Get that Barrier Island Feelin’!
Watch the sunrise over wide beaches with soft sands and gentle surf. Stroll through the many shops and dine at more than a dozen restaurants along the one-mile stretch of Ocean Highway between Fenwick Island State Park and Ocean City, Maryland. Then enjoy a sunset over the bay.
Chartered by the Delaware Legislature in 1953, the Town of Fenwick Island sought to set itself apart from Ocean City by establishing family-friendly and “quiet” standards. The Fenwick Island Lighthouse has warned mariners of dangerous offshore shoals since 1859. It is a conical 87 foot tower featuring a Fresnel lens and is situated just feet from the Transpeninsular Marker which divides Delaware from Maryland. The light is still operational but it was decommissioned in 1978 by the U.S. Coast Guard. A volunteer citizens group maintains it and welcomes visitors.
The island was a remote and seldom-visited outpost until the 1920’s. From that time until the 1940’s, modest cottages with no heat or indoor plumbing began to show up on the unmarked state land. The Department of Transportation ushered in a new era with the establishment of Coastal Highway and the requirement that Fenwick Island be properly surveyed and lots sold to tax-paying settlers of the “town”.
Vestiges of those first modest cottages remain. In many instances, though, homes have been remodeled with all of the modern conveniences and enough room for an extended family to enjoy a luxurious vacation week in this quiet resort. Detailed web-based listings of homes for rent throughout the year, as well as four motels for short term visits, are easy to find from the comfort of your home or office – wherever you may be.
The town features a small park with shuffleboard courts, children’s play equipment and shaded benches for relaxing. A basketball court is provided and, soon, there will be a public kayak launch onto the bay. The park is adjacent to the Town Hall at 800 Coastal Highway. A Memorial Day service and Christmas Tree Lighting, as well as other programs, are sponsored by the town and civic organizations that support the town.
Each street end offers a public dune crossing to the beach. Most crossings feature a bench at the top and several have rigid polymer mats that make access much easier for those who are mobility-impaired. Lifeguards are provided on most days between May 15 and September 15. Property owners and lease-holders may get a permit for a bonfire on the beach, too.
The town has about four hundred permanent residents and about 5,000 visitors on a peak summer week. Twenty-four hour police protection is provided throughout the year. Parking is regulated and trash service is provided. There is a distinction, though, between regulations and services provided to those within the town limits and those who are in the unincorporated part of Fenwick Island. Please check www.fenwickisland.delaware.gov or call (302) 539-3011 for more details. The Town Hall staff will be pleased to help you in any way that they can.
So, come to Fenwick Island and get that barrier island feelin’. You’ll be glad that you did!