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Next-Level Vacation

Summer is just around the corner (or at least we hope it is…it can’t snow in June, can it??) and you are no doubt in planning mode for your summer vacation. As we’ve shared in previous posts, Brigantine is growing and we have some fabulous new businesses that can help take your shore vacation to the next level!

Let’s start with checking in. I can remember check-in day being the most stressful as a renter. At that time, most rentals didn’t provide sheets, towels, beach or baby gear–which meant I had much more to pack. Fortunately, we provide all of that for you! Next on my list was the dreaded Saturday grocery shopping, or as we call it down the shore, “Avoid-Acme-Day”. Fortunately, not only can your grocery shopping–from any grocery store you’d like–be completed for you but (get this) the groceries can be put away and ready for you before you even arrive! This is nothing short of a dream come true for me. The faster I can get to the beach, the better! Celeste at Shopping by the Shore can easily handle all of this for you! Simply reach out to her prior your stay and she’ll get you all set up; no membership dues required. We’ll provide her access to the condo between guests so she can unload your groceries and have you all set up before you even check in!

So many of you are celebrating this year! Everything from milestone birthdays, anniversaries and retirements. We are celebrating our daughter’s milestone birthday this year and have partnered with Kelly and Craig Photography to shoot beach family photos during our summer vacation. I’m particularly excited to have the grandparents involved and, of course, not have the stress taking the photos myself. (If you’ve ever tried to juggle children smiling in unison, hair and outfits blowing everywhere and keeping everyone happy during your own photo shoot, you get the stress. Best to leave this to the professionals.). Kelly and Craig do exceptional work and we even have a few pieces of their pop art in our condo.

Finally, we are thrilled to work with Briana Presta at Simply Me who is decorating for my daughter’s 16th birthday. She specializes in everything from extravagant balloon garlands to smaller scale in-house or single room decorations. Briana worked with me to come up with a design that completely fit our needs. She can set up your decorations prior to check-in or after you are checked in and make your week extra special. Here’s where I have to give my disclaimer that our HOA does not allow balcony or patio decorations; but there are still plenty of opportunities to decorate inside and I’d be more than happy to provide a few ideas!

If you need any help planning your vacation, we are here for you! We’ll be sure to include all this information in your welcome packet, but if you’d like to secure your spot, be sure to reach out to any of these wonderful ladies as soon as possible!

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What to expect when staying at Coastal Haven

You’ve planned, prepared, counted down, and now are just a few weeks away from your stay! How do you check in? What can you expect when you arrive? What events regularly occur on the island? What amenities do we offer? This post will give you all the details!

Two weeks before check in

  • You will receive a Welcome Packet
  • This packet will contain a Welcome Letter with driving instructions, our address, check-in time and other helpful information
  • You will also receive a few goodies from us and our local merchants
  • If you plan to book reservations in Atlantic City or a beach photo shoot with Kelly and Craig Photography, be sure to book these in advance. During the high season, they fill up fast!

Morning of Check In

  • Around 8am, we will text you your unique front door code, remind you of driving directions and also your check out time
  • We will be available via text, phone or email for any support you may need checking in
  • Typically we cannot accommodate early check-ins due to our rigorous cleaning and post cleaning inspection process. Normal check-in time is 3pm

When you arrive to the Island

  • Consider visiting the island early to stop at the Brigantine Farmer’s Market (open from 8am – 12pm Saturdays)
  • If you’d like to head to the beach early, feel free to park in the designated condo space if it’s available. If not, there is plenty of street parking. You are also welcome to use the outdoor shower behind the condo complex.

