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October 2017

Plum Beach Island

Delmarva, particularly, the Delaware side has plenty of beautiful scenery. It is quiet. It is peaceful. The beaches are not like the ones I grew up with. I grew up going to beach towns with high rises, condos and Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Myrtle Beach, S.C., this section of the East Coast of the United States, it is not. The beaches in Delaware, particularly on the Delaware Bay side, are unspoiled. Plants grow in their natural state, birds migrating up and down the East Coast stop here for a layover in the marshes. It is hard to decide which beach is better on Delmarva. They are all pretty beautiful, but I think I have found my new favorite: Plum Beach Island.

Plum Beach Island, Delaware is quiet, peaceful and secluded.

This secluded little beach is out of the way, sandwiched between Broadkill Beach and Lewes Beach. To get there, you have to head toward Broadkill Beach, turn right at the Broadkill Store and then continue to drive until you have reached the end of the road, and there it is: Plum Beach Island. It is beautiful, peaceful and we have yet to see a crowd of people.

Plum Beach has a little parking lot and a small path leading to the beach. If you love nature and quiet this is the place for you. The views are spectacular. The beach opens up into the Delaware Bay, where you can watch the ships heading for Wilmington or out to the Atlantic Ocean. From the beach, you can see a wind turbine off in a short distance in Lewes. It is pretty cool looking.

The waters off of Plum Beach are pretty calm because it is on the bay side. If you do not have strong swimmers in your family, the waters off Plum Beach are pretty tame. The scenery is what makes this place worth the visit. It is beautiful.

Wildflowers grow on a long winding path leading to the beach. On the right-hand side of the path is a marsh, where Herons and other birds migrating up and down the East Coast stop.

Plum Beach Island is surrounded by Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, which includes wetlands.

Delaware is a very ecologically-friendly state. If you visit any of the state parks, like Plum Beach Island, or Cape Henlopen State Park, you won’t find a lot of trash cans. They offer you bags and you are expected to take your trash with you. We live pretty close so we have never really brought much with us; just our dog, Bandit. He loves it there.

You are expected to pick up after your dog, too. The people who vacation or live near Plum Island and Broadkill Beach are a pretty tight-knit and they take preserving the pristine beaches near their homes seriously. They are also really nice, too. So as the sign says in nearby Broadkill Beach: “Leave only your footprints.”

If you go, here are some things you may want to consider bringing: a blanket, towels, sunscreen, binoculars, and a change of clothing. My one son says he does not “like” to go to the beach, but every time we go he always ends up jumping in the surf. The beach has portable bathrooms, so you could always change there if you aren’t staying in one of the nearby houses.

 

Secluded Plum Beach Island is often forgotten. It is off the beaten path before Lewes.

This is a day trip for us, but the houses along the bay our rented out. Even though we live nearby. My kids and I joke that we want to rent one of the houses. I am seriously thinking that I might one weekend just for the views.

You also want to bring a cooler with snacks if you plan on staying for a while. This beach is not near any boardwalk, so no Thrasher’s Fries here. The closest store is The Broadkill Store, which is about a mile away. The store is only open during the summer “Season.”

The sunsets are gorgeous in Delaware from almost any location, but they are particularly gorgeous at this secluded spot.

If you are a budding photographer, this is a must-see spot. My son had a lot of fun snapping pictures with my iPhone. Perhaps, I am biased, but I think he is a pretty good shooter. Delaware is home to a lot of very talented photographers. It is no wonder. The wildlife, the water, the beautiful sunrises, and sunsets were meant to be photographed. So, be sure to pack your iPhone, digital camera, drone or instant camera. This really is a photographers’ paradise.

 

If you decide to stay in one of the beach houses along Plum Island or Broadkill Beach know that you will be away from the crowds, but not too far from civilization. Lewes and its restaurants are about six miles down the road. So are other amenities such as the movie theater, a bounce house, and a bowling alley. Rehoboth Beach is also about 12 miles away.

If you are looking for quiet family time and to reconnect. This is indeed the place.  My kids were content jumping in the waves with our dog and writing silly messages in the sand.  I could imagine if we did rent a house for a weekend, we would roast marshmallows in the bonfire we built and play flashlight tag on the beach.

Scrolling messages in the sand on Plum Beach Island State Park, Delaware.

The kids also loved finding shells on the beach and horseshoe crabs, which are always kind of neat. Horseshoe crabs are abundant in the Delaware Bay. There is also plenty of other plants and wildlife to marvel over, too. I think I love this place. If you are a fan of peace and quiet you may love it, too.

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Fall is the best time to visit Delmarva

Before my husband and I had kids we loved visiting Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach in the fall.

Hotel and house rentals were suddenly much more affordable. The crowds were substantially less, and the weather was generally perfect.

We made it a point to head to a beach on Delmarva every September until the kids arrived and school became the priority.

