A tetrad of billowy sea creatures smiling down on Belmar’s beachfront graces this year’s cover of the Visit Monmouth travel guide.

The "splashy" scene was snapped by photographer Nancy Orlowski at last October’s Belmar Kite Festival, sponsored by the Belmar Business Partnership (BBP). It was chosen from among hundreds submitted for publication in the popular annual guide, produced by Spark Market Solutions in cooperation with the Monmouth County Tourism Department.

“We’re blessed with so many talented photographers in our area — both amateur and professional — and so many terrific locations,” said Patti Baxter, editor for Red Bank-based events marketing company. “We’re looking for eye-catching images that capture and express the spirit of the Jersey Shore. Nancy’s photograph of the Belmar Kite Festival hit all the right marks.”

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Orlowski said she draws both comfort and inspiration from her frequent trips to the Jersey Shore. “Walking the beach makes you forget about your cares and worries. It helps you rethink things,” said the South Amboy resident.

On that particular day, “I happened to be in Belmar and saw the kite festival,” she said. “It was a little windy, but such a nice day.”

But then the impromptu visit turned a bit more personal for Orlowski. She said she had just returned from a trip to Spain, where pulpo or octopus is a main dish. “So when I looked up at the sky and saw the octopus kite, I had to take a picture of it, as well as all the sea life represented by the kites — the jellyfish, hammerhead shark and stingray,” Orlowski said. “The colors were so bright, and the sky was such a brilliant blue. That’s what I like most about the photo.”

Orlowski’s photo isn’t the only one of Belmar’s myriad attractions included in the Visit Monmouth guide, which dedicates four pages to the borough, as well as spot photographs throughout the 116-page publication.

There are two photos of popular Belmar destinations by BBP trustee Christine Cardellino — the 9th Avenue Pier at the Belmar Marina glowingly pictured right after sunset and the lighted, ivy-covered tree trunk that is the centerpiece of Twisted Tapas’ outdoor patio.

“It is an exciting honor to see some of my photographs featured in the guide. The Belmar region of the Jersey Shore has so much to offer when you are vacationing here, and I love to showcase the many great attractions in town and nearby for the enjoyment of visitors and residents alike,” said Cardellino, publisher of the Belmar Beachcomber blog.

And no tourism guide would be complete without the traditional Belmar surf scene— this year by Belmar’s own Stephen Lacko, known for his oceanfront imagery.

Some 55,000 copies of Visit Monmouth will be distributed at events and attractions throughout the county, and will be available at the Monmouth tourism office, located at the Hall of Records, 1 East Main Street, Freehold; Spark’s headquarters at 65 Monmouth Street, Red Bank; and at various municipal locations, including the Belmar Municipal Building. 601 Main Street.

To view an online version, click here. To request a copy be mailed, call 1-800-523-2587 or email jeanne.deyoung@visitmonmouth.com.

For more travel news go to TAPintoTravels and for more news on Belmar TAP here.