Written and photographed by Diane Stulga
In the 1950s the salt marshes of the Manahawkin waterfront were transformed into Beach Haven West when the Shapiro brothers, Herbert, and Jerome, purchased and developed the land into vacation homes. The first phase of the development of lagoon homes opened in 1957.
Today, Beach Haven West has grown to be a warm, friendly, close-knit community with much to offer. Boating, kayaking, swimming, cookouts, crabbing, fishing, clamming, walking, and biking are some of the many outdoor activities enjoyed by the residents of BHW. With nearby beautiful beaches, wonderful dining, great shopping, modern medical facilities, theatres, recreation, parks, trails and more, life in Beach Haven West has so much to offer.
My husband, Vic, and I dreamed of living in BHW for almost as long as we can remember. As teenagers we both came to LBI with our friends and families. Eventually, we got engaged at Barnegat Lighthouse in 1986. And although we lived in northern New Jersey, our hearts were always on LBI. We brought our own family to LBI annually for vacation. Throughout the year we took day trips to the Island even in winter when the lagoons were frozen, and snow covered. Over those years, as we drove to LBI we always felt drawn to BHW. To me with the homes lit up on the lagoons at night, it looked like a little fishing village. BHW always had a special place in our hearts and still does even more so today.
In July of 2007, we bought a house in Beach Haven West. Since then, Vic and I have been truly blessed to call this place our home. It is a special place where we make wonderful memories with our children and their families.
Our neighbors share our passion about BHW. Each of us has a story about what makes it so special to us. Jeff and Barb Moody bought their house here fifteen years ago. According to Jeff and Barb, “BHW is the perfect location for us. From our awesome neighbors to the breathtaking views, we can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
Jim and Lynne Griffin feel the same way. The Griffins moved to BHW forty-two years ago. Back then, they were the youngest family in the neighborhood. Now, they are the oldest. Over the years they clammed, fished, crabbed, and had many family parties. They made new friends and lost old friends along the way. Jim and Lynne say, “Beach Haven West is a beautiful little town by the sea.”
“I love everything there is to love about Beach Haven West living,” says Laurene Lally, who has lived in BHW for thirty years. And though her husband Tom is no longer with her, Laurene feels close to him living in BHW, a place they both loved so much.
After owning a home in BHW for twenty-six years, John and Joni Barbarula became full-time residents here in May of 2022. According to John and Joni, “Living in BHW is the ultimate stress reliever.”
BHW is a community minded place with a down-home feel. It is a unique place with local traditions carried from one generation to the next and family-oriented events.
Every June there’s the Founders’ Day Parade. After the parade folks gather at Doc Cramer Baseball Fields for a daylong event of family fun, music, food trucks, contests, vendors, and so much more. Fireworks are the perfect end to a perfect day.
Another great Beach Haven West event that originally started as a block party on a lagoon became Lagoon Lights. Now the last Saturday in August is celebrated with a decorated boat parade. Locals, friends, neighbors, and anyone who wants to participate decorate their boat with lights and more to cruise up and down the lagoons of BHW to the delight of everyone. It is a great evening filled with beautifully decorated boats, music, singing, food, drinks, and fun.
In Beach Haven West there is always something to do. Or you can choose to do nothing — sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of the sunbeams dancing off the lagoon, the tranquility of magnificent sunrises and breathtaking sunsets, and the warmth of family and friends.
Living on the water in Beach Haven West is as good as it gets. From sunrise to sunset and each precious hour in between — here is to life in BHW.