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11 Best Beaches near Dover, DE

The beaches near Dover aren't best for swimming, but the further south you travel, the more fantastic options open up, including popular state parks, beachside camping, and thriving ocean resorts.
ItIsWild.com: Best Beaches near Dove, DE

Sitting in Delaware Bay, the beaches closest to Dover aren’t swimming or surfing-friendly. Yet, the further south you’re prepared to go, the more options open up.

The nearest traditional beach with wide sandy dunes, colorful umbrellas, and swimming is Lewes Beach, some 50 minutes away. 

Right next to it is Cape Henlopen State Park, with its excellent amenities, camping, and plenty of water activities. 

If you’re prepared to drive for about an hour, many more options become available. Check out what Dover has to offer!

Beaches near Dover:

  1. Pickering Beach
  2. Bowers Beach
  3. Lewes Beach
  4. Cape Henlopen State Park
  5. Deauville Beach
  6. Rehoboth Beach
  7. Towers Beach
  8. Coin Beach
  9. Bethany Beach
  10. Fenwick Island State Park
  11. Maryland Beach

1. Pickering Beach

Horseshoe Crab in Delaware
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Dover:  9 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: walking, beachcombing
  • Amenities: small parking

Pickering Beach is the closest ocean shore from Dover to experience if you don’t want insanely long travels. 

The waters here are not ideal for swimming. As such, you can come here to relax, calm your mind, make plans, or just walk and breathe the fresh, salty air.

Pickering Beach is known for its horseshoe crabs. But these brackish water arthropods are not actually crabs. They are closer members of spiders, instead. 

They inhabit this beach in huge scores. Once they turn upside down, they have trouble getting back up. So flipping them over is one of the beach’s main activities.

Besides that, Pickering Beach is also quite tranquil. It’s a place to kick back, read a book, and use the ocean sounds as white noise. There aren’t any amenities, though. 

2. Bowers Beach

Bowers Beach Delaware
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Distance from Dover: 14 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: paddleboarding, sunset watching, beachcombing, boating, fishing
  • Amenities: parking

Bowers Beach could be an awesome place for beachcombing, sunset viewing, and just lazing around. 

Like Pickering Beach, this one too is awash with horseshoe crabs if you would like to see or even save some by flipping them upwards.

In most seasons, the water at this beach is not usually great for swimming. As such much of what you can do here is fish, paddleboard, or lounge to catch intensely alluring sunsets. 

If you want to learn more about the area, you could visit Bowers Beach Maritime Museum. It’s close to Bowers Beach and showcases Delaware’s treasures as well as tells the rich history of the town. 

Worth mentioning, JP’s on the Wharf is also nearby in case your palette is dying for mouthwatering seafood cuisines.

3. Lewes Beach

Cape Henlopen State Park Public Beach aka Lewes Beach in Delaware
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Distance from Dover: 42 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing
  • Amenities: restrooms, parking, lifeguards

Lewes Beach, aka Cape Henlopen State Park Public Beach, is the nearest traditional beach to Dover. It has miles of sandy real estate, excellent swimming, and a resort-like atmosphere during the warm months.

What makes it special is that it sits on the Delaware Bay side, creating a sheltered environment where you don’t need to worry about strong waves and swells. 

Also, it’s a rather shallow beach that is knee-deep in many places, making it ideal for families with kids.

During the summer, this stretch of shoreline is dotted with colorful umbrellas as the crowds flock to this fun place. 

There are restrooms, seasonal lifeguards, and ADA access. The town of Lewes provides plenty of opportunities for overnight stays, eating, and exploring.

4. Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park Herring Point
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Dover: 45 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: swimming, hiking, golfing, biking, camping, canoeing, kayaking 
  • Amenities: restrooms, parking, observation tower, picnic chairs and tables, pavilion, rentals, campgrounds, cabins

The most fun-filled and developed coastal areas are those part of state parks. One such glorious place near Dover is Cape Henlopen State Park. It’s sitting right next to a former military base with its rich history and is just 45 miles south of the city.

The park is really expansive. Thankfully, there are bike rentals to help you navigate around easily. 

A walk along the sand ramp will lead you straight to an observation tower. It offers superlative views of not just the beach but the endless ocean horizon as well.

The park’s beach is vast, and unlike many places, you can drive to the water and set up camp from the back of your truck. The sand is soft here, so you’ll need a capable vehicle for that.

Fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are very popular at the beach.

Cape Henlopen State Park boasts splendid verdure settings that make for memorable hiking sessions.

There are also spots that are designated for family picnics-complete with chairs and tables. When stomachs start rumbling, the snack bar within the park will come to your rescue.

5. Deauville Beach

Deauville Beach
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Dover: 45 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: swimming, fishing, paddleboarding
  • Amenities: boardwalk, toilets, parking, lifeguards, tennis court

Deauville Beach sits between Cape Henlopen State Park and a hugely popular Rehoboth Beach (below), some 45 miles from Dover.

Besides summer, this place is rarely crowded. Therefore, no matter the time of the day, there’s parking available. The water here is ideal for swimming, fishing, or paddleboarding. 

