More than just sand and surf: Region’s beaches are home to wealth of outdoor adventures

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When you visit the beach the very first outdoor activity is, of course, the sand and the surf. But people aren’t just content to loaf around in the sun and work on their tans anymore.

In the Rehoboth-Lewes area, there’s been a substantial buildup of trails for cyclists and hikers, but the calmer waters of the Delaware Bay as well as the coastal bays up and down Delmarva provide lots of people the chance to get out on the water for exercise, either kayaking or on standup paddle boards.

Matt Carter has owned Quest Adventures in Lewes for several years now. It offers a range of experiences for people who want to sight-see and take in the beaches in a more unique way.

“You get to see things from a different perspective,” Carter said. “You’re right up close to the dolphins and the birds and the sights and the smells. It’s just very relaxing.”

His most popular tour involves the dolphins who spend the night in Delaware Bay then wake up to go feed in the Atlantic.

“We get anywhere from 10 to 200 dolphins right next to us,” said Carter. “We’ve had them where we’re like ‘Oh, there’s one 20 to 30 yards away,’ but then there’s times where they are literally two feet from you staring you up and down. You can just see them, their eyeballs looking up at you. And then sometimes when they spray out the mist will hit you.”

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Another popular option is what he calls the pints and paddles tour, which sends kayakers up the Broadkill River into Milton, Delaware, the home of the Dogfish Head brewery.

“You’re on the river all day and having a brew afterward just tops it off,” said Carter.

Standup paddle boards, which is an even tougher workout and involves more of your core to stay moving, is also something you’ll find available to rent up and down Coastal Highway, both in Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland.

But if you’re looking for someone else to captain your boat, there are other options available.

Up and down Assawoman Bay you’ll find JetSki and parasailing rentals, and further down toward the inlet, there are even more kinds of activities that’ll take you out on the water.

On the Talbot Street Pier, the owners of Talbot Street Watersports have boats taking you out for scenic nature tours, faster trips up and down the ocean side of the beach, fishing trips and even pirate adventures for your younger ones.

Sean Coughlin said for those wanting to relax, they have guided nature tours up that take you down to Assateague Island.

“You get a chance to see the wildlife, the ponies, the birds that are down there,” Coughlin said. “We do stop on the island for about 15 minutes.”

He said people riding the OC Rocket, which is a larger power boat that runs up and down Ocean City, sometimes get an up close view of the dolphins swimming in the Atlantic.

“They’re attracted by the vibration of the engines and the wake of the boat, the captain will slow down and they will sometimes swim around the boat,” said Coughlin.

If you’re looking to get on the water, but need to keep your kids entertained, there’s also what’s called the Duckaneer. It’s a pirate adventure aimed at kids in elementary school. Coughlin said the owners got the idea from similar cruises down south in Florida and South Carolina.

Kids dress up like pirates, with face painting and eye patches and talk about treasure.

“You do get out on the water,” said Coughlin. “You have about a 10 minute water battle with Cutthroat Jack, who attacks you for the treasure. I can’t tell you the outcome, but you’ve got 10 water cannons and he’s got one supersoaker. He’s the only guy we pay to go out and lose every day. Kids win the water battle and they all get the handful of treasure from the treasure chest and there’s a song and dance coming back to the dock.”

“It’s turned out to be just as popular for the adults as it is for the kids,” he said. “I will watch fathers fight with their kids to get on the water cannons to squirt Cutthroat Jack whose trying to steal the treasure. ‘It’s not working right let me see that!’ and the kid never gets back on the cannon again.”

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