Shore 2009: Water

Not all surf is created equal. The best for sailing, snorkeling, hanging 10 ...

Catchin’ a wave Among all the designated surfing beaches at the Shore, long, thin LBI has the best. Beginners do well at Harvey Cedars’ Hudson Avenue, where the sheer quantity of waves boosts your chances, and Ship Bottom, where there’s enough room to spread out. Beach Haven’s Taylor and Holyoke avenues tend to attract serious surfers, and Seaside Heights (the island just north of LBI) has Casino Pier, which has what could be the most consistent big waves at the Shore. Though you might also try Cape May’s Cove Beach on the southwest tip, where a flat shoreline creates rougher surf (especially after storms).

Learning to catch a wave Instructors abound. Some of the greats: The 7th Street Surf Shop in O.C. has been at it for more than 15 years — group lessons run $35 per person. At the fabulous Farias Surf & Sport in Ship Bottom, instructor Dave Werner, one of the state’s best surfers, gives lessons for $40 to $60. Sea Isle’s Heritage Surf & Sport offers lessons from pro John Barrie for $50 to $65, and L.B.I. Surfing instructor Jeff Santoloci (right) takes beginners on a tour of a nearby island, on boards, for $45 to $65. (7th Street Surf Shop, 7th Street and the Boardwalk, Ocean City, 609-391-1700; Dave Werner at Farias Surf & Sport, 28th Street and Long Beach Boulevard, Ship Bottom, 609-494-7368; Heritage Surf & Sport, 3700 Landis Avenue, Sea Isle City, 609-263-3033; L.B.I. Surfing East Burlington Street, Harvey Cedars, 609-494-7873).

Watching hot people catch a wave Sea Isle’s annual Oakley-Heritage surf competition — where 40th Street meets the beach — is rife with hot young talent. It’s good watching. August 29th.

Boogie boarding There’s prime boogie space in Wildwood, where lifeguards only restrict boarders if the water’s crowded. (The Cresse/Hildreth Avenue entrance is the cleanest.) Avalon’s 21st, 35th and 40th Street beaches are BB-friendly, and ever since Cape May roped off Cove Beach’s surfing area, boogie boarders and body surfers are free to catch waves without getting plowed over by rogue surfboards.

Under the sea A very cool way to see the Atlantic: snorkeling and scuba diving off the jetties in Longport and Ocean City. You can buy or rent equipment from Northfield’s East Coast Diving Supply, which also offers diving certifications and trips throughout the summer (no snorkeling school necessary). Already a diver? Join the ECDS crew on one of dozens of (awesome) dives around the old shipwrecks off Cape May and Atlantic counties’ coasts. (East Coast Diving Supply 1002 New Road, Northfield, 609-646-5090,

Setting sail At Venicean and the bay, the Yacht Club of Sea Isle City — a private club — opens sailing lessons to non-members with weeklong beginner and intermediate classes that cater to the renter crowd. (Yacht Club of Sea Isle City 4487 Venicean Road, Sea Isle City, 609-263-7282,

Casting your line The jetties of Longport — south of 16th — are as beautiful a place to park yourself as anywhere at the Shore. And Ventnorians are thrilled: The city finally finished the pier at Cambridge and Boardwalk (take that, Margate!), with annual memberships at $40 for kids and $200 for adults. Or go crabbing at Wildwood’s more egalitarian (and kid-friendly) Lakeview Docks crabbing pier — $3 for kids, $5 for adults — and rent a boat (from $55 for three hours) to head out to the less-crowded open sea. Or let someone else be captain on the Miss Beach Haven, which departs almost daily from LBI’s Beach Haven on ocean and bay fishing trips, starting as low as $26 per person. (Lakeview Docks 7116 Park Boulevard, Wildwood Crest, 609-522-0471,; Miss Beach Haven 609-978-9951,

Windsurfing (seriously!) The secret jewel of South Jersey windsurfing: Lakes Bay, just across from A.C. high school and practically hidden behind a Hampton Inn. No wakes, no traffic, few crowds. Seek out nearby Extreme Windsurfing next time the wind blows from the south. (Extreme Windsurfing 7079 Black Horse Pike, Pleasantville, 609-641-4445,