Delaware Beaches Drive-On Guide Updated 2023
Delaware Beaches State Park Drive On Passes Information – Updated 2023
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As many of you may already know, Delaware has removed the cap on drive-on permits being issued in 2023 after the fiasco we all experienced in 2021 and 2022. Last year, the website servers crashed the day the driving tags went on sale. Many couldn’t purchase the tags because of this – it was a nightmare! Instead of opening the tags up for sale to locals and Delawareans first, Delaware has completely removed the limit but will enforce a few new rules.
- You’ll now need to reserve your spot ahead of time from your desktop or phone, or the Division of Parks and Recreation’s call center. Call here: (302) 739-9220)
- However – Reservations can’t be made in person or the central office in Dover – so don’t even try!
- Reservations have to be printed and displayed somewhere visible in or around your vehicle.
- Expect there to be a run on printers in Sussex County! Jokes aside, that’s the most inconvenient part of this whole situation.
- You’ll only need to reserve a spot on the weekends and holidays starting Labor Day, until Memorial Day.
- Lastly, reservations are $4 a day and active from 8am to 4pm
There are a host of other rules that we won’t get into since we’re not surf fishing lawyers, but that’s the main meat and potatoes.
What types of surf fishing permits will be available in the 2023 program with the pilot changes?
Two types of surf fishing permits will be available in 2023:
• 2023 Annual and Two-Year Surf Fishing Permit – Year-round vehicle access, including summer weekends and holidays; a reservation will now be required to drive onto state park beaches during peak time periods.
• 2023 Off-Peak Surf Fishing Permit – Year-round vehicle access, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays starting the third weekend in May through Labor Day weekend, 36 days total.
Surf Fishing Permit Pilot Program Changes FAQs as of 03/15/2023 2
Will pricing change for the 2023 surf fishing permits? Delaware Surf Fishing Permit pricing remains unchanged for 2023.
• A fee of $4 per reservation will be charged to reserve drive-on access during peak times for the Annual and Two-Year Surf Fishing Permits. This fee is not included in the cost of the surf fishing permit.
• Permit rates will remain the same with Resident, Senior Resident, Senior Non-Resident, Non-Resident and Delaware Firefighter/EMT as options.
What about Two-Year Surf Fishing Permits that carry through 2023?
Anglers who purchased a Two-Year Surf Fishing Permit that expires in 2023 will be subject to the new
A full refund of the second year will be available upon request at park offices, excluding agent locations. Refunds will be provided until March 31, 2023. The decal and permit paperwork must be
turned in at the time of refund.
Reason for the Change
Since 2019, Delaware surf fishing permits have been capped at 17,000 annually and, over time, the popularity of the permits has significantly increased with 2022 permits selling out in just few hours. A number of changes have been implemented to improve the surf fishing experience. Removing the sales cap and adding the reservation system was found to be the best path forward to manage the limited amount of drive-on multi-use beaches while protecting the natural resource.
General Delaware State Park Drive-On Fishing Information Below
About the Drive On Permits
• Surf fishing vehicle permits are issued for the calendar year. They allow vehicles to access designated beaches at Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island State Parks and Beach Plum Island Nature Preserve for the sole purpose of surf fishing.
• A surf fishing permit is valid only for two-axle vehicles that are licensed and registered to operate on public highways.
• The surf fishing vehicle plate and current sticker must be properly displayed on the vehicle for which the permit was issued and shall be affixed prior to operation on the beach.
• Operating a vehicle without a current surf fishing vehicle permit and plate on state park beach areas or dune crossings is prohibited.
• Driving on swimming and surfboarding beaches during summer season day-use hours is not permitted. The permit does not give the right to access other state or private beaches not owned
or administered by the Division of Parks and Recreation.
• The owner’s copy of the permit receipt shall be available for inspection at all times when the vehicle is being operated on beach areas.
• Loaning a surf fishing vehicle permit or plate, or using or attempting to use a surf fishing vehicle permit or plate on any vehicle other than the one it was assigned to is prohibited. In addition to other actions that may be taken, the permit and plate will be confiscated and held as evidence.
Driving on State Park Beaches
• Vehicle use on the designated beaches is restricted to persons actively engaged in surf fishing. Operation of a permitted surf fishing vehicle on the beaches administered by the Division for reasons other than traveling to and from fishing areas for the express purpose of surf fishing is prohibited.
• “Actively engaged in surf fishing” means a person is taking all reasonable and necessary actions to maximize the probability of hooking and landing game fish by rod, reel and line attached to a baited rig, artificial lure or artificial fly. Persons are also actively engaged in surf fishing when they are within 50 feet of their fishing equipment and are tending, casting and recasting their fishing
• Any permitted surf fishing vehicle parked for any period of time on state park beaches without one or more persons who arrived in that vehicle being actively engaged in surf fishing is prohibited.