 

It never dawned on me when we lived outside of Baltimore that we should head to the beach for a  weekend with the kids in September, or even in October for that matter. I wish we would have. Beyond the bargains and the perfect weather, there is still plenty to do and see on Delmarva during the start of fall and the end of summer.

The beach and the boardwalk are still options. The water is still warm, and a lot of stores and shops, at least at the Delaware Beaches, are staying open a little bit longer to try and extend as much of the “season” as they can. This is also the time of year where you can get bargains at the speciality shops that line the streets of Delmarva’s beach communities. I could easily go broke in downtown Rehoboth Beach. The shops have the cutest things.

Nanticoke 40th Annual Powwow Millsville, Delaware

Cultural festivals and special events also are in full swing. The weekend after Labor Day my kids and I hit the  40th Annual Nanticoke Indian Powwow in Millsboro. Then later that same afternoon, we headed over to Rehoboth Beach to the Sand Castle competition. The weather was perfect and it was just a really great day.

We were outside. We got to see dancers from different Native American tribes. We got to learn a little history and experience a different culture. We also got to ride on a tractor. Less than 20 minutes away, we got to hang out on the beach and check out the different sand sculptures. Teams crafted mermaids, crabs, sandcastles, of course, and even the Mystery Machine from Scooby Do. A really smart girl carved out the state of Delaware. She won in the kids’ group. She was sweet and let my youngest take a picture holding her trophy.

That is the thing about Delmarva, you could go to a powwow in the morning and end up at a sandcastle competition in the afternoon. There always is something going on; even when there is nothing going on.

Here are some other perks of visiting Delmarva in the fall:

  • Free parking: the meters, thankfully, have been turned off. Park wherever you like, it is free!!! If you have visited the beaches during the summer, then you know, this is huge! The parking meters in Rehoboth, for example, are expensive and annoying. Just charge me $20 for the day and be done with it. The meters are turned off in Rehoboth Beach and most other places by the second Sunday after Labor Day.

 

  • Dogs allowed: Starting Oct. 1st leashed dogs are allowed on practically all of the beaches. This is great news for us because we just got a rescue dog from First State Shelter in Camden. Our dog loves the beach and swimming. People on Delmarva LOVE dogs, so you will find most outdoor restaurants will allow you and your pup to sit outside. A lot of restaurants even put out water bowls and dog treats for furry tourists. Plenty of hotels and even rentals will let you bring your dog.

 

  • Less traffic: If you have ever driven down to the Delaware beaches or Ocean City, Md. from Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York  and have used Coastal Highway during the summer you have experienced the “beach traffic.” Immediately following Labor Day weekend, the traffic is far, far less. You can pretty much zip along to anywhere you want to go with little to no waiting. Yay!

 

  • Inexpensive lodging: Whether you are staying a hotel, inn, renting a beach house or staying at a cabin at one of the state parks, the rates are going to be substantially lower because it is now the off season.

 

  • Deals abound: Now is the best time to stroll the streets of the downtown beaches. Most of the shops, if not all, are still open and they have substantially marked their goods down. If you are going to towns such as Bethany Beach or Rehoboth Beach, you are going to find a lot more than beach towels. We are talking one-of-a-kind art work, clothes, jewelry and toys.

 

  • Fewer crowds: This is the best part. There is plenty of elbow room. There are still a lot of people  taking advantage of the off-season rates and weather, but there is room to move. It is, dare I say it, the best time of year at the beach.

 

  • Fall Festivals: Once summer is over, the chambers, nonprofits and farms hold events such as Rehoboth Beach’s Sandcastle Competition, outdoor movies on the farm, the Sea Witch Festival, Zombiefest and evening hayrides at Killens Pond State Park. The list goes on and on.

 

  • Nature Trails: Delaware is largely underdeveloped. Nature centers abound once you cross the bridge from the northern part of the state. Delaware Bay and the nature centers like Dupont Nature Center outside of Milford and Prime Hook outside of Milton attract all sorts of shore birds on their way to or from the North and South. Dolphins can be seen jumping in the bay waters off Lewes and Rehoboth.

 

  • Historical Sites: Delmarva is rich in culture and history. In Cambridge, Maryland, people can visit places such as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad. In Lewes, Delaware, Fort Miles still has the barracks and towers that were used by U.S. troops keeping the East Coast safe during World War II. In Virginia, learn about life on the eastern shore at the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown. There is a lot of history on Delmarva. Now is the perfect time to discover it.

 

  • Federal Parks: Delmarva is home to some amazing federal parks. In Maryland, Assateague is amazing. You can see wild horses in their habitat. In Delaware, Prime Hook is a great place to fish and watch birds. In Virginia, Chincoteague has a lighthouse and wild horses. It is cool.

There are probably at least 20 more reasons to love Delmarva in the fall, but these are just a few.