Sometimes there is nothing better than exploring the beauty of nature. In southern Delaware, vacationers can walk on pristine beaches, go birding at a nature reserve, or discover native plants and wildlife while quietly kayaking or paddleboarding through waterways. Experiences like these consistently attract eco-tourists who enjoy coastal Delaware for its gorgeous natural settings and the serenity that comes with getting back to nature.
Delaware Seashore State Park
Six miles of pristine ocean or bay shoreline await visitors who are seeking a natural beach retreat at Delaware Seashore State Park. Located between Bethany Beach and Dewey Beach, this park is one of the biggest draws to the state’s southeastern coast. Rehoboth Bay and Indian River Bay are on the west side of the 2,825-acre park while the Atlantic Ocean borders the east side, providing a choice of environments for a wonderful beach day. Bathhouses are available for showering and changing, and they even sell snack foods. However, before stepping onto the sandy beach, stop in the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum—an interesting welcome center with a small museum detailing the history of the building and the park. It also serves as a visitor information center and gift shop. While here, pick up a permit to drive on the beach and go surf-fishing—just one of the many activities that can be enjoyed at the park. After a long day in the sun, why not stay for the night? Campgrounds are available for a pleasant night’s sleep by the water.
Prime Hook National Wildlife Reserve
Visitors can explore the loveliness of the region and glimpse some of the area’s wildlife at Prime Hook National Wildlife Reserve, located northwest of Lewes. Stroll the boardwalk through the reserve and journey past stunning views of marshland, forests and open fields. Those who enjoy birding will love this park that was established to help protect migratory birds. Throughout the year, over 300 species of birds from snowy owls to bald eagles can be spotted in the reserve. Of the approximate 10,100 acres contained here, most is completely unspoiled natural paradise. There are two ponds and multiple streams for canoeing or kayaking and four paths for hiking.
Cape Henlopen State Park
For swimming and other recreational activities in and out of the water, visit Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes. This park hosts popular events such as the Great Delaware Kite Festival in April and the Children’s Fantasy Trail during the Halloween season. Plus, there’s a 3-mile paved trail where history lovers can bicycle or hike to the Fort Miles Museum and Historical Area with a WWII observation tower. Within this historic area is Battery 519, an underground facility that houses the museum and displays wartime artifacts.
Fenwick Island State Park
At Fenwick Island State Park, visitors can swim, hike, and surf-fish for 3 miles along the coasts of this barrier island. The park is a small, natural area near the southern Delaware state line on Route 1. At the park’s southern entrance, a modern bathhouse provides services including umbrella rentals and food concessions in addition to changing and showering facilities. A wide trail for hiking and horseback riding takes explorers through nature and past areas where wildlife can be spotted.
Assawoman Bay State Wildlife Area
West of Fenwick Island State Park is Assawoman Bay State Wildlife Area—another great spot for people who love to go bird-watching. Over 300 bird species can be seen throughout the refuge, which consists of several different types of terrain. Marshes there can be both brackish and saltwater and attract wading birds including heron and ibis. There are also pine forests, maritime grasslands, and wetlands that all attract different types of birds and wildlife. This area also has a watchtower that provides beautiful views and better vantages for birding.
Some of the state’s smaller parks are also some of its best-kept secrets. Holts Landing State Park is a 203-acre park northwest of Bethany Beach on the Indian River Bay. This is a wonderful place to go crabbing since this park has a pier that was constructed specifically for that use. It’s a very peaceful park where visitors can also hike and picnic.
These are just some of the many natural parks and reserves that are spread throughout southeastern Delaware. While visiting the coastline take advantage of the beauty in the natural world by exploring one of these areas.