Heading to the beach? We can help.

This new guide and map — Jersey Shore and Delaware beach closures: What’s open, what’s not — will tell you which beaches to head to or avoid, the weather, and possible traffic issues.

You’ll be able to find the current test status (more on this later) of more than 200 beaches along the Jersey Shore and Delaware coast, according to the latest state data. The map updates every hour throughout the day (and every 15 minutes during peak times) to reflect the latest data.

It’s your go-to summer beach resource: Our easy-to-use map and list also serves up driving directions and the weather forecast. And you can add your Shore town or Delaware beach to a list of favorites, so you can easily find it each week.

Find the guide all summer long at inquirer.com/beaches.

The only thing we don't do is apply sunscreen. You’re on your own there.

Got an idea for how we can make this guide more useful? Let us know what other features you want to see by emailing innovation@inquirer.com.

John Galloway, of West Chester, Pa., and his son, Sean, 5, build sand castles on the Ocean City beach.
VERNON OGRONEK / For The Inquirer
John Galloway, of West Chester, Pa., and his son, Sean, 5, build sand castles on the Ocean City beach.

Why is my beach closed?

From May to September, officials test the water every Monday for Enterococci bacteria, found in animal and human waste. If the bacteria count is too high, a beach is placed under advisory and tested every day. If it fails two days in a row, the beach is closed.

Bird poop is one reason why the water quality can fail (seriously); big storms and damaged/older sewage systems can also play a big role.

If a beach is closed for water quality reasons, you can still access the beach to sunbathe, but officials warn against going in the water. (Not-very-fun-in-the-sun symptoms caused by the Enterococci bacteria can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory symptoms, earache, and rash, among others.)

Beaches can also be closed for non-water quality reasons, such as debris washing up on shore. And towns can close beaches if the surf is too rough, though this isn’t reflected in the state’s data.

Best bet: Check the beach for red flags before you take a dip.

The beach in Ocean City.
TOM GRALISH
The beach in Ocean City.

Want more Shore?

The map is just part of how we help you plan your summer down the Shore.

Make the most of your trip with our Ultimate Shore Guide, which has a ton of information about things to do and places to eat, a list of the best beach hacks, and our Shore page, complete with the latest news and events.

Other than that, all you need is to grab a towel, bring your suit, and stay cool.

Happy summer!