Time to check in

  • Using your unique front door condo, you’ll have entry to the condo
  • We’ll have a Welcome Gift waiting for you on the kitchen table along with a bag of items from our local vendors
  • Fresh towels will be waiting for you in each bathroom along with Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash
  • Beds will be unmade and a set of clean sheets and pillowcases will be packaged for you near each bed (we do this so you can be certain you are sleeping on fresh, clean sheets!)
  • Baby gear such as Pack N Play, baby gate, stroller and high chair will be there upon your arrival
  • All beach gear including chairs, umbrella, toys and beach cart will be located in our storage bin
  • We will supply you with a starter pack of toilet paper, paper towels and basic cleaning supplies should you need them
  • Beach badges and pool passes will be waiting for you at the entry way
  • We will send you a text message once you’re settled to make sure everything is going well

During your stay

  • Plan to check out the Brigantine Farmer’s Market each Saturday from 8am – 12pm. You’ll find everything from crafters, to fresh produce, specialty cheeses, food trucks, seafood and my personal favorite…the Crepes!
  • The Art Walk is another weekly event that occurs where local artists gather to display and sell their merchandise. Be on the look out for dates and times.
  • Occasionally, Brigantine Chamber of Commerce offers “Movies on the Beach”. Dates and movies to be announced.
  • Be sure to check out local events happening in nearby Atlantic City
  • We have an entire list of Island restaurants, activities and shopping to enjoy. Find out about them on our website.

Day of Departure

  • We’ll send you a text message the morning of your departure to answer any questions you may have
  • A short list of reminders are listed on the fridge
  • Please be sure to leave us a review after your stay and jot down a few words about your vacation in our Guest Book
  • And of course, have a safe travel home!
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What’s our why?

If you’re lucky, life presents a few passions along your journey. For me, one of those passions has included long lazy days spent at the beach with family and friends. I grew up up going to the Jersey shore each summer and vividly remember those trips as being a time of presence. We sat in our well-worn beach chairs for hours and once the lifeguards blew the final whistle for the day, headed back to the rented shore house just a few blocks from the beach. We’d shower, put on some comfy clothes, and munch on snacks and beverages while preparing dinner. After dinner, there was always either a bike ride, board games, ice cream, or any combination of the three. For me, it was the only time I felt truly present.

When I had kids of my own, I wanted them to have a similar experience of making friendships that are sacred to the shore, time to unplug with their families, and getting to feel the benefit of the sand and sea if only for a week or two each summer.

Brian and I rented Jersey “shore” houses for years. We’d comb through pictures of rentals up and down the coast; zooming in on nearly every last detail. Is it clean? Does it have the right layout? What do all the reviews say? Is there a hidden message in these reviews…is this place actually really dirty, unkept, super small, dated…..? Maybe I should look it up on Google Earth…? It’s clear I went a bit over the top trying to find the PERFECT vacation rental for our week down the shore. The process was wash, rinse, repeat for nearly six years. Sometimes we’d get our dream property only to book again the following year and find out the price increase was outside our budget. Other years, we realized the location was just not ideal for our family.

And then came one rental in 2014. I will never forget walking in to dirt, dog hair, black mold, and a ferocious odor. Our younger daughter was one at the time and had just started crawling. All I could think was not letting her touch the floor, let alone crawl on it. We immediately contacted our rental agency, who weren’t much help. Suffice to say, we spent the next seven days miserable and decided that would be our last shore house rental–we would now make a definitive plan to purchase our own.

In 2017, when we were in the early stages of shore house hunting, I remembered that sleepy shore town of Brigantine. I had briefly visited there as a teenager and didn’t know much about the island. One night while perusing my usual selection of shore towns (LBI, Ocean City, North Wildwood and sometimes even Stone Harbor–hey, a girl can dream, right?), I decided to search Brigantine real estate and was pleasantly surprised to find several homes within our budget. I’ll spare the agonizing details, but three years, over 20 houses, at least a dozen contracts, and one very patient realtor later, we finally found our beach house! That first summer I was immediately smitten. We had everything we hoped for both with the house we selected and that beautiful island.

One night, as I was riding my bike home from picking up dinner, I was overcome with the feeling that we needed to purchase another property to rent out so that others could have the same experience we had each weekend driving over the bridge to Brigantine. I just knew it had to happen.

A year after that bike ride, Brian and I found ourselves looking at three condos within the Islander in Brigantine. Selecting Coastal Haven was an easy decision. The layout and most of the furnishings fit our needs and style. We closed quickly and by March were set up for renters.

