Before the area became a park, the forces of nature constantly changed the narrow strip of barrier dunes between the Atlantic Ocean and Little Assawoman Bay, keeping the area wild and undeveloped. The area that is Fenwick Island State Park remained largely undisturbed as the towns of Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island were established. During World War II, this was part of Delaware’s coastal defense system, and a concrete observation tower from that era still stands near the northern boundary of the park. The area was renamed Fenwick Island State Park in 1981.
Today, Fenwick Island State Park invites visitors to its peaceful ocean and bay shorelines. Swimming and sunbathing are popular activities on the ocean side of the park. The white sand beaches gradually slope into the Atlantic, creating a broad swimming area patrolled by lifeguards during the summer. The park features a modern bathhouse, which offers convenient showers and changing rooms, a satellite park office, and a snack food concession. During the summer months, beach umbrellas and chairs may be rented on the beach. Mobi-Mat equipment, consisting of three 30-foot mats allowing those in wheelchairs and power chairs to access the beach from the boardwalk, is available here.
The ocean beaches are a favorite spot for surf fishing. Three dune crossings provide access to multi-use beaches where vehicles with a surf fishing license plate bearing a current surf-fishing decal can drive onto the beach to fish. Surf fishing vehicle decals and plates may be purchased at the nearby Delaware Seashore Regional Office located at the Indian River Marina, at the Indian River Life-Saving Station, or online. A fishing license from DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is required when fishing in tidal waters.