My wife and I arrived at Manasquan Reservoir around 2PM expecting it to be mobbed as it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon but it was nearly empty. The cost to launch that day was $6 per kayak; usually you pay at the booth just inside the entrance but if it is not manned, you need to pay in the baitshop. PFDs are required at all times on the water.
We had the "rigging" area (just east of the ramp)to ourselves and after an uneventful launch set out to the western side of the reservoir towards the Environmental Center, remembering the warning to stay clear of the area cordoned off at the northwestern corner of the reservoir where the bald eagle is nesting. Besides the ramp there is also a floating dock if you prefer to launch from there.
We set off into a stiff northwesterly breeze but it had much less of an effect on us than I thought it would and a few minutes after launching the eagle made his (her?) appearance. It's the first bald eagle either of us ever saw in the wild so it was quite a thrill for both of us. We spent about two hours on the water and the return back to the ramp was easy with the wind at our back.
There is a large visitor's center that has a bait shop and clean restrooms; outside around the building are plenty of places to sit and relax. There are quite a few parking spaces including many for cars with boat trailers. If paddling around for several hours isn't enough exercise for you, there is a five mile walking/jogging/biking trail around the perimeter of the reservoir which is well maintained and relatively flat.
$6 per kayak
Garden State Parkway to exit 98, follow signs for 195 west, exit onto Route 9 North. Turn right at first light onto Georgia Tavern Road and after a quarter of a mile, turn right onto Windeler Road. The park entrance is on the left about a mile down (be sure not to turn into the maintenance area which is before the main park entrance.)