• The use or operation of any vehicle whatsoever on, over, or across state park sand dunes is expressly prohibited, except when displaying a valid Delaware surf fishing vehicle permit and crossing dunes at authorized dune crossings, which are designated and maintained for that purpose.
• No vehicle shall be driven through, over or upon any beach area that has been posted as an endangered
and/or protected species bird nesting area.
Surf Fishing Safety
Surf fishing vehicles must be equipped with a shovel, jack, tow rope or chain, board or similar support for the jack, and a low-pressure tire gauge when being operated on state park beaches.
• Operating any vehicle on any authorized dune crossing or on any beach area at any speed that is greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions is prohibited. Vehicles must be operated with regard to existing and potential hazards, but never exceeding 15 m.p.h. In every event, speed shall be controlled and limited to that speed necessary to maintain traction and steerage.
• The Division of Parks and Recreation shall have the right to suspend surf fishing vehicle permits for up to 90 days or to revoke permits for up to three years for conviction of reckless operation of a surf fishing vehicle, for operation of a surf fishing vehicle under the influence of alcoholic beverages and/or drugs, or for violations of these regulations.
Violations and Surf Fishing Fines
Violation of the rules and regulations may result in a fine of $50 to $250 for a first offense and $100 to $500 for a second offense. Violators will be cited and permits may be revoked if state park regulations are not followed.
Other Drive On Information
• The use of mechanically-propelled bait or line casters is prohibited on all surf fishing beaches.
• The surf fishing vehicle permit serves as the permitholder of record’s fishing license when fishing in designated Delaware State Park surf fishing areas, as long as all rules and regulations are followed. Other anglers must have valid fishing licenses issued by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, a Fishermen’s Information Network (FIN) number is required to fish in Delaware waters. FINs are available at delaware-fin.com/registerfin.asp or by calling 1-800-432-9228.
• Dogs are allowed in all surf fishing vehicle areas, but must be under control and on a leash not to exceed six feet in length.
• In addition to giving access to designated beach areas, the surf fishing permit also allows free entry to day areas in most Delaware State Parks.
• The Carry-In, Carry-Out program is in effect in all surf fishing areas. Carry out trash you carry in, and dispose of nylon fishing line properly. Loose, discarded line entangles wildlife and beach cleaning equipment.
• Surf fishing areas are subject to closure at any time in the event of weather conditions (high tides, coastal storms, etc.). Surf fishing vehicle areas may be limited or closed when such action is deemed necessary for property management, protection of flora, fauna and their habitats, or when it is in the best interest of the health, safety, and general welfare of visitors.
• In order to protect fragile plants and grasses that stabilize the dunes, and to leave nesting or fledging shorebirds undisturbed, people, pets and vehicles are not allowed on the dunes or in bird nesting areas.Only designated crossings may be used to cross the dunes. Violations are subject to fines.
• Designated surf fishing beaches are open for other recreational activities. Caution must be exercised when sharing the beach.
• The beach ecosystem is very important and must be protected. Any damage done to the dunes should be reported to the nearest park employee.
Dunes are a fragile resource that provide important habitat for a host of plants and animals and protect the coastline during severe storms. While dunes and the plants and animals found there usually survive storms, they are easily damaged by the harmful impact of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The dunes are protected by law, and access across is strictly limited to designated crossings. Use of the beach is strictly limited to the seaward toe of the dune down to the high tide line.
Bird Nesting Areas
When nesting is identified along beaches, areas may be closed to all traffic, including vehicles, pedestrians and pets. Official state park regulations are located at regulations.delaware.gov/AdminCode/title7/9000. Permit regulations are strictly enforced.
Passes, Tags, and Fees
The First State features a surprising variety of natural areas. Treat yourself to a day at a state park and enjoy beautiful ocean beaches, inland ponds, forests, rolling hills, or piedmont streams. While you are having fun, you are also helping to preserve the best of Delaware’s natural heritage. The fees you pay stay within the parks to play an important role in protecting open space and wildlife, support recreational activities and nature education, and provide visitor assistance and safety.
Passes and Tags
Park Access and Refunds
The purchase of a park entry pass or surf fishing permit does not guarantee access to Delaware State Parks property, programs or functions when the number of visitors is restricted due to a high volume of visitors at peak times, or other instances of restrictions to include, but not limited to: government restriction, state of emergency, strike, flood, fire, or unforeseen catastrophe. Purchases can be returned within 30 days of sale if the pass or permit has not been opened.
Daily Park Entry Fees
This information was sourced in January 2022 from The Delaware State Parks links: