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Delaware Seashore State Park


Special Update - June 30

New Limits Set for Beaches

In accordance with Gov. Carney’s goal of limiting interactions among people in Delaware’s beach areas to reduce transmission of COVID-19, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced the following restrictions to be imposed starting on Friday, July 3 and lasting until further notice:

  • The number of vehicles allowed in Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks will be limited to approximately 60% of the parking capacity. When the 60% capacity is reached, all vehicles will be turned away until vehicle volume within the parks is reduced. Vehicle restrictions may be lifted periodically as volume levels are noticeably reduced within the parks. These limits, which will be enforced at park entrances by DNREC Natural Resources Police, will not be managed based on a “one-in, one-out” policy that would encourage lines of waiting vehicles and people.
  • At Cape Henlopen, when the main gate is closed to additional vehicles based on parking lot capacity, the closure will include vehicles that have arrived at the park for drive-on surf fishing as well.
  • At Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island surf fishing beaches, NRP officers will monitor the number of vehicles on the beach and will close drive-on beach entrances if vehicles fail to maintain the 20-foot distance between vehicles currently mandated by the Governor’s emergency order.
  • Masks or face coverings are required in bathhouse and concession areas of all three parks and strongly encouraged on the beach as well.
  • Campgrounds and cabin rentals will continue.

Find Your Adventure at Delaware Seashore

Views from the top of the Inidan River Inlet Bridge are spectacular.

See the Views from the Bridge

Walk to the top of the Indian River Inlet bridge for an unforgettable view of where Delaware Seashore all comes together – the Atlantic ocean, Delaware’s inland bays, and miles of undeveloped coastline.

The Indian River Life-Saving Station is located in Delaware Seashore State Park.

Tour the Life-Saving Station

Take a step back in time to tour the Indian River Life-Saving Station and catch a glimpse into the daily lives of the surfmen that patrolled out coasts and performed high seas rescues over 100 years ago.

Delaware Seashore offers a variety of paddling opportunities

Paddle the Bay

Paddle a kayak from Savages Ditch to explore the vast salt marsh islands of Rehoboth Bay and see diamondback terrapins, horseshoe crabs, and a wide variety of nesting birds such as laughing gulls, osprey, snowy egrets, tricolored herons, and glossy ibis.

 

Burtons Island Nature Preserve takes hikers is a top birding location

Go Fish

Partake in a pastime that has become part of Delaware Seashore’s legacy – fishing! Cast your line from one of the marina’s charter boats, from the rock jetties of the inlet, or from the beach itself.

 

 

 

Burtons Island at Delaware Seashore State Park

Discover Burtons Island

Hike through Burton Island Nature Preserve, and experience the changing scenery as you meander from salt marsh to maritime forest habitats.

Surfers enjoying the waves at Delaware Seashore State Park

Superintendent’s Pick: Catch a Wave

Delaware Seashore State Park is a great place for surfing! Grab your board and catch a wave after sunrise at the North Inlet Day Area beach.

Park History

Transportation along this barrier island, bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by Rehoboth Bay and Indian River Bay, was difficult until the Federal government completed construction of two large steel and stone jetties in 1939, stabilizing the Indian River Inlet. The State Park Commission (now the Division of Parks and Recreation) began managing the land as Indian River State Park in 1965, but it didn't become Delaware Seashore State Park until 1967.

Swimming, Surfing Sunbathing

Two ocean swimming areas, patrolled by lifeguards from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily during the summer season, feature modern bathhouses with showers, changing rooms and concession stands. The beach just north of the Inlet is one of the few surfing areas within the park. Mobi-Mat equipment, consisting of three 30-foot mats allowing those in wheelchairs and power chairs to access the beach from the boardwalk, is also available at the Towers Ocean and South Inlet locations.

Camping at the Beach

Two campgrounds, one on each side of the Indian River Inlet, accommodate a variety of camping units, from tents to large recreational vehicles. North Inlet campsites feature three-point hookups (electricity, water, and sewer service), with three-point hookups (electric, water and sewer) and Standard (no hookups) sites, and tent sites available at the South Inlet campground.

Two campgrounds, one on each side of the Indian River Inlet, accommodate a variety of camping units, from tents to large recreational vehicles. North Inlet campsites feature three-point hookups (electricity, water, and sewer service), with three-point hookups (electric, water and sewer) and Standard (no hookups) sites, and tent sites available at the South Inlet campground. Get info about camping at Delaware Seashore.

Indian River Marina

Anglers may try their luck along the banks of the Indian River Inlet or on the ocean beaches, and head boats and charter boats launch out of the full-service Indian River Marina, offering wet slips, fuel docks, boat storage, supplies and more. Visit our Indian River Marina page for hours and information.

Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum

Built in 1876 for use by the United States Lifesaving Service, the full-restored station today features maritime exhibits and historic reenactors who periodically demonstrate turn-of-the-century techniques to rescue sailing ships in distress. Includes a gift shop offering unique coastal and maritime merchandise. Visit our Indian River Life-Saving Station page for hours and information.

Fishing, Clamming and Crabbing

A special access pier at the Indian Inlet allows the elderly and people with disabilities to get close to the fishing action. Clamming and crabbing are permitted in some sections of the bays; please check with the Park Office for open areas. Marked dune crossings allow surf-fishing access for four-wheel drive vehicles on the beach (permits required). Permits are also required for fishing, clamming and crabbing. Click for information about surf fishing permits and fishing licenses. WARNING: The State online automated fishing license system is NOT compatible with mobile devices or iPads and may encounter printing issues with touch screen computers and apple products.

