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Rehoboth Beach/other beach towns, Delaware

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • In Lewes, the Ryves Holt House (c. 1665) is Delaware’s oldest documented house.
  • Rehoboth Beach hosted America’s first beauty pageant (1880) with Thomas Edison one of three judges.
  • Lewes has had several previous names including Whorekill.
  • Horseshoe crabs aren’t true crabs but more closely related to scorpions and spiders.
  • A jury of 12 women served during a Lewes murder trial, the first all-female jury in the West (1683).

Tiny state, big water

Although tiny, Delaware accommodates a diverse collection of beaches, offering surf-quality ocean waters and the greater quiet of bay and inland waters. The state counts about 25 miles of Delaware Bay coastline, 26 miles of Atlantic shore and 115 miles of inland bay shores.

The towns themselves vary widely, as well, ranging from Dewey Beach, most suited to the very active and the younger crowd, to Lewes, made for the history buff; from Rehoboth Beach with a little of everything to those that call themselves the quiet resorts. Towns with public beaches are tops for tourists; in other towns, the beaches aren’t public.

Some towns are mainland sites but others sit on pencil thin peninsulas that function as barrier islands, standing between a rambunctious ocean and calmer bay waters. Further, Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks are interspersed among them.

North to south, top destinations are:

  • Lewes, on the mainland and the oldest, founded in 1631. While blessed with its beach on Delaware Bay and offering the requisite water-based diversions, the town is chock-a-block with historic buildings, some of them concentrated in a historic district.
  • Rehoboth Beach, on the mainland and facing the Atlantic, founded by a church as a religious retreat in 1873. Now the state’s largest beach resort, it’s known for its boardwalk, annual festivities and shopping. It’s quite popular with beachgoers from the nation’s capital.
  • Dewey Beach, on a peninsula so thin that the Atlantic Ocean on the east is only a few blocks from the inland Rehoboth Bay. This is the town with the swinging nightlife and the spot where active vacationers find the widest range of outfitters for their water-based activities — including skimboarding.
  • Bethany Beach, on the mainland facing the Atlantic and one of the quiet resorts. Also founded by a church looking for a retreat, it is self-described as family friendly and, yes, promotes a quiet style in all things, the beach, boardwalk, dining, shopping.
  • Fenwick Island, also a quiet resort on a barrier spit (a barrier connected to the mainland) offering access to Atlantic and inland waters. This family destination abuts Ocean City, Md.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Take advantage of Dewey Beach, the area’s party town. Seek out the live music, and dance the night away. Or, if music is paramount to your plans, add in one of these Dewey Beach events: Delaware Music Festival, Dewey PopFest, Elvis Festival or Rusty Rudder Jazz Fest.
  • Windsurfing is an option at Fenwick Island State Park, as well as at Dewey Beach. Try it.
  • In Dewey Beach, also consider these options: parasailing, waterskiing and any kind of boarding: kiteboarding, surfboarding, stand-up paddle boarding and wakeboarding.
  • Rent a sailboat for a day’s outing. Or stick closer to the water, kayaking on the ocean or paddling on quieter waters of Rehoboth Bay.
  • And then, there is skimboarding. Attend a skimboarding camp. Attend or compete in one or more of the skimboarding championship events held in or near Dewey Beach.
  • Fly a kite. Make your own kite (or buy one) so you can enter at least one of the kite flying competitions at the Great Delaware Kite Festival, held in spring at the Cape Henlopen State Park.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Book a fishing charter and hook a big one in deep waters. Or, try your hand at clamming and crabbing at various locations around Rehoboth Bay and Love Creek.
  • On the other hand, surf fishing is big. Choice spots include Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks. Also, at Cape Henlopen State Park, World War II observation towers provide 360-degree views of the coastline.
  • Consider the region’s nautical roots: Tour the Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse and the Fenwick Island Lighthouse.
  • Get married on the beach.
  • Ride across Delaware Bay between New Jersey and Delaware aboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, good for bird-watching and sightseeing in general. Other promising bird-watching sites include Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Cape Henlopen State Park-Gordon’s Pond in Rehoboth Beach and Delaware Seashore State Park in Rehoboth Beach.
  • With friends or family, be a team and enter the Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contest, staged in September.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Walk the boardwalks in Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach. At the former, join seasonal morning exercise classes and hear concerts at the Bandstand. At Rehoboth Beach, sample the rides and games in Funland, the boardwalk amusement park.
  • Eat crabmeat at every opportunity.
  • At Lewes, dig the history: Pick up a map, walk the historic sections, visit the relevant museums.
  • Plan your itinerary around the September Bethany Beach Arts Festival.
  • From late July through early October, join a dolphin watching cruise at Lewes.
  • It’s time to go swimming. Find patrolled beaches in Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Cape Henlopen State Park and portions of Delaware State Park.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Southern Delaware Tourism at