Cape May County's Nature Spots:
By Paul Kerlinger
Everyone coming down the Parkway to Cape May County has seen the vast sea of marsh grass to the east of the highway.
Although the causeways to the Wildwoods and Stone Harbor give you a glimpse of the marsh, if you want to venture right out into the marsh, take a drive to Shell Bay Landing - the most accessible and panoramic marsh overlook in the County.
What to See
The dock and landing at the end of Shell Bay Road provide a comfortable perch for viewing the mud flats (low tide), embayments, and the marsh grasses that extend for miles to the east, north, and south. Look for wildlife, or just plain enjoy the unbroken views. Blue sky, green grass, the water, the mud flats, and few people make Shell Bay a tranquil and beautiful place to visit. There are also plenty of photographic opps. The colors of the marsh, sky, and backbay sounds change remarkably from sunrise to sunset.
Shell Bay Landing is also a great place to see birds and other nature. Even for those who haven’t done much birding, marsh birds like egrets and herons are usually cooperative. From April through October, these birds will be readily visible and in the winter, hundreds (if not thousands) of brant geese and other waterfowl can be seen floating in front of the dock.
On either side of the road leading to the landing are grassy flats that extend for miles, including sod banks where you can see mussels embedded in the turf developed by the marsh grasses. Look for the little quarter-sized holes, which are homes for fiddler crabs.
If you’ve never been out on the marsh, Shell Bay Landing offers a wonderful introduction and a peaceful place to enjoy the sea of grass.
Access, Parking, and Hours
Free and open to the public. Directions: At mile 8.4 of the Garden State Parkway (the first traffic light going northbound), go east (right - toward the ocean) on Shell Bay Landing road. Proceed about ½ mile to the end of the road and you are there.
Shell Bay Landing has no comfort facilities or restaurant. There is a gazebo and a boat dock.