As we embarked on becoming hosts, I dove in head first and knew I wanted to create a unique and special experience for our guests that they couldn’t get at most summer rentals. My goal was to provide the extras typically reserved for high-end properties. Everything from sheets, towels, and beach gear to welcome gifts and wine and even decorations or other ‘extras’ for guests celebrating something special. I also wanted Coastal Haven to feel like ‘your’ shore house. I wanted each of our guests to open the door each summer and know they were ‘home’.

Three years in and I feel like what I envisioned has become a realty. When guests send me pictures of their kids playing on the beach or leave a note in our guest book detailing all those moments of presence they were able to experience during their trip, my heart is full. And THAT is our why.

Booming Brigantine

The charm of Brigantine has always been its ‘sleepy shore town’ vibe. Quiet and quaint–a distinct contrast from its neighbor Atlantic City. Don’t worry, Brigantine is still the same ‘sleepy shore town’ we’ve all come to know and love; but this year especially, we’re warmly welcoming some new small businesses!

One thing lacking in our island town was a variety of food and shopping. While the tried and true shops and eateries are some of our favorites, having choices definitely brings appeal! This past year alone we’ve added (or will be adding) Black Turtle Coffee, Brig Surf Shop, The Teal Tail, Mystic Lobster Rolls, and Kook Burger . I will happily admit my addiction to shopping The Teal Tail’s Tuesday night live shows (available on Facebook or their app) and cannot wait to grab a Lobster Roll from Mystic! And while Primal Surf will always be my absolute go-to for cute clothes and boards, I’m excited to visit the Brig Surf Shop to check out all the other beach merchandise I’ve yet to uncover–shore towns can NEVER have enough surf shops!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention last year’s addition, Mission Cafe. Mission is just a few blocks walk from Coastal Haven and is such a treat to visit! Obviously they have outstanding coffee; aside from that you can except a variety of healthy treats such as açaí bowls, smoothies (my favorite is the Coffee Date), wraps (which are amazing) and fresh pressed juices and pastries. There’s even an outside enclosed area where you can enjoy a peaceful breakfast or brunch.

These new locally-owned establishments are bringing new energy to the island and providing so many great options to support small businesses. It’s exciting to watch Brigantine maintain its “sleepy shore town” vibe, while also generating growth with these new businesses! If you are visiting the island soon, be sure to support our locally owned establisments!

Beyond Brigantine

When we purchased in Brigantine more than five years ago, the appeal was certainly the quiet and quaintness of the island, and the close proximity to Atlantic City, Ocean City and many other shore towns. We’ve found over time that many folks visiting Brigantine don’t often venture outside the island unless its for a quick trip to Atlantic City. While we would much rather spend our long, lazy beach days in Brigantine, it’s fun to explore the Jersey Shore once in a while.

On rainy or cold weather days, our favorite place to visit is Long Beach Island. Long Beach Island (or LBI as it’s frequently called) is roughly 50 minutes from Brigantine. Its one of the more crowded beach towns but for a day trip, it’s perfect to for a change of scenery. If you are planning a day trip to LBI, plan to eat and eat WELL! Some of the best restaurants line this 18-mile island. To be guaranteed a table, plan ahead with a reservation (a search on Yelp will yield several results). We’ve eaten at several restaurants between Surf City all the way down to Beach Haven and have not been let down yet. After filling our bellies, our next stop is either Old Barney (Long Beach Island’s light house at the northern most end of the Island) or a trip straight to Schooner’s Wharf for shopping and Fantasy Island–home to rides and the famous arcade (arguable the BEST arcade on the east coast–according to me, anyway). Another ‘must visit’ spot in LBI is the original Ron Jon Surf Shop. You can spot Ron Jon when you first drive over the bridge as a bright blue and yellow building. You’ll notice the small building just behind Ron Jon which, over 20 years ago, was the original building. Today, Ron Jon is two levels and carries everything you need from surf supplies to beach gear to apparel.

