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Is Cape May safe to visit? While locals might chuckle at this question, I’m fine writing an entire post about it to address any concerns you might have about your upcoming trip.
After all, personal safety is always important to consider when planning a vacation whether it’s an international destination or a weekend trip in one’s own state. As a seasoned traveler, I personally never mess around when it comes to my physical or financial safety on the road and hope you don’t either.
Since the topic is so important, I wanted to discuss Cape May safety tips for anyone who wants to visit this charming Victorian city in the near future. A lot of these tips are common sense (more on that in a bit), but I still wanted to reiterate them on this blog.
So let’s answer the most pressing question first …
Is Cape May Safe to Visit? Yes!
Yes, Cape May is safe to visit. Becoming a victim of a violent crime in Cape May is extraordinarily rare, especially if you’re taking a day trip to this lovely Victorian town. I’ve wandered around Cape May all hours of the day. I’ve never, ever felt unsafe as a younger woman. Cape May is also safe for solo travel.
Does crime exist in Cape May county? Yes, of course, but crime exists everywhere, and you rarely – if ever – hear about tourists falling victims to violent crime if they were going to the beach in the afternoon or shopping on Washington Mall.
To be honest, according to statistics and my own personal experience, I would keep an eye on my belongings more than I would my physical safety. I’m not saying Cape May is a den of thievery (hardly), but regardless, it’s still good practice to watch your wallet and purse in any town that thrives off tourism.
Tourist towns mean money, and anyone who wants to make a quick buck already knows that.
So do what’s in your power to protect your belongings. For example, don’t leave your possessions alone on the beach. Don’t let your wallet hang out of your back pocket.
Stay smart, not paranoid.
Cape May NJ: Important Safety Tips
Cape May is a safe destination. However, safe doesn’t necessarily mean perfect. I wanted to write a couple of safety tips that will make your vacation to Cape May memorable.
A lot of these tips apply to any destination, and I hope that you take them seriously.
Avoid Drinking and Driving
Cape May has lots of highly rated cocktail bars, a popular brewery, and plenty of wineries. Definitely try the local drinks here. However, drinking and driving is a lovely (not) way to land yourself in a heap of trouble.
In Cape May City, you’re much better off walking to the bars and then back to your accommodation. Police at the Jersey Shore take drinking and driving offenses very seriously. Not only could you kill yourself, but you could also kill an innocent driver, or (heaven forbid), a child.
I know I sound moralizing about this topic, but it’s serious. Don’t drink and drive in Cape May.
Use Uber or Lyft if you find yourself stranded without a ride. Even swallow your shame and ask the bar staff for taxi recommendations if you can’t find a rideshare. Anything is better than getting into a drunk car wreck. Your life is worth far more than that.
Take Safety Precautions in Nearby Shore Towns
Cape May is safe, like I said, but other nearby shore towns don’t necessarily share Cape May’s low crime rates. You can take lots of day trips from Cape May, so you need to keep in mind that each area is wildly, wildly different.
I promise I’m not “dissing” any of those places, but at the same time, I don’t want you to have a false sense of security, especially if it’s your first time visiting the south Jersey shore.
For example, Atlantic City has one of the highest violent crime rates in the entire state. Straying from the casinos, especially intoxicated, is legitimately asking for trouble. Wildwood, although it’s great for boardwalk rides and safe to explore during the day, also has a higher crime rate than the national average.
I would never blame the victim of any crime. Crimes are the fault of criminals. Full stop. However, do anything in your power to protect yourself.
Don’t wander alone at night in Atlantic City or even parts of Wildwood. Don’t flash around large sums of money. Don’t drink a cocktail that you left unattended or was randomly handed to you by a stranger. And don’t feel the need to be polite to someone who won’t leave you alone.
Put your safety first and never worry about appearing rude.
Respect the Atlantic Ocean’s Power
If you’re visiting Cape May in summer, then you’re probably going to swim in the Atlantic Ocean, which is a lot of fun! I’ve so many fond memories of spending hours in the water.
However, remember that the Atlantic Ocean is not a backyard pool or even a country lake. The Atlantic Ocean is massive and powerful and demands your respect.
Respect the lifeguards and their decisions. I’ve overheard a lot of complaining in recent years about how strict the lifeguards are regarding where and when you can swim in the ocean, but come on. They’re honestly putting your safety first. Don’t go out too far into the ocean and then expect to be rescued, which puts the lifeguards and other first responders in danger, too.
Respecting the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t only apply to swimmers. Boaters need to take this advice seriously, too. My heart breaks whenever I visit the Fisherman’s Memorial, a touching monument dedicated to all the fisherman lost at sea. Always take gale warnings to heart. And for the love of god, don’t take out your boat in the middle of a tropical storm or Nor’easter. You’re not impressing anyone, and your life is worth more than your pride.
Use Common Sense
Common sense goes a long way in Cape May. I suggest this rule of thumb for your visit: if you wouldn’t do it at home, then don’t do it in Cape May.
Unfortunately, as the saying goes, common sense is not so common.
I promise I’m not writing this to talk down to you, but I still want to jot a couple of Cape May Common Sense Tips to this safety guide. Feel free to add more if you think of them!
Common Sense Safety Tips in Cape May
- Avoid Road Rage. Cape May is jammed in summer. The roads, frankly, aren’t equipped to handle the traffic in July and August. So, while driving is frustrating, please keep your anger under control. You never know if the other driver has a weapon (or something that can be used as a weapon like a bat) in their car. Swallow your anger. It’s better than a fight.
- Lock Your Doors. Lock your car door and rental home door (or hotel door). Lots of crimes are committed, because the thief or assailant can simply walk through the door. Always lock it. Always.
- Know Your Limits. Whether it’s swimming, kayaking, fishing, boating, always know your personal limits and don’t go beyond them to be a tough guy.
- Stay in Bike Lanes. Do you want to bike? Awesome. Stay in the bike lanes. Sure, cars ought to be mindful of cyclists but a lot of the time, cars park everywhere on narrow roads and a driver’s vision isn’t always great. Don’t ride your bike in the middle of the street and stick only to bike lanes if possible. Don’t be those people who ride in a horizontal row, so they can chat about their plans. You will risk being hit by a car.
- Watch Your Drinking. Even though I covered drinking and driving separately, it’s always good practice to limit the amount you’re drinking. My rule of thumb is two drinks. You don’t want to get into a bar fight or ill from too much alcohol. Speaking of illness, Cape May county has one major hospital. You don’t want to go and clog up the ER with alcohol related sickness. Trust me.
Wear Sunscreen and Generously Re-Apply
When you ask yourself, “Is Cape May safe to visit?”, you might not consider UV rays right away.
Folks, sunscreen is your friend. I know New Jersey isn’t as associated with bright sun as, say, southern Florida, but summers are not a joke. You will easily wind up with sun poisoning if you lie outside on the beach for hours.
Visiting Cape May for an extended beach vacation? Awesome. I personally recommend Sun Bum products for visiting Cape May, especially since the lotion is environmentally friendly and good for your skin. Always reapply your lotion after splashing around in the waves.
Don’t ignore sunscreen other times of the year either. Even if you visit Cape May in April, for example, you will want to use a face moisturizer with SPF 30 to keep your skin safe from the sun’s rays.
Protect your skin. Skin cancer is serious. You want to do whatever you can to decrease the odds of dangerous moles, and that includes wearing lots of sunscreen.
So is Cape May safe to visit? Ultimately, yes! Just make sure to follow all these simple tips here to help ensure the safest visit to Cape May possible. Have a great time!