Fenwick Island State Park: Nature at Your Own Pace

Visitors to both the Delaware and Maryland coastlines can escape the hustle and bustle of boardwalks, shopping and busy beach resort areas at Fenwick Island State Park. Nestled between Maryland’s Ocean City to the south and Delaware’s Bethany Beach to the north, the park offers up a peaceful and scenic three-mile stretch of ocean and bay shoreline surrounded by the amenities of nearby beach resort towns.

While the surrounding areas have been heavily developed, Fenwick Island State Park remains 344 acres of mostly undisturbed coastline between the Atlantic Ocean and Little Assawoman Bay. The ocean side of the park is a prime location for sunbathing and swimming. Umbrellas, rafts and chairs are available for rental during the summer months, and the beach is patrolled by lifeguards from 9 am – 5 pm Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends each year. Those looking to catch some waves will also find one of Delaware’s few designated surfing areas at Fenwick Island State Park. A concession stand, showers, changing rooms and a gift shop are also available at the beach.

On the western side of the park, Little Assawoman Bay is often dotted with a colorful display of sailboats. Those who wish to take to the water themselves will find sailboat and windsurfing board rentals, and beginners can arrange lessons. There is no boat launching ramp in the park itself, but there is one in the Assawoman Wildlife Area across the bay.

Those looking to do some surf fishing can purchase vehicle permits at the bathhouse gift shop during the summer months. Permits offer access to three dune crossings with prime fishing access. Visitors who wish to try their luck at crabbing or clamming can do so on the bay side of the park.

Fenwick Island State Park offers scenic outdoor fun even in the non-summer months. Bird watching and 2.6 miles of beach hiking are available year round. For horseback riders, there is a designated beach area for equestrian use and access parking for tow vehicles and trailers.

During a day trip to the park, visitors can take advantage of picnic tables near the concession stands and, at the lifeguard’s discretion, may bring and use gas or charcoal grills outside of the guarded areas. Alcohol is allowed on the surf fishing beaches.

In addition to providing swimming, surfing, sunbathing, fishing, sailing, windsurfing, hiking and horseback riding opportunities, Fenwick Island offers up unique sightseeing. A concrete observation tower from the World War II era is still standing in the northern area of the park. While not within the park itself, the 89-foot Fenwick Island Lighthouse, built in 1858, is nearby. A trip to the historic lighthouse grounds can easily be incorporated into a day or weekend trip to the area.

With so much to do in Fenwick Island State Park and the surrounding areas, visitors often wish to stick around for a few days. Those looking for something other than hotel lodging in the many nearby resort areas can find several campgrounds close to the park. One such campground is Treasure beach, where outdoor enthusiasts can also roam the swamplands of Daisy Marsh.

Most appealing about Fenwick Island State Park as a vacation, day trip or weekend destination is the versatility of the park and the surrounding area. Regardless of the season, there is something for everyone, which makes travel planning for families or groups with varying interests a breeze. Within the park, the active outdoors-lovers in your party can swim, surf, hike, and go surf fishing or wind surfing. Those who prefer to enjoy nature at a more leisurely pace can sunbathe and stroll the beaches in search of natural treasures. Those in your party who prefer to be surrounded by more urban conveniences can leave the park and head to the many shopping areas, restaurants, boardwalk entertainment options and nightlife venues in the surrounding Delaware and Maryland resort areas.

For more information about Fenwick Island State Park, you can contact the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation at 302-739-9220 or visit http://www.destateparks.com/park/fenwick-island/index.asp. The Delaware State Parks web site also features a “request park information” link that allows you to submit your inquiries online.