Another off-island day trip is Storybook Land. Storybook land was built in 1955 and is a 20 area family amusement park located in Egg Harbor Township and is only 23 minutes from Brigantine. This amusement part is ideal for kids from ages 2-10. Storybook land has rides, attractions and eateries. You are also welcome to pack a lunch as there are plenty of picnic tables throughout the park.

Adults and families with kids of various ages will enjoy a trip to Smithville. Smithville is located 23 minutes from Brigantine and is filled with shops, site-seeing and restaurants. This small, picturesque village makes the perfect day trip for cooler weather or cloudy beach days. Shop at the quaint stores, spend time with the kids on the carousel and train ride and cap the day off with a meal at the Smithville Inn or Lakeside Grill (reservations recommended).

While these are just a few day trips you can plan during your Brigantine stay, don’t forget about other shore towns that are just under an hour away including a trip to Cape May or Ocean City. One of the best parts about staying in Brigantine is the close proximity to so many other Jersey Shore attractions!

We are always happy to help you plan your stay. Please drop us a line if you’d like more specific recommendations!

Summer 2021 is HERE!

We are finally kicking off Summer 2021 and unlike last year, things are OPENING UP! Depending on your comfort level, you have a lot of choices. Festivals, concerts, large gatherings, indoor restaurants and bars…you name it, there is something for everyone!

Let’s start with Brigantine. Each Saturday the Farmer’s Market is the place to be. Open from 8am through 12pm at the Brigantine Elementary school, the market has over 60 vendors and numerous pop-up vendors–there is guaranteed to be something for everyone! (Our favorites are the crepes and key lime pie!) Masks are optional but be sure to bring your own bag! Brigantine is plastic bag free.

Interested in a morning beach yoga class? You’re in luck! Staying at Coastal Haven means you are just five blocks away from morning yoga. Seven days a week from 7am – 8am, beach yoga is held on 38th street beach. Not a morning person? (Me either.) Beach yoga is also held Monday and Wednesday’s from 6pm-7pm.

New to most shore towns are paddle boat bars! Both Atlantic City and Long Beach Island offer paddle boat bars (similar to those bike pedaling

bars but these are on the bay). Grab some friends (preferably friends interested in paddling) and head out for happy hour!

Outdoor festivals and concerts are also returning! Ventnor–just minutes away from Brigantine–is offering movings on the beach on most Wednesdays and Fridays as well as their annual Seafood Festival in mid-September.

Speaking of concerts, Atlantic City is back with concerts, comedy and shows! The Beer and Music Festival will kick off June 4th and 5th at Bader Field in Atlantic City. John Legend, Michael Buble and The Beach Boys are just a few others you can grab tickets to see this summer! Visit http://www.atlanticcitynj.com for the full line up.

Trying to plan your vacation but not sure what to do? Drop us an email! We are happy to help!

Springtime Activities in Brigantine

Spring has arrived–and with Memorial Day on the horizon, we’re all looking forward to the warmer weather. Luckily, Brigantine offers tons of Springtime activities and events to take part in before summer comes.

Aunt B’s Ice Cream – Aunt B’s Ice Cream is arguably the best ice cream shop in Brigantine! Opening on the first week of May, Aunt B’s is just a few short blocks away from Coastal Haven Condo. The line may be long, but it is well worth the wait!

Brigantine Bird Watching Tower – The Brigantine Bird Watching Tower is a relaxing place to enjoy beautiful views of the island. Bird-migrating season happens to be in spring, so watching the birds fly in is certainly a serene way to spend time on the island. The tower looks out onto an undisturbed beach inhabited by migrating seabirds and several marine species to watch.

Pirates Den – The Pirates Den restaurant is located on the north end of Brigantine. It offers plenty of outdoor seating, which makes it perfect for spring weather.

Sugar Factory – Another spring (or anytime) activity is the Sugar Factory, located in Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The Sugar Factory serves burgers, salads, savory crepes, pasta, and more for dinner. For dessert, it serves milkshakes, sundaes, cake, and the famous King Kong sundae that serves up to twelve people!

