Breakwater Harbor
Cruising and Travel

Breakwater Harbor always has something for visitors to do. Lewes is a small town, but it is well-equipped to host seasonal residents and visitors. Among the beaches available near Breakwater Harbor are Lewes Beach, Cape Henlopen Beach, Dewey Beach, Rehoboth Beach, and Ocean City, Maryland. Visitors to Breakwater Harbor will want to take a tour of the Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse described above.

Breakwater Harbor and Lewes enjoy a humid subtropical climate with cool but mild winters, warm summers, and fairly evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. Temperatures range from an average low of -2°C (28°F) in January to an average high of 30°C (86°F) in July. Precipitation varies slightly around an average of 3.8 inches per month.

Just to the east of Lewes, Cape Henlopen State Park offers the best Breakwater Harbor has to offer for nature-lovers. There are several campgrounds, many trails, and courts for tennis and basketball. Every Easter weekend, the Great Delaware Kite Festival brings enthusiastic crowds to the Park. The three-thousand acre park also has a nature center and many areas for surf-fishing. The 24-meter (80-foot) tall Great Dune and an old World War II observation tower overlook the beach and Breakwater Harbor.

There are two designated swimming beaches at Cape Henlopen State Park that are protected by lifeguard patrols between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. The northern beach has a bath house with showers and changing rooms as well as a food stand. Visitors will also enjoy the 18-hole disc golf course.

During the winter, hunting is allowed in some park areas, although a permit is necessary. A 4.8-kilometer (three-mile) paved trail loops the park, offering opportunities for biking and skating. Hikers will enjoy both the paved trail and the almost ten kilometers (six miles) of beaches that line Breakwater Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean.

Within the State Park is the Fort Miles Historical Area in the shadow of a World War II observation tower. Protecting Philadelphia, Breakwater Harbor, the Delaware River, and the Delaware Bay, Fort Miles was an important part of the United States' coastal defenses at the time.

The 543-acre base forms the heart of Cape Henlopen State Park. In 2005, it was added to the US National Register of Historic Places. Tours of the Fort include interpretive programs, dances led by swing bands popular in the 1940s, and guided tours of Battery 519 where the war department operated two 12-inch guns. Plans are in place for a coast artillery museum at the site of Battery 519.

Breakwater Harbor's Zwaanendael Museum contains pieces from the social and military history of Lewes, the first European colony in Delaware. The museum was constructed in 1931 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of European settlement of the State. Displays include Dutch architectural pieces from the 17th Century and historical information about the Zwaanendael settlement, the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, the British bombardment during the War of 1812, and the natural Delaware coastline.

The National Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater Historic District encompasses Breakwater Harbor, the series of breakwaters behind Cape Henlopen that were built to create a shipping haven in an area were safe harbors were rare. At the mouth of the Delaware Bay estuary at Lewes, most of the district is offshore, but it also includes land housing the former US Coast Guard station.

This Breakwater Harbor Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. The US Congress first commissioned a study in 1822 to explore the feasibility of creating the safe shipping haven at what would become Breakwater Harbor. The result was a recommendation for a permanent harbor. Today, the Lewes Coast Guard Station is the Delaware River pilots' station. The 1938 balloon-framed Coast Guard building faces Breakwater Harbor.

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