The Top 10 Dog Friendly Beaches in Delaware
With a convenient location accessible to the cities in the DMV, Philadelphia, and more, Delaware is a go-to destination for beachgoers. Clear your pet’s calendar so that they enjoy a coast that attracts millions of visitors every year. The state’s 381-mile Atlantic Coastline is dotted with pet-friendly beaches with their own unique characteristics.
Swim with your pet at beaches with top-rated water quality or explore hidden gems preserving their natural beach scenery. Year-round beaches keep your pet active in every season, while others make your pet anticipate popular beaches until the off-season.
You’ll quickly find a beach that fits your pet’s style when you check out one of these top pet-friendly beaches in Delaware.
And remember, whenever your dog is participating in a water activity, be sure to keep them safe with a dog life jacket or other flotation device.
Although pets can’t experience the excitement of ‘The Nation’s Summer Capital’ in its peak season, the off-season opens up the shores for beachgoing pets to dwell in the stunning shoreline scenery of Delaware’s Cape Region. So, when the busy summer crowds return home for the season, and popular events like the Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contest are over, it’s time for dogs to claim the clean beach.
Rehoboth Beach is a seasonal beach for pets from October 1st to April 30th. The broad beach extends for a mile-long on the Atlantic Coast, giving plenty of sand to run around in. Ocean-stained sand marks the tide level as you find the ideal spot to sunbathe alongside your pet or drive your beach umbrella into the soft sand for a bit of shade.
Pets can access the entire beach during the off-season but must remain on a leash. The clean shores are thanks to pet owners cleaning up after their pets.
Address: 1 N Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
Cape Henlopen State Park
Summertime fun on the beach is something that your pet can get used to every year you visit the Cape Henlopen State Park. Even during the peak beach season, you’ll find pets prancing around the sandy shores, dodging sunbathers soaking up the sun.
The oceanfront scenery at Cape Henlopen State Park is an excellent environment to spend an afternoon with your pet. Sloping dunes turn to soft, rippling sand as it extends towards the sapphire-colored ocean waters. Shorebirds call from overhead while soaring over the landmark observation tower from WWII still standing on the coast.
Your furry pals will have a tail-waggin’ good time with six miles worth of beach to play. Keep them on a leash less than six-feet while taking a dog walk past the jetty where anglers wait patiently for a bite on their line. Or take a dip in the cool ocean waters as they bark at windsurfers gliding across the water surface.
Dry off from your swim with a walk on the coastal hiking trails, or venture into the piney woodlands for a nature hike winding through Cape Henlopen State Park’s 129 acres.
Address: 42 Cape Henlopen Dr. Lewes, DE 19958
The soothing sounds of the gentle waves at Lewes Beach are like meditation during your morning walk or evening soundtrack to a stunning sunset. Pets can take advantage of some of the most magical moments on Lewes Beach.
Lewes Beach is a pet-friendly community with dog parks, pet-friendly accommodations, and other activities to fill your itinerary. And with the beach only open to pets in the morning before 9:30 AM and evening after 5:30 PM, it’s an excellent way to start and end your day.
Soft beige sand blankets the coast as it touches Delaware Bay. Wake up early to catch the first light shining over the beach as your pet is the first to mark its tracks on the smooth sand. After exploring the town’s nautical history and culture during the day, make your way back to the beach during golden hour to witness the colorful sky during sunsets. Take advantage of the last bit of sunlight to splash around in the water or simply relax and enjoy the view.
Address: 206 Bay Ave, Lewes, DE 19958
If you were to see Woodland Beach in the 1800s, it would significantly contrast the current setting. A thriving waterfront area and bayside amusement park were destroyed by a hurricane in 1878, restoring the coastline to its untouched state. Today, the beach attracts beachgoers and their four-legged friends on this pet-friendly beach.
Located just outside Smyrna, Woodland Beach gives you a taste of the pristine natural environment. Delaware Bay’s changing tide shaped the beach’s sloping sand. Although dogs must stay on a leash while at the beach, it won’t stop them from pulling you along for a jog as they run towards the bay. Cool waters wet their fur while doggy paddling through the steady waves. And with a leash, you’re bound to get wet when your pet shakes itself clean, but that’s all a part of the beach fun.
Dog walks down the long coastline are always exciting. You’ll pass by the fishing pier and may spot animals preserved in the region’s Woodland Beach Wildlife Area.
Address: 100 Beach Ave, Smyrna, DE 19977
Dewey Beach is a fast-growing city that wants pets to be a part of its exponential growth. Therefore, to give pets staying in one of the town’s several pet-friendly accommodations something to do, Dewey Beach is only a short dog walk away.
Did you know that Dewey Beach has some of the best water quality in Delaware? Waters off the coast of Dewey Beach received a 5-star rating by the NRDC, so they’re perfectly fine for your pet to swim in. Watch as their doggy heads bob their way across the water surface while doggy paddling or stay near the shallow shore to hop over the waves rolling in from the ocean.