Lucy the Elephant – Lucy the elephant is a six-story elephant in Margate City that can be toured inside. It takes just a few minutes of driving to get to Lucy. The attraction is complete with a gift shop and plenty of dining opportunities nearby.

Top Golf – Top Golf, located in the Ocean casino in Atlantic City, is a great way to spend the day with family and friends. Each group is assigned a semi-private bay to play virtual golf and other games in front of a large screen. Be sure to reserve a bay several days in advance!

With low crowds and great weather, spring can be one of the best times to visit Brigantine!

Guest Blogger Post–Winter Shore Vacation

Back in December, we had the pleasure of hosting the family behind Reclaimed Cottage! Bethany (the owner) and her family travel the U.S. in their motor home, spending their days exploring and beautifying kitchens! Their focus on painting cabinetry along with custom woodwork, such as oven hood vents and cabinet doors, has gained them nearly 13 thousand followers on Instagram and over six years worth of customers who now have gorgeous ‘Reclaimed Cottage’ kitchens!

Bethany wrote about her winter weekend stay at Coastal Haven providing readers with a ‘day in the life of’ experience. Interested in a stay-cation at the beach? Check out Bethany’s post for inspiration, then start planning your own winter weekend getaway!

Life after ‘shore season’…

Summer at the shore–busy streets, bare feet and bathing suits as a daily uniform. Does it get any better? Believe it or not, ‘shore season’ doesn’t end in September. Fall and winter are fantastic times to visit Brigantine, as each season brings new perspective.

During the fall season you can expect farmer’s markets, amazing weather (typically warmer than inland), wide open beaches and most attractions still open! Take advantage of the low crowds to explore the island and nearby beach towns at a leisurely pace. The fall is what residents consider “locals summer” and it’s every bit as fabulous as you’d imagine.

Winter at the shore is a whole new experience. Imagine wide stretches of sandy beaches covered with a coating of white snow. The streets are quiet and it’s the perfect time to spend the weekend cooking, watching movies and focusing on friends and family. Dress warmly, grab a cup of hot chocolate and explore the island and all the holiday decorations. (Another great thing about Brigantine– there are many year-round residents so holiday decorations are everywhere!) If you time it right, you can even catch a visit from Santa on his firetruck!

The shore doesn’t close down when September starts…that’s when the magic of the beach begins. Come for a visit!

Covid-19 Part III

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What an ever-changing situation! We have a few updates to share since our last post.  We hope to compile all information you may need within our blog post since this situation constantly evolves.

First (and most importantly), one thing hasn’t changed and that is the MASSIVE size of our beaches and the amazing respect each beach-goer has for social distancing.  Typically, most folks on 43rd Street beach will head close to the water, but nowadays you will spot families spread out all along the beach allowing much more than the six-foot social distancing requirement.

Second, all Brigantine restaurants are open for outside dining but not inside.  Inside dining was planned, however, that plan was canceled by the NJ governor as cases outside NJ began to grow.  Brigantine restaurants that did not initially have outside dining have created space alongside their restaurants for outside seating.

Retail has also opened including Primal Surf, Sea Star, Island Items, and more.  Many retailers are offering sales, too! If you plan to visit the island, be sure to plan for time to check them out!

Speaking of retail, the Brigantine Farmers’ Market is now OPEN!  In its new location at Brigantine Community School parking lot, the Market allows for plenty of space to follow social distancing requirements.  Vendors are spaced out and crowds are moved through the Market in an organized manner.  Volunteers ensure a limited number of shoppers are allowed in the Market at a time.  Although masks are not required, they are strongly encouraged.

Finally, a few additional places have opened this week! In Atlantic City, casinos are now open with limited capacity.  The Smile Factory Arcade in Brigantine is also now open along with the Brigantine Community Center who also holds a summer concert series.

There is plenty to do on the island and plenty of space to social distance! We can’t wait for your visit!