The 14 Best Beaches in Delaware

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For a state of its size, Delaware packs quite a punch. Despite being the second smallest state in the Union, there’s quite a bit happening, particularly in the summer. And much of that activity revolves around the Delaware beaches. These are the best beaches in Delaware to visit.

Named after the Delaware River, this state has a vibrant history and a thriving economy. But in recent years, tourists have recognized that it has some great beaches and a more laid-back attitude compared to other shore destinations. Many of the best beaches close to Philadelphia are actually in Delaware. And despite its small size, it still has over 381 miles of shoreline to explore.

During the summer, one fun thing to do is visit as many beaches in Delaware as you can. Each spot is unique and offers lots of thrilling water-based activities, as well as hiking and bird watching. When you visit The First State, we have 14 beaches you should add to your trip.

Rehoboth Beach

Fence and beach at sunset
There’s good reason why Rehoboth shore destination in Delaware (Photo: Bruce Goerlitz Photo/Shutterstock)

Arguably the most visited beach in Delaware, Rehoboth Beach has been termed ‘The Nation’s Summer Capital.’ Rehoboth Beach boasts a mile-long boardwalk that is flanked with restaurants, stores and kiosks selling all kinds of merchandise and some delicious food. Going from end to end on the boardwalk also offers some great people watching!

Rehoboth isn’t a seasonal beach. Far from it. While it may be busy in the summer, visitors enjoy it all year round. It can take you a week to visit and enjoy every aspect of Rehoboth Beach, so take your time and take it easy. You can always return. Rehoboth’s open arms are wide and welcoming.

It is an excellent place for food lovers and sweet-toothed tourists because there are so many delicious treats that you could try out. You can indulge in the good eats, visit the most incredible rock-and-roll bar, or partake in tax-free shopping in the numerous businesses along the boardwalk and throughout town.

The activities to partake in at Rehoboth are as numerous as the sand on its shore. There are lots of watersports available. A Visit to the Rehoboth Historical Society will give you an appreciation for the town and its beaches. Or you can just sit on the sand and do nothing at all.

The beach is free to enter and very family-friendly, so you and your family or friends are sure to have numerous places to spend some quality family time.

Delaware Seashore State Park

With about six miles of oceanfront and 20 miles of bay shoreline, the difficult-to-navigate Delaware Seashore State Park is now a hub for some of the most fun summer activities. The construction of two jetties that joined the Indian River and Rehoboth Bay to the Atlantic have transformed the Delaware Seashore into the beach goer’s utopia.

Visitors can take part in loads of activities such as swimming and kayaking in the safe waters. You will also enjoy the view of how the Rehoboth Bay and the Indian River come together.

The Indian River Life Saving Station that used to respond to shipwrecks stands tall and serves as an educational center, so there is an educational component to this Shore destination. You can surf and sunbathe on the sand or camp out in one of the cottages where you can listen to the music of the waves at night.

Outdoor activities on the Delaware Seashore Beach include six family trails where you can hike or bike, dining at the oceanfront restaurant called Big Chill Beach Club, or a hang out at an open-air area called the Umbrella Bar. One notable mention is the Hammerheads Dockside, a full-service outdoor restaurant with the best view of the marina and a sumptuous menu.

A park entry fee is charged from March through November, but every attraction on the Delaware Seashore makes up for more than the entry fee.

Bethany Beach

Drone photo of Bethany Beach Delaware
The small town and boardwalk in Bethany Beach (Photo: Zach Chilelli/Shutterstock)

This is the quintessential small town. There are just 1000 people living in Bethany Beach. Yet the population swells in the summer when the visitors come to town. But what makes Bethany so beautiful is how quiet and relaxing it is. If you are looking for a place to be by yourself, Bethany Beach is one of the places you should consider.

Families that value solitude and older people who do not want to be around the party scene often come here for the quieter seas of Bethany Beach and explore the boardwalk. Bethany Beach has a short but wide boardwalk lined with shops where you can get what you want. Notwithstanding, it retains a calm air and soothing ambiance where you can soak up the sunshine uninterrupted, do some kayaking or surfing, or spend quality time with your family.

What this also means is that you can take great photos uninterrupted at Bethany Beach. Sparkling water and beautiful sand would give you the best backdrop you need for the kind of memories you want to create.

Bethany Beach has a lot of small sports including volleyball to keep groups of people busy. For a laid-back summer with your spouse, especially when you’re empty nesters, this is the place to be.

