I went to assateague island with my Mom this past summer. She told me about the wild horses and wanted me to see them for myself. Assateague Island National Seashore is near Ocean City, MD and not far from Salisbury, MD. It is also within an hour and a half drive time of the Delaware Beaches (Lewes/Rehoboth). We arrived at this beach early in the morning, around 1030am.
The Seashore is located at the end of Rt 611. You do cross over a little bridge that takes you out onto the island seashore. That is pretty neat in itself. Parking here was $15.00 for the car. At 1st I thought it was a little much, but then realized that is for a 7 day pass. We parked our car at the 1st parking lot you come to. We then made our way across the parking lot to the restrooms. They are a little cold and dark inside. Also, the toilets look like deep dark wells & I couldnt help wondering how they keep kids from falling down them. Also, there were lots of mosquitos in the restrooms..I couldnt wait to get out of there! I did not see any bath-houses here...no changing rooms or showers. I did see some sprinkler heads on posts that could be used to rinse your feet off.
We walked one of the wooden boardwalk style paths that lead to the beach. At the top of the beach we stopped & read the informational signs and picked up a surf safety broschure. Then we headed towards the beach. Once we made our way down to the beach, we found ourselves a nice spot right at the waters edge & next to a lifeguard stand. That was a plus!! Some areas of the beach have lifeguards & other areas do not. Boogie boards and other flotation devices are not permitted in the lifeguard areas, so be sure to check the beach flags to determine which area you are in. I did see the lifeguards making people with boogie boards move down the beach & they would blow their whistles at them if they entered the lifeguard areas.
We were able to spread out our beach blanket and relax here. The beach was not that crowded when we were there. I was surpised since it was a warm august day. But, with the extra space, we didnt have to worry about people stepping on our blanket or kicking sand at us. Im used to this kind of behavior on the crowded Delaware beaches. So, this was a nice change of pace. The sand we rested out blankets on, was soft and fine..no large rocks or pebbles here! It was very relaxing.
The water was pretty calm the day we went. The waves were not terribly large, but still lots of fun. There did seem to be a bit of a current. So, you may want to keep an eye on younger or less experienced swimmers--OR stay in a lifeguard area. The water and beaches were both clean. I was a little skeptical at 1st when my Mom told me we were going to a beach with free roaming wild horses. I didnt really want to sit in or near any horse droppings. BUT to my surprise, the beaches were amazingly clean. I did see some horse droppings on the roads on the way in and along the path leading to the beach...but it was not that bad.
While we were there, I did see some pelican type birds flying out over the ocean. This was pretty exciting for me, since all we ever see in Delaware is seagulls. Also, while we were there..a little sand crab crawled up onto our beach blanket. This was very shocking to me..I did not expect it. I do not ever recall seeing these little guys at the Delaware beaches & I had to take a photo. In addition to the pelicans and sand crabs..I saw lots of sand fleas. The kids were digging them up at the waters edge & you would see the sand bubbling up when the water washed over the sand where the sand fleas were dwelling. This brought back some memories of my days at the beach as a kid...digging up sand fleas and building sand castles.
This beach is famous for its wild horses that roam the beaches freely. I was excited to see them, since my Mom had told me about them. I did not see one all morning & then finally after a few hours..one horse did make its way down onto the beach. There are signs everywhere that remind the visitors NOT to feed, touch, or approach the wildlife/horses. The horse did walk down and around people and their blankets. People started to rush over and take photos of the horse. The lifeguards did blow their whistles and motion for people to back up if they were getting too close to the horse. But, it was still a pretty neat experience to see the wild horse on the beach. The wild horse seemed pretty calm with all the people standing around, so they must be used to all the attention. I still wouldnt want to get too close. Since there are wild horses here..you can imagine there are flies (biting flies)...so bring your insect repellant.
All in all, we had a good day at the beach. I would probably go to this beach again. It is just so much further than the Delaware beaches that are just around the corner from me. The water and wildlife are both nice here. The prices for parking here are reasonable, especially since it is a 7 day pass...much cheaper than the DE beaches. I wish they offered a ONE day pass here for less.
Liked: Soft sand, clean beaches, wild horses, did not see any jellyfish the day I visited, pets not permitted in certain areas
Diskliked: Mosquitos and biting flies, the occasional horse dropping, well-like toilets/restrooms
1. I did not see any concession stands. I would recommend packing a cooler & picnic basket. OR there are plenty of restaurants in downtown Ocean City..a BBQ stand within 5 minutes of the beach on RT 611 (Smoker's BBQ Pit)..and some fast food places on RT 50. ALSO..I believe I saw a picnic table and an outdoor BBQ on the beach near the informational signs, just before you go down onto the beach--if you want to BBQ at the beach itself.
2. There are some fresh produces stand along the roadside on RT 611, on your way to the seashore. You can pick up some fresh fruit for your cooler or some amish baked goods. I enjoyed stopping here on my way into & out of the park.
3. There are campgrounds at this beach as well. I did not stay here so I cannot comment on them, but please know that they exist.
If you own or manage Assateague Island National Seashore, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.