Cape May Beach Tags
Published on June 28, 2014
First time visitors to Cape May are often surprised, and sometimes upset, that they are required to pay a fee to get on the beach. The fact is, most beaches in New Jersey charge for use of their beaches by selling little plastic tags called “Beach Tags”. The most notable exception is our neighboring island Wildwood, though they have recently been discussing implementing beach tags as well. Learn more below about Cape May beach tags and how they help our community.
When Cape May first started selling beach tags, The Queen Victoria happily provided them to our guests as an extra perk. We purchased about 70 seasonal tags at the pre-season discount price and loaned them to our guests to use during their visit. It wasn’t very expensive for us to do this, and it saved our guests a lot of money. Everybody was as happy as they could be about it except for the City of Cape May. They quickly realized that the revenue they were generating from beach tag sales was FAR below their projections based upon daily and weekly sales of tags to visitors of Cape May. It didn’t take the City long to change the rules of the game so that they could meet their original projections. They simply made the tags non-transferable and limited the purchase of discounted seasonal tags to any individual to 5 at a time. This effectively ended the era of getting free beach tags from your bed and breakfast or hotel.
Let’s face it, Beach Tags are a form of tax. Specifically, they are a “Use Tax”, which is a specific tax charged to the users of some public facility, be it a beach or a highway or a bridge (tolls aren’t much different from beach tags, actually). Most people don’t love taxes, but I personally don’t mind use taxes all that much; especially when I know that the fee I’m paying is being used to maintain and/or improve the facility I’m using. In the case of the Cape May beach, the fees are being used for lots of things that make our beach safer, beautiful and more comfortable, including:
- Nightly raking of the beach
- Life Guards Protection
- Trash Pickup
- Bathroom facilities
I suppose most of us take many of these things for granted, but of course these services cost a lot of money to provide. The beach tags fund them all. In fact, shortly after the beach tags went on sale, the residents of Cape May (probably business owners, for the most part), successfully sued the city to insure that all the fees collected were spent to support the beach.
So how much does it actually cost to go to the beach? Here is the beach tag fee schedule for 2014:
Seasonal: $28 (they were $15 if purchased prior to January 31, 2014)
Our visitors clearly have an incentive to plan longer visits, when it comes to beach tags (something I highly recommend!). For guests of The Queen Victoria who visit for long periods of time, or plan several summer visits, I highly recommend purchasing a seasonal tag and taking advantage of the pre-season discount. To do so, simply visit www.capemaycity.com and find the appropriate link for the purchase of beach tags. In 2014 there was a $3 shipping/handling charge per order (not per tag). I believe they require you to print off an order form and mail it in with a check for payment of the desired tags.