South Bethany

Since the fun places in this state run into each other, you might just spend the summer going from beach to beach without even knowing it. In a world without road signs, this could happen. And you could wander into this quaint 1-mile long beach that sits beside a small town. It’s tough to see where Bethany Beach ends and South Bethany starts.

For quiet, intimate long summers and extended vacations, South Bethany is the place you want to go to. It is a well-kept secret, something advantageous for the introverts among us. South Bethany is so peaceful that it makes it an excellent place for quiet and reflection. Waking up in the morning in South Bethany and soaking up the morning sun is one of the most beautiful experiences to have among Delaware’s beaches.

South Bethany is not without its attractions. It has a golf course, restaurants and a fishing bay where you can spend time trying your luck. South Bethany knows it’s type of vacationer, and it meets their needs on every level.

Lewes Beach

Sunbathers on beach
A perfect day at the beach in Lewes (Photo: Brian Doty/Shutterstock)

This is one of the cleanest beaches in Delaware. It is also one of the best destinations for families with small kids. Hence the family-friendly destination. The waters are shallow, and the shore is calm, so you can soak up the sun and not worry about your children.

Lewes Beach is quiet, but still has attractions to keep people entertained with things like fishing and boating. At low tide, you can spot jellyfish in the shallows, a sight that children never cease to be amazed by.

Anyone who has ever visited Lewes can attest to the fact that it is a vacationer’s favorite: reasonable parking, a nice beach, and great restaurants. But one of the best times in town is when it is quiet after dinner and you can hear the roll of the waves on the shore.

Fenwick Island State Park

Waves crashing on sandy beach
Your own slice of heaven (Photo: ldbphoto/Shutterstock)

Fenwick Island is one of Delaware’s coastal peninsula towns with a wild ocean ambiance and a natural landscape. It is often lauded as a quiet stretch of sand only interrupted by the sounds of nature. One notable thing about the beach at Fenwick is that it retains a lot of its natural charm because there hasn’t been any commercial development yet, which is a good thing as Fenwick boasts of an assortment of wildlife. 

The Fenwick Island State Park is its biggest attraction. It is a haven for swimmers, so it has a modern bathhouse, convenient showers, and changing rooms. The water is a great place to be in, whether you are swimming or sailing. 

With fewer crowds than most Delaware beaches, Fenwick is an excellent location to enjoy sunbathing. It’s also a lot quieter than that “other” beach town just over the state line.

Cape Henlopen

Trail leading through sand dunes to beach with lighthouse in distance
This may be the prettiest spots in Delaware (Photo: Yvonne Navalaney/Shutterstock)

Cape Henlopen was a strategically important area to maritime travel and was developed in 1918 to provide protection during World War I. Visitors to the area can explore the historical landmarks around the area.

But before you hit the sand, check out the Gordons Pond Trail, which takes you about 5 miles and you can catch all of the sights of Cape Henlopen. You can walk it, but cycling takes less time and Cape Henlopen has a borrow-a-bike program that can facilitate this. Cape Henlopen features an elevated boardwalk that provides a more intimate experience than other boardwalks.

A number of guided tours are offered where you can visit Fort Miles, learn about Cape Henlopen’s natural attractions at the Seaside Nature Park, or reserve camping space in the woods.

Cape Henlopen is home to The Beach Plum Nature Reserve. This is a wild conservation center where you can enjoy a relaxing stroll and explore the undeveloped shoreline, while enjoying the birds and and animals.

Slaughter Beach

It is hard not to wonder where the name Slaughter Beach came from. This doesn’t really sound like it would be an enjoyable experience. But stories say that it was named after William Slaughter, one of the town’s local postmasters in the 19th century.

However, a less appealing tale says that it is because of the crabs that wash up on the shore and die each year. There is also a story that brings up some dark history from the past. Whatever the origins of the name, Slaughter Beach offers travelers an escape from the real world. This is a worthy feature of any vacation. The town has a population of about 300 people, but its summertime population increases by the thousands.

There are no lifeguards here, so you need to exercise caution with aquatic activities. But the beach is quiet, secluded, and peaceful. The beauty of Slaughter Beach lies in the polished stones and quartz minerals that wash up on the shore. Have you seen sea glass before? You will find lots of it here at certain times of the year.

Attractions close to the Slaughter Beach include: The DuPont Nature Center, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, and the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. But lonesome vacationers and people looking to spend some time with themselves would enjoy all of the seclusion Slaughter Beach has to offer.

Broadkill Beach

The calm waves of Broadkill Beach are an experience. It is ‘super chill’ and has lots of natural beauty, including birds, crabs, and dolphins. This is a long strip of land bordering the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and the mouth of the Delaware Bay. It has only two access points, and thus, it has few visitors, so don’t be surprised when you find a whole mile of beach to yourself.

