39° 13' 59.328" N / 75° 1' 58.900" W
5 | 23B | 57B
One of our most unexpectedly favorite places, and despite being on the opposite end of the state was the only one we visited three separate times during the year.
When we first listened to the song, this was one of the names that stood out— I mean, who is really naming a town after an oyster in New Jersey? Nestled where the Maurice River spills into the Delaware Bay, this sleepy little town (and her equally intriguingly-named neighbor Shell Pile, New Jersey) is part of Port Norris, which is a part of Commercial Township. There are only a couple residential-looking structures, a quiet but working dockside, and a handful of oyster farming facilities.
Oh, did you guess that this town had some history with the mullosks?
When we first visited in April, we had no expectations and no clue what we were visiting, and were captivated by the "forgotten but not gone" feel of the place; we wandered around a bit, and Devon noticed a driveway into the Bayshore Center at Bivalve. It didn't take us long to become enamored with the place.
It's New Jersey's only environmental history museum, and the building facade is maintained to look as it did over a hundred years ago. Interpretive panels throughout the property bring light to the town's rich history as a significant oyster fishery and its eventual downfall due to water pollution and the still-present MSX bacteria that erodes shells. A brilliant little restaurant situated right on the covered docks— the Oyster Cracker Café— offers up mollusks plucked right from the namesake waters. And the AJ Meerwald, a 1928 schooner, sets sail for recreational tours around the area (note: toward the end of the 2021 season, the Meerwald set sail for Belfast, Maine to undergo a significant restoration.)
Everything was still buttoned up during our April visit, so we came back at the end of May to fully enjoy the place (in sweltering heat, mind you), and headed back a third time in September to catch a mind-blowing sunset and chow down on some more fried oysters (their housemade tartar sauce is incredible).
It's obviously a tough place to be; the industry is all but gone, and the location feels so isolated, but Bivalve, we love ya— can't wait to be back!
A wall of oyster crates at Cape May Salts oyster farm; an undeniably pungent experience in summer
Few homes still stand in Bivalve; those that do show the scars of a town forgotten.
A bayshore sunset like none other.
The Bayshore Center is modeled to reflect its appearance during the heyday of oyster production
Raw oysters on the half, oyster chowder, and a killer IPA from Ludlam Island Brewing in Ocean View