating towards the Delaware Bay or the C&D Canal.

Approaching Cape May Inlet from either the NJ ICW or the Atlantic Ocean, distinct landmarks orient you to the area. A charted 641-foot tall LORAN tower located on the east side of the inlet is topped by a flashing red light. The 165-foot tall Cape May Lighthouse at the southwestern tip of the Cape has a flashing white light. Additionally, an onshore Ferris wheel, which is located at Wildwood Amusement Park on the oceanside beach north of Cape May is easily seen up to 5 miles offshore. Cape May Inlet is deep and visibly protected by substantial rock jetties on either side, making it one of the safest and best-marked inlets on the East Coast.

Cape May Harbor

Entering Cape May Harbor is straightforward. You can access the harbor from Delaware Bay through the jettied entrance to the Cape May Canal, from the NJ ICW itself on the north or through Cape May Inlet on the east. (Note access restrictions to the canal due to 55-foot vertical clearance bridges along the canal.) Ebb tides run east, both in the canal and in the inlet.

During the peak travel season when the weather and tide turn favorable you can expect an armada of yachts to pour out of Cape May Harbor in both directions to take advantage of an opportunity for a smooth passage. On the other hand it is also not uncommon to see yachts–even high-powered ones–return to Cape May after taking a pounding from the elements at work in both Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Any attempt to challenge the opposition of both wind and tide along the axis of the bay is not recommended.

Marina in Cape May, New Jersey

Dockage & Anchorage

  • Corinthian Yacht Club of Cape May (Private): Offers world-class sailing and instructional programs, with facilities including seasonal water and hot showers.
  • Utsch's Marina: A family-operated marina since 1951, providing ample amenities, a marine store, and nearby dining options.
  • South Jersey Marina: This full-service marina at the mouth of Schellenger Creek offers in-slip fueling, repair services, and upscale facilities for a comfortable stay.

Although marina slips are usually available (even during the peak of fall migration), all bets are off during Cape May's frequent fishing tournaments. Fortunately, considerable anchorage space is available along the south side of the harbor east of the U.S. Coast Guard station. Shoal-draft vessels can anchor west of the station outside the mooring field. Anchor at least 100 yards off the Coast Guard pier or you may be told to move. Anchorage depths between the buoyed channel and the shore range from 6 to 20 feet MLW. Holding is good in thick mud. You may experience early-morning reveilles and cadence calls as new recruits go through their paces at the station.

To explore a broader range of marinas and anchorages, visit Waterway Guide's Explorer for detailed listings and planning tools.

Cape May captivates with its blend of historic allure and seaside relaxation. Beyond its beaches, the town boasts a pedestrian mall, fine dining, and unique shopping, all set against a backdrop of architectural beauty.

Eager to uncover more about this cruising area? Learn more with a Waterway Guide's 2024 Northern Edition.