West Cape May was incorporated in 1884. The borough's name comes from Cape May, which was named for Cornelius Mey, a Dutch captain, who explored the area between 1611–1614.
The borough's history goes back to the time of the Lenape Native Americans and several buildings date to the Colonial period. For example, the Whilldin-Miller House, a timber frame home built about 1715, is one of the oldest houses on Cape Island. The historic core of the borough was placed on the National Register of Historic Places along with sections of the City of Cape May in 1976. The area has a rich agricultural history which continues to be celebrated each year with a summer farmers' market, and strawberry, tomato and lima bean festivals. Geographically, West Cape May is located on one of the world's top migratory paths for birds, butterflies and dragonflies. The diversity of forests, salt marshes, beaches, maritime forests and grasslands makes the area a key stopover point for migrating wildlife.