Dining

Located at the South Inlet Day Use Area at Delaware Seashore State Park, Big Chill Beach Club is an oceanfront restaurant and event tent featuring an umbrella deck with breath-taking 360° views of the Atlantic Ocean, Indian River Inlet, and Indian River Bay. The Big Chill Beach Club features casual beach fare from breakfast to dinner, full-service cocktails, wine and beer, an oyster bar and Umbrella Bar, fire pit and hang-out game area, beach amenities for the beach-goers, and catered events for up to 200 people. Open daily April to October, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. A park entry fee is charged March through November.

Bury your toes in the sand tableside at Hammerheads Dockside at the Indian River Marina! This full-service outdoor restaurant offers a fresh, vibrant menu with terrific views of the marina. Features include live music, a full-service bar, free parking, and complementary dockage for boaters (subject to availability). Open daily at 7 a.m. during the summer.

Outdoor Recreation

Hikers and bikers beat the heat on a cool stretch of the Fred Hudson Trail

The shallow bays are perfect for windsurfing and sailing. A non- motorized boat launch provides access for sail boards, kayaks, and boats in the New Road area.

Six different family-friendly trails showcase a variety of habitats for hikers, bikers, or horseback riders, and entertaining and informative programs, such as bay seining and marsh hikes, are held throughout the summer. The park hosts a popular Sandcastle Contest each July, where amateur participants create unique sculptures and castles to compete for prizes.

Independent and Self-Guided Educational Opportunities

Self-Guided Hikes

Our guided hikes have gone digital! Hike the following trails at your leisure. At each of the trailheads, scan the posted QR code with your smart phone, and use your phone’s GPS to track your location along the trail. Educational “pin-drops” will help you discover the area’s natural and cultural resources. Digital trail guides can be found at:

  • Thompson Island Nature Preserve
  • Burton Island Nature Preserve
  • Prickly Pear Trail at Fresh Pond
  • Holts Landing State Park

Museum Audio Tours

Enjoy a self-guided, cell phone audio tour of the historic Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum located at our visitor’s center. Our tour gives detailed stories and history into the daily lives of our surfmen; it’s like having your own tour guide! Learn the history of the U. S. Life-Saving Service, the precursor to the current day U.S. Coast Guard, by visiting this original 1876 shipwreck victims along the coasts of the United States.

  • Wednesday – Friday 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturdays 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Self-guided tours of the station are $4/adult, $3/senior citizens (62 or older), and $2/child ages six to 12 years old. Children 5 and under are admitted free.

NEW! Take-Home Craft Packets

Social distancing has created some challenges with our ever-popular crafts programs, so we’ve made some take-home packets to do on your own. Available for purchase at the Indian River Life-Saving Station, call (302)-227-6991 for more information.

  • Paint Night: Nautical Flag Art $15
  • Sailor Valentines $10
  • Searching for a Signal $3
  • Shark Discovery $3
  • Crafty Crabs $3

Private Programs

Looking to find out more about park programs for private groups? We provide a variety of programs for ALL ages. We can cater to your staff, scout troop, class, or community group. Call the Indian River-Life Saving Station at (302)-227-6991 and ask for our Programs Coordinator. Private program bookings can be scheduled on the following days:

  • Wednesday – Friday 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Saturdays 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Pre-registration required and minimum participation will be required.
  • Prices on programs vary.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday Hike Series: Indian River Inlet Bridge

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

4:00 PM

Get out of the house mid-week and enjoy a guided hike with a park interpreter. Pre-registration required. All hikes are at 4 p.m. and are $5 per person. Call 302-227-6991 for more details

Add to Calendar 12/2/2020 4:00:00 PM 12/2/2020 5:00:00 PM America/New_York Wednesday Hike Series: Indian River Inlet Bridge Get out of the house mid-week and enjoy a guided hike with a park interpreter. Pre-registration required. All hikes are at 4 p.m. and are $5 per person. Call 302-227-6991 for more details Delaware Seashore State Park

Wednesday Hike Series: Thompson Island Nature Preserve

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

4:00 PM

Get out of the house mid-week and enjoy a guided hike with a park interpreter. Pre-registration required. All hikes are at 4 p.m. and are $5 per person. Call 302-227-6991 for more details

Add to Calendar 12/9/2020 4:00:00 PM 12/9/2020 5:00:00 PM America/New_York Wednesday Hike Series: Thompson Island Nature Preserve Get out of the house mid-week and enjoy a guided hike with a park interpreter. Pre-registration required. All hikes are at 4 p.m. and are $5 per person. Call 302-227-6991 for more details Delaware Seashore State Park

Winter Solstice Hike

Monday, December 21, 2020

4:00 PM

Enjoy a guided hike around Burton Island Nature Preserve with a park naturalist. At the conclusion of the hike, enjoy watching the sunset over the Indian River Bay. Pre-registration required $5 per person Call 302-227-6991 for more information

Add to Calendar 12/21/2020 4:00:00 PM 12/21/2020 5:00:00 PM America/New_York Winter Solstice Hike Enjoy a guided hike around Burton Island Nature Preserve with a park naturalist. At the conclusion of the hike, enjoy watching the sunset over the Indian River Bay. Pre-registration required $5 per person Call 302-227-6991 for more information Delaware Seashore State Park

Map and Directions