Right between where the Murderkill River and the St. Jones River meet the Delaware Bay, a small town has established itself as one of the premier fishing towns in the state of Delaware. Despite its commercial successes, this town remains one of the quaintest communities in the state, where the motto of “The Way Life Used To Be” could not be more appropriate. Welcome to Bowers Beach.
This tiny town is well known in the state for at least one reason...
Many people in Delaware know about Bowers Beach for one reason only - their fireworks. They host perhaps the best Independence Day Fireworks in the state. Visitors flock to the town, park out on the beach and keep their eyes on the skies. While Bowers does have a great firework display, these "4th of July only" tourists are really missing out on one of the most interesting towns in Delaware.
Bowers Beach was one of the earliest settlements along the Delaware Bay, and it was founded by Francis Whitwell in the late 1600s.
At that time, Bowers consisted of 800+ acres of woodland and almost 600 acres of meadow. The town was built up some, and in 1685, William Frampton acquired the property and renamed it “Dover Peers.” The land changed hands a few more times, and in 1734, John Bowers purchased what remained - 420 acres. Since August 16, 1734, the area “between the mouths of the St. Jones and Murderkill Rivers” has been known as Bowers Beach. The land changed hands several more times, but the name remained. Bowers was first incorporated on March 9, 1907, and was reincorporated as the Town of Bowers in 1962.
Bowers, located in Kent County, is currently a small town of about 300 people.
Many Bowers residents are mariners, either fishing from their boats, docks, or the beach. Bowers fishermen are responsible for much of the fresh, Delaware Bay seafood that makes it to the best restaurants in the State. In the past, Bowers Beach was such a popular fishing spot that over three hundred boats would be docked or moored in town. Those who remain take this history to heart, and salt water runs in the veins of every Bowers native.
Of course, Bowers doesn't send all of its seafood to other parts of the state! The famous JP's Wharf restaurant in Bowers uses local watermen to fill their kitchen.
Whatever they find in the water is what makes it to the menu - here, you see a cooler full of Sea Trout. When JP's tells you about their "catch of the day," they really could not be more accurate.
There are always Delaware Bay oysters to be had. Bowers watermen bring in heaps of these every day, and once they're cleaned and prepared, they're among the best in the world! Whether they're sent to Wilmington, Philadelphia, Dover - or served right in Bowers at JP's - these oysters are sure to be enjoyed by whoever is lucky enough to order them.
Even if you're not an industry fisherman, Bowers is still an amazing place to throw a line.
If you've got your Delaware fishing license and are familiar with local fishing laws, you'll find plenty of great places to cast a net or line in Bowers. The community is very friendly, and you can probably get great tips from the locals.
If you aren't into fishing, Bowers still has a lot to offer.
People come to this small town to swim, kayak, sail, bird watch, and to look for beautiful, jewelry-quality sea glass in Delaware. It’s a great place to get away from busy city life, or to find a quiet retreat among the more crowded beach towns in Sussex County. Stroll around town and enjoy the slow-paced way of living, as well as the old-fashioned buildings and artifacts that you'll spot in this quaint community.
Bowers is a great place to really step back in time and remember what life was like before technology took over.
Sure, people still have their iPhones in the town, but the majority of what you see here is quaint and old fashioned. Even many of the boats docked to residences are older rowboats or skiffs that have clearly served generations well. This tiny town really represents what Delaware is to so many of us - a family history, a home away from home, or a close-knit community that really feels more like family than like strangers.
If you want to get the full Bowers Beach fishing town experience, sign up for a boat charter.
There are many charters that launch from Bowers - my best advice is to visit the town and pick your trip in person. If you've never fished before, the famous
Captain's Lady charter
company will even provide you with rods and bait and help you get started in some of the best fishing spots on the Delaware Bay. If you're gonna do something, you might as well do it right, and learn from the experts of Bowers Beach.
Recently, big storms have affected the town, roughing up boats, docks, and local residences.
Winter Storm Jonas recently brought flooding to the area, and in 2013 Hurricane Sandy battered the area with rainfall, wind, and a near record-breaking storm surge. However, Bowers locals understand that dealing with nature is part of being a bay town, and in times of strife, the sense of community in this tiny town stands out. Docks will get rebuilt, beaches will be replenished, and the ties that keep this small town strong will never be broken.
Bowers is my kind of town – quiet, quaint and full of history. Luckily, Delaware has many small towns that are unique in their own way. After you visit Bowers, plan your next trip to see one of the other small towns in Delaware. If you want to make a full day out of it, these ones offer
some amazing restaurants.