You can ride a truck (with a license) along the length of the beach, from the south end to the north end. You will pass the Broadkill Store in the middle, one of the few businesses in the area. There you can get everything you need to enjoy Broadkill, whether it is swimming, fishing, or enjoying excellent doughnuts.

Broadkill Beach is worlds away from the famous beaches, so it is perfect for people looking to have solitude and quiet.

The next set of beaches either do not allow swimming or are not good swimming spots (being located within the bay), but they provide opportunities for walking along the beach or just sitting out and enjoying nature.

Fraland Beach

This slice of Delaware is always bliss in the summer. Fraland is located within the Delaware Bay, so it doesn’t get the ocean waves. This slice of coastline is a beautiful sight to behold. Walking along the shore gives a strong sense of calm to those who have come to get away from work and stress. While swimming is allowed, it is not recommended. There are not any lifeguards on duty and the water clarity isn’t the best.

It has an elevation of about 7-8 feet, and this makes it great for camping. Take some time to explore and visit the places around Fraland Beach, such as visiting Fraland Cove. If you want to get away from the shore, you can hit the Sundog Marina for a fishing experience.

Pickering Beach

This long strip of sand has many sandy beaches and various colorful trails along the shoreline. As most city dwellers patronize it, Pickering Beach provides countless recreational activities, but swimming really isn’t one of them. It is also a horseshoe crab area, so you’ll see lots of them up on the sand, particularly during spawning season.

This is located within Delaware Bay, so you don’t get the waves of the ocean beaches. Despite that, some activities like kiteboarding are still possible. However, be advised, the sand pretty much disappears at high tide. If you visit, make sure you’re coming at low tide or be prepared to get wet.

Bennett’s Pier Beach

Another spot that is perfect for fishing is Bennet Pier Beach. It is located at the end of a long road that terminates at the Delaware Bay, so you know you are in for a treat. Despite the pier name, there is no pier here (or at least not anymore).

Bennet’s Pier Beach is like a fisherman’s amusement park as it boasts a large variety of fish. Croaker, flounder, weakfish, sharks, dogfish, skates, spot, white perch, and puffers can all be caught from this area. The perfect time to fish at Bennet’s Pier is within the last two hours of the incoming tide to the first hour of the outgoing times. At these times, you can catch some great-tasting fish.

Kayakers and Surfboard paddlers often toe the shoreline. This is a bay beach, so swimming isn’t a good idea. And visitors should not go barefoot due fishing hooks that have been lost in the sand along the shoreline.

The seclusion of Bennet’s Pier allows photographers and bird watchers great experiences. Bennett’s Pier Beach offers you stripped-down fun without any of the hassles of more crowded beaches.

Fowler Beach

Located In Sussex County, Fowler Beach is the largest official sanctuary of the horseshoe crab, a signature species of the Delaware Bay Estuary. So when you are stepping onto the sand at Fowler, know that have a pretty good chance of seeing these unusual creatures, particularly in the summer months during spawning season.

Most people come to Fowler Beach for the serene environment and to watch the horseshow crabs. Fowler Beach is a sanctuary for these animals, so visitors are asked not to disturb the crabs unless you see one on its back, and then flip them over.

Holts Landing State Park

Gorgeous views. That is the first thing you can use to describe this park. Holts Landing State Park is a 203-acre place where gorgeous extends in every direction. Located within the Indian River Bay, this is a great place for picnics and and extensive trails where you can walk your heart out.

The Seahawk Trail is one of the best trails in Delaware. It is completely ADA accessible and easy. On the trail, hikers and walkers will see birds and other wildlife common to this maritime ecosystem.

There is something for people who want to be near the water. This is a great spot for boating, kayaking, and other watercraft. It is particularly popular with fishermen looking to snag sea trout, flounder, bluefish, and perch. It’s also a popular spot for clamming and crabbing.

Holts Landing State Park is home to a great variety of wildlife. Birdwatchers and photographers all come for the beauty and the diversity of the wildlife. Spotted in the park are herons, egrets, and ibises. Hawks and Ospreys dominate the top of the food chain, and the forest is home to songbirds, raccoons, muskrats, foxes, and opossums.

Holt’s Park is open all year round, and it provides a good space for boating and recreation, but not for swimming.

While the State of Delaware may be small, it is also memorable. Whether your passion is wading into the surf or going bird watching, you can do it along the seashore here in The First State.

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