South Jersey beaches beat their neighbors to the north in a new survey of the best beaches in the Garden State.
Ocean City has reclaimed its status as New Jersey's most popular beach in an annual online voting contest.
The Cape May County resort took top honors in the New Jersey Top Ten Beaches contest. Results were announced Thursday.
The contest is sponsored by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and Stockton College as a way of making people feel more connected to and protective of the state's 127-mile coastline.
Ocean City, which calls itself “America's Greatest Family Resort,” won the contest in 2009 as well.
In this year's contest, it was named best beach, best destination for a family vacation, best day trip beach, and best beach for ecotourism, marking the first time since the contest began in 2008 that a single beach has swept top honors.
Ocean City is known for its popular boardwalk, amusement rides and mini golf courses, restaurants and bayfront boating and water sports.
The rest of the winners, in order of ranking, were: Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, North Wildwood, Cape May, Belmar, Stone Harbor, Asbury Park, Sea Isle City, and Island Beach State Park.
This year was the first time in many that the three Wildwood beaches competed individually. Previously, they competed -- and won -- as one entity called “The Wildwoods.”
The Wildwoods won four out of the past five rounds of voting. Balloting was suspended last year as the Jersey shore recovered from the effects of Superstorm Sandy.
Long Beach Island, which also used to compete as a single entity, did not place any winners in this year's voting when its beaches had to compete individually.
Seven of the top 10 beaches this year are located in Cape May County, New Jersey's southernmost oceanfront county, and one that suffered much less damage from Sandy than did its northern counterparts, particularly Ocean and Monmouth counties.