An Entire Beach of Nuns …

… My co-worker went to visit the in-laws in New Jersey. Upon his return he presented me with a key chain from this magical place called Nun’s Beach in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. A beach full of nuns! My imagination soared. I could hardly contain it. My two favorite things coming gloriously together, besides chocolate and peanut butter and gin and tonic… nuns and the ocean.

Ok. I got a little carried away.


Image from Surfer Today.

The nuns host an annual surf competition that raises money to maintain their retreat house, Villa Maria by the Sea. They also have a surf shop which sells boards hand painted by the nuns, key chains, t-shirts and other assorted Catholic kitsch. The stretch of beach in front of the retreat house became known by locals as Nun’s Beach.

The nuns don’t participate in the contest but they do enjoy watching the contestants. In an interview, Sister James, the retreat’s property manager said, “It’s very peaceful [to watch the contest]. You see how the water holds them up, balances them and if you ride with the water, it will get you where you want to go. That’s how it is with the grace of God.” [Read More] [See More]

Nuns relaxing at Villa Maria.

Isn’t that a great story? The only thing that could make this post any better would be more beach nun gazing. So… now we gaze.


Nuns at Cherai beach, just north of Kochi, Kerala, South India.


Nuns on a beach in Benaulim


Missionaries of Charity on a beach


Nuns on a beach in Queens, NY c. 1934

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • Kim Whelan

    What great timing! We leave on Saturday for Stone Harbor, NJ for a week with my hubby’s crazy large family. I will look for the store/beach and retreat house. (We traditionally were always more north, but we had to change our destination this year due to the hurricane.) Thank you for sharing!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      As long as you don’t plan to go swimming. I heard the water was still questionable after Sandy.

      • Kim Whelan

        It was way too cold to go swimming. We were down South enough for debris not to be a problem. (It is still a huge problem up North). I did get to Nun Beach and even talked with them. They have a cute little garage set up to sell stuff to fund raise for the retreat house. I was “power walking” so I didn’t have my wallet. The few other times I went by with my wallet they weren’t open. :( I wanted a magnet and a beach towel. I also wanted to buy raffle tickets for that cool surf board! Hopefully I’ll get back there sooner rather than later.

  • mo

    We used to vacation in Stone Harbor when I was a child. The Sisters’ house belonged to the IHM’s at that time. They were the order that taught me at the time so I was a little nervous about walking down their beach.

  • http://www.TotusTuusFamily.blogspot.com/ Allison@TotusTuus

    Spend my summers at the Jersey Shore, too and Stone Harbor, growing up. Never saw the nuns!! Will make it a point to look for them.

    For Assumption, however, the priest rides a wave rider out into the surf, throws a wreath of flowers into the ocean for Our Lady and back flips off and body surfs in….my boys love watching that!

  • Karen

    I grew up less than 10 minutes from Nun beach. The retreat house is at the end of Stone Harbor that is closest to North Wildwood for those who are looking to find it on a future trip. (It’s down by the bird sanctuary.)


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