All year round, dogs can have fun at Dewey Beach—with 200 days of sun every year, there’s ample opportunity to have a fun day in the sun. During the summer, pets are only permitted on the beach before 9:30 AM and after 5:30 PM.
One of the best things about visiting Dewey Beach is that pets can be off their leashes. There is a one-mile-long of beach to explore or as far as their doggy legs will take them before tiring out for the day.
Head south just before crossing the Delaware-Maryland border, and you’ll run into the state’s southernmost beach at Fenwick Island. Let your dog sniff the fresh ocean air when you visit this pet-friendly beach.
Fenwick Island is just a drive away and exhibits the natural beauty of one of the state’s barrier islands. This popular beach destination is busy with visitors during the peak season. However, pets can leave their paw prints in the sand in the off-season from October 1st to April 30th. Time your visit ideally just before the cold weather arrives or just as the spring weather returns, and you’ll be met with pristine shores.
For three miles, the shoreline at Fenwick Island stretches down the Atlantic coast. Skip over the frothy waves, splash into the water, and doggy paddle to stay float while tandem kayaks row in the backdrop. The laid-back beach vibes make it great for sunbathing on the beach.
Whether you’re visiting Fenwick Island for the day or taking advantage of the pet-friendly accommodations for overnight stays, it’s a beach vacation destination that your pet will surely appreciate.
Address: 800 Coastal Highway. Fenwick Island, DE 19944
There’s good news and bad news for pets visiting Bethany Beach. The good news is that there are no more sand traps awaiting your pet when dashing across the beach. The bad news is that they must contain their excitement from digging large holes on the beach. However, that’s the least of your pet’s worries because the vast ocean in front of them is enough to keep them distracted.
Families flock to the shore at Bethany Beach, where even your furry members are welcome to join. Pets are permitted during the down season from October 1st to May 14th. Let your pet treat the beach like their own sandbox, as there is plenty of space to make it seem like you have a spot to yourself. At one mile long and 150-ft wide, Bethany Beach taunts your pet with lots of sand to poke their nose into.
Feel the cool ocean water as you dip your feet and paws in the water. You’ll leave wet tracks on the wooden boardwalk as joggers weave between you and other dog walkers—but the 12-ft wide boardwalk is wide enough to accommodate all species.
Address: 110 Boardwalk, Bethany Beach, DE 19930
Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve
Sandy shores extend for miles in either direction as the cool ocean breeze slants the grassy patches. The coastline of the Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve is an excellent place for your pet to experience the beach in Delaware. And the best part is that you’ll rarely find large crowds here.
Beachcombing the shores of Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve with your pet will give lasting memories. Snap photos of your pet running through the fine sand and kicking up sand behind them. And you’ll have plenty of stories to tell other pet parents of the time spent swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.
Pets must stay on the northern tip of the nature preserve, where the beaches are accessible to everyone and everything—including cars! Pull up to the waterfront with your pet riding shotgun, and you’ll be a few paw steps away from getting in the water.
Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve is a year-round beach. Visitors from March through December will likely encounter lots of other wildlife in the preserve during this active season.
Address: Lewes, DE 19958
Prime Hook Beach
Hundreds of species inhabit the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, so pets are just another to add to the count! Because once you make it through the refuge to the coast, you’ll discover one of Delaware’s top beaches for pets.
Prime Hook Beach feels like a hidden gem. Even during the peak beach season, you’re likely to only see the paw prints of pets that just left before you arrived. But that means more beach space for you and your pet to enjoy.
Leashes are the only requirement for dogs that want to check out Prime Hook Beaches. Leave behind your own trail of dog prints while your pet sniffs its way down the shore. The natural beach landscape gives plenty of interesting things to discover on the shore, either washed up or dug up by inquisitive pets.
Pets are permitted on Prime Hook Beach all year long. However, it’s never staffed with lifeguards, so swim with caution. Later, finish the day in town at the pet-friendly shops that give doggy treats for four-legged patrons.
Address: 11978 Turkle Pond Rd, Milton, DE 19968
Delaware Seashore State Park
Delaware State Park makes it easy for pets to choose a favorite between oceanside or bayside beaches because it has both. The park shoreline touches the Atlantic Ocean, Rehoboth Bay, and the Indian River Bay, so there is always an abundance of surf to get your pet’s fur wet.
Veer off Delaware Route 1 to find the Delaware Seashore State Park. The expansive shoreline is full of activity—umbrella-lined public beaches with lifeguards watching over the families swimming in the water, boats cruising offshore after being docked in the marina, and dogs spotting their own kind already busy playing with their owners on the beach.
Let your pet sink its paws into the soft sand tan sand, with each step denting the smooth surface. The flat beach slopes unknowingly into the ocean for swimming with your pet or going for a dog walk.
Pets are only allowed on the Delaware Seashore State Park beach between October 1st to April 30th, and they must stay in areas away from the lifeguard zones.
Address: 39415 Inlet Rd. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971