Discover Delaware’s Inland Bays with Delaware State Parks Programs

by Dave on June 24, 2009

Delaware Seashore State Park offers a number of opportunities for visitors to explore and experience the wonders of the inland bays.  On each Thursday through August 27, the Park offers pontoon boat tours on Indian River and Rehoboth Bays.  On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through August 29, visitors can tour marsh islands in Rehoboth Bay via kayak.  And, on Sundays, July 12, 16, August 9 and 23, visitors can explore the Assawoman Wildlife Area via kayak, located at the west side of Little Assawoman Bay.

Each of these adventures has limited participation.  Reservations are strongly recommended for the pontoon boat tours and required for the kayak tours.  Call (302) 227-6991 for reservations or more information about any of these tours.

The pontoon boat tours provide a unique opportunity to view the beauties of the inland bays on the west side of the Park from the Sand Dollar, a 47-foot pontoon boat.  There are two distinct tours each Thursday:

From 10 a.m. until noon, the Park conducts an estuarine ecology tour on Indian River Bay that includes simple water tests and collection of marine animals and plants.  Naturalists will discuss the economic and ecologic importance of the inland bays, and the threats human activities pose to the delicate bay ecosystems.  Visitors will have an opportunity to participate in the testing and collection activities. Time will be taken to view bird life around Burtons Island, a Delaware state nature preserve. The program fee for the morning tour is $18 per person.

From 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., the Park conducts a sightseeing tour that includes a short jaunt across the northern part of Indian River Bay and a large circle in Rehoboth Bay.  The route includes close passage by a small island favored for nesting by herons and egrets.  Naturalists will discuss estuarine and salt marsh ecology and the connections between humans and the inland bays.  Participants will also have an opportunity to observe behavior of egrets, ospreys, cormorants, and various species of gulls.  Area residents and visitors will get a waterside view of the many communities that border the bays, including Pot Nets and Dewey Beach. The program fee for the sightseeing tour is $13 per person.

Both trips depart the Indian River Marina in Delaware Seashore State Park and participants should look for the Sand Dollar near the Marina’s office.  Participants may begin boarding ten minutes before sailing times. Use of sunscreen for these tours is strongly recommended.

The Rehoboth Bay kayak tours, offered at 9:30 a.m. each Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, allow visitors to capture an exceptional view of the abundant life on salt marsh islands on the east side of Rehoboth Bay.  While cruising through shallow marsh creeks, visitors will have the opportunity to see ospreys, herons, egrets, nesting gulls, diamondback terrapins and other marine life.

Participants will receive basic instruction and all boating equipment is provided.  Those new to kayaking are encouraged to enjoy this adventure. Trips involve about an hour and a half of paddling and some walking may be required in low tide conditions. The program cost is $30 per person and pre-registration is required.

The kayak trip through the Assawoman Wildlife Area is an exploration of the marsh creeks and hardwood forest on the west shores of Little Assawoman Bay.  This tour is designed for paddlers with some experience as wind, current, and boat traffic may be present.  This adventure is also an opportunity for an up-close view of nature not experienced by most visitors to Coastal Delaware.  The program cost is $30 per person and pre-registration is required.

All kayak tours use sit-on-top boats. Visitors will need to wear close-toed shoes as well as clothes that can get wet.  Participants should bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and drinking water.  Those on the Assawoman Wildlife trips should pack a small snack in addition to a supply of drinking water.

More information on any of these adventures can be obtained by calling the Indian River Lifesaving Station Museum at (302) 227-6991.  This is also the number to call for reservations.

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