“Quiet” Playground in Summer; Relaxing Natural Refuge Year-round
Bethany Beach is a small, quiet, family-friendly coastal town in extreme southern Delaware offering a well-maintained mile-long beach and a 12-foot wide elevated boardwalk that runs along a little less than half the beach area. Adding to its appeal is Delaware Seashore State Park, a six mile-long barrier island immediately to the north of town.
Bethany Beach is affluent, provides access to one of the highest rated school districts in Delaware and its property taxes are well below the national average. And it is growing. Since 2000 the population is up 24 percent. The median price of a house or condo is also up, from $184,000 in 2000 to $428,731 in 2013. The median age of residents is 68.
With a population of 1,120, Bethany Beach is a compact little town, at least for most of the year. During the vacation season it balloons to an estimated 15,000, but Bethany is prepared for and does a good job of managing the crowds. To keep things quiet and family friendly, the town tightly restricts smoking and prohibits serving alcohol after 11:30 p.m. It also maintains a 10-employee police department. Limited alcohol availability tends to send “unquiet” visitors south to Ocean City, MD or north to Rehoboth Beach which are comfortably distant and conveniently close.
Violent crimes are pretty much unheard of in Bethany Beach, though like all resort towns officials urge visitors and residents to be alert in crowds and lock doors. Homeowners who plan to be out of town should take advantage of the town’s free daily residence check by police officers. "RU OK" is another free program in which a resident can check in with police every morning by typing a code into their phone.
A 30-member U.S. Lifesaving Association Advanced Certified Agency beach patrol insures the safety of beachgoers in season and also backs up police in seeing that beach ordinances are observed. Bethany has a reputation for hiring excellent lifeguards who see their responsibility as more than a summer job. They provide ocean rescue, First Responder care, and general public service. Fire safety is provided by a 60-member all volunteer fire department.
While the ocean, scheduled activities and award winning restaurants attract summer crowds, year-round residents share the summer excitement, but find fall, winter and spring offering unique coastal beauty summer vacationers never see. Winters can occasionally get cold (average Jan. low is 28), but ocean temperatures tend to moderate temperatures and limit snowfall. (Of course, beware the occasional Nor’easter). The wettest month is August.
Coastal storms can be problematic, but this is true of all towns on the Atlantic.
Summer offers the most excitement in Bethany Beach. Residents and visitors enjoy kayaking, surfing, boating, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, fishing, guided tours, whale and dolphin watching, concerts and movies on the beach and many other activities designed to boost tourism. A unique asset of Bethany Beach is the Assawoman Canal which can be accessed in neighboring Ocean View and provides inland water access to Delaware’s rich plant and animal life. Also reachable on the canal are Indian River Bay, Assawoman Wildlife Areas, White Creek and Salt Pond. Salt Pond is a picturesque area of wetlands and ponds located within Bethany and just 3/4ths of a mile from the beach. Nearby is a mid-length, executive 18-hole golf course.
Because Bethany is not a barrier island, it blends into the towns of Ocean View and Millville to the west. This creates a greater variety of housing prices and lessens traffic bottlenecks on busy holiday weekends.
Often, outdoor activities are possible on select days from March through November. But on days when winter makes the outdoors uncomfortable, the region offers a variety of inside options from movies to the South Coastal Library located in Bethany Beach. A short drive puts Bethany residents in the heart of outlet shopping, Rehoboth Beach and the quaint seaside town of Lewes which offers a hospital, new library and ferry to Cape May.