Deauville Beach is neat and well-maintained. While lounging here, you’ll find the views of the ocean to be extremely immersive. It’s an excellent alternative to the hectic Rehoboth Beach.

The town nearby offers restaurants and other modern amenities, all less than a 10-minute drive away.

6. Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach
Source: unsplash
  • Distance from Dover: 44 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: swimming, sunset viewing, paddleboarding, kayaking
  • Amenities: boardwalk, parking, concession stands

Once you part with a small parking fee, Rehoboth Beach is yours to explore. Located in eastern Sussex County, Delaware, this spot is bubbling with lots of water activities – more so during the summers.

This is a popular coastline for both locals and tourists. As such, you will always bump into friendly crowds fueled with beach vibes. There’s a mile-long boardwalk that leads to the beach.

Lining the fringes of Rehoboth Beach is a string of bars, restaurants, hotels, beach homes, and shopping centers. Its proximity to these amenities and the city’s other widely known attractions makes it a top selection for those with families.

7. Towers Beach

towers beach delaware
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Dover: 46 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: swimming, surfing, camping, birding
  • Amenities: snack bar, boardwalk, showers, changing rooms

Towers Beach is part of Delaware Seashore State Park. Its natural beauty makes it one of the most photogenic shoreline settings in Delaware.

This location is the perfect mix of wild and developed. It’s rarely crowded, and you can spot birds of prey hunting for fish. Yet, it has restrooms, nice showers, and plenty of parking.

Combing for shells, surfcasting, swimming, and kayaking are all popular activities here. And there is plenty of space to take walks along the shore or find secluded spots.

8. Coin Beach

Beach in Delaware
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Dover: 52 miles (1h 5min)
  • Activities: swimming, camping, fishing, shelling, surfing
  • Amenities: parking, campgrounds, restrooms, picnic pavilions, playgrounds

If you are a camper who also happens to be seeking a beach experience, you gotta check out Coin Beach, an extension of Delaware Seashore State Park. This beach gives you the easiest access to Delaware Seashore State Park South Campground – a popular beachside camping spot.

Coin Beach gets its name for the treasures that hide below its sand. It’s known as one of the best beaches to metal detect in the US, frequently yielding historical coins as well as modern artifacts.

Coin Beach has pristine water, which attracts swimmers and scores of surfers, including windsurfers and boogie boarders.  

It should be nice to know that Coin Beach is close to convenient amenities like Matt’s Fish Camp eatery, South Shore Marina, and Big Chill Beach Club. All these spots will make your day even more fulfilling.

9. Bethany Beach

Bethany Beach Delaware
Source: unsplash
  • Distance from Dover: 55 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: swimming, surfing, fishing, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, beachcombing
  • Amenities: restrooms, lifeguard, showers, boardwalk, ramp, rental chairs and umbrellas, parking

If you’re a Delaware local, you have most likely heard of Bethany Beach. It’s part of a rustic town of the same name that comes alive every summer when swarms of visitors come to enjoy the sun, the ocean, and the salty air.

This location is the perfect compromise between hectic places like Ocean City in Maryland and wild beaches. It has a boardwalk, shops, and restaurants and is known for its densely positioned lifeguards.

The town has a museum and a golf course and offers a wide selection of hotels and lodges, making vacations easy. 

On summer weekends, parking is difficult to find, so arrive as early as possible. The ocean weather with strong swells and waves may spoil a day on a beach, but generally, it’s an excellent choice.

10. Fenwick Island State Park

Fenwick Island State Park
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Distance from Dover: 58 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: swimming, surfing, fishing, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, beachcombing
  • Amenities: restrooms, lifeguard, showers, boardwalk, ramp, rental chairs and umbrellas, parking

Fenwick Island State Park is one of those few parks with beaches that you can have all for yourself, lounging alone like an emperor. 

It offers access to both the bay and the Atlantic, making it an excellent spot for surfing, swimming, and beach combing, as well as paddling and birdwatching in the quieter bay.

There are plenty of amenities like showers, restrooms, rentals, and boat ramps, including ADA access. And for food lovers, there is a snack bar nearby with many options to choose from.

The drawback here is the lack of campgrounds. It’s over an hour away from Dover, so it would be nice to come for a weekend. 

If you’re looking for a quieter alternative to the hectic Rehoboth Beach and Coin Beach, this is an excellent choice.

11. Maryland Beach

ocean city maryland Beach
Source: dreamstime
  • Distance from Dover: 62 miles (1h 25min)
  • Activities: swimming, paddleboarding, fishing, picnicking
  • Amenities: umbrella and beach chair rentals, piers, lifeguards

Maryland Beach starts as you cross the Delaware border while traveling south on Route 1. It sits at the northern end of the famous Ocean City, Maryland.

This beach stretches for miles, and the further south you go, the busier and more developed it gets, with piers, hotels, and resorts along the road.

Ocean City is a mecca for beachgoers, and it has something for everyone. Families can enjoy beach games, sandcastle building, movie theatres, and a wide choice of accommodation. Adult entertainment includes bars, clubs, and restaurants that are stacked on top of each other.

It may be too hectic for a peaceful weekend on a beach, but if you’re looking for a vacation spot, this is the best option near Dover.

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