Please note this post may contain affiliate links. If you click on one, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commission I make if you decide to buy something. See my Privacy Policy for more information.

 Is it possible to heal yourself through mindfully engaging the five senses when spending time in nature? Yes. One special place to try self healing with nature for yourself is Cape Henlopen State Park. If you’re looking for hikes, bike trails, beaches, wildlife, and more, visit this lovely park. Heal your trauma, engage in healthy activities, and embrace traveling mindfully.

As a trauma survivor myself, I’ve learned how seeking nature’s spirituality in purposeful and mindful ways leads to healing. Spending alone time surrounded by wildlife and nature fosters a deep connection to yourself and contributes to your emotional well-being. The solo journey is a transformative experience. It allows you to confront and overcome physical and emotional challenges.

Healing In Delaware?!

Yes it’s true. Cape Henlopen is an ideal setting for healing spiritual work. The diversity of nature offers endless possibilities to focus on the healing aspects and the personal growth you’ve accomplished so far. It also creates a quiet intuitive space to set goals and intentions for what you’d like to heal next.

Using nature as a backdrop, explore the park and stop along the way to notice the unique characteristics of the area. Suggestions for connecting to nature are given, but of course do what works best for you. First are park logistics, then mindful practices are given.

Park Features

Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware is 5,193 acres, but it’s more than just a park. It’s a museum, beach, hiking and biking adventure, and educational nature center. You have to experience this special park to truly appreciate it.

Cape Henlopen and the surrounding area. Delaware and NJ coast separated by the Delaware Bay

Location

Cape Henlopen State Park is located at the mouth of the Delaware Bay in Lewes, Delaware. It stretches across  6+ miles of coastline. The “Point” of Cape Henlopen, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, provides sensational views. To access the park, there is an entrance fee, which may differ for in-state and out-of-state visitors.

Ferry there? 

Cape Henlopen State Park ferry

There are a variety of ways to access the park. The location is prime for boating, so if you have the chance, why not ferry across the Delaware Bay?

Getting to Cape Henlopen State Park from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry is smooth sailing, literally. If you arrive from New Jersey, why not take a ride on the Cape May Lewes Ferry? It’s super easy to make reservations and will add an amazing boat ride to your itinerary. Not to mention most rides usually include dolphin sightings. If you see something you like in Cape May, come back during the holidays and enjoy the festivities.

You could even leave your car in Cape May and take only your bike aboard the ferry! It’s an extraordinary way to be a bike nomad for a day. Furthermore, it’s much cheaper than boarding your car! Cape Henlopen is very close to the ferry and the ride is quick, whether in a car or on a bike. Keep reading for details!

From Ferry To Park

After disembarking from the ferry in Lewes, Delaware, simply follow the signs to Route 9 North. Continue on Route 9 North for approximately four miles. You’ll arrive at the entrance to Cape Henlopen State Park. It’s a straightforward and scenic drive that leads you to the park’s natural beauty and outdoor adventures. 

Park Features

From the moment you arrive on the sandy shores of the park, the rhythm of ocean waves will be your constant companion. The park’s natural beauty of rugged dunes, lush forests, and captivating shoreline, provides the backdrop for sunshine and soft breezes.

Sink your toes into the warm, soothing sands, grounding yourself in the tactile sensation. The fine grains provide a gentle exfoliation, creating a connection between your body and the Earth, promoting a sense of stability and security.

Ecosystem Education

Cape Henlopen State PArk nature center display
There’s five 1,000-gallon tanks featuring local fish

Start your tour of the park in the Cape Henlopen State Park Visitor Center. You’ll enter a world of discovery and appreciation for the natural wonders of Delaware’s coast. My favorite display was the aquarium and touch tank. 

Located at the heart of the park, this center serves as a gateway to the showcasing of diverse ecosystems. Inside, you’ll find interactive exhibits and educational programs that bring the local wildlife, flora, and geology to life.

Walking and reading the exhibits gives a deeper understanding of the delicate balance that exists in this coastal environment and maritime forest.  Learn about the park’s rich biodiversity and see some really cool animals at the Nature Center. Find out about ways people near and far are committed to animal conservation.

Splash your fingers into the cool water of the touch tank. Playfully enjoy the tactile senses between cold and wet. The animals provide entertainment and imaginative creativity. Lose yourself in watching nature in it’s purest animal form.

History

Cape Henlopen State Park WWII towers

The historic WWII observation towers, standing tall on the horizon, serve as a powerful reminder that history and strength are intertwined. Climbing to their summits, you can sense a connection to the past people who inhabited this land. Not only soldiers, but also seamen, pirates, military sailors, and medical personnel all shared this region throughout history. 

Next, explore Fort Miles. This authentic and unique fort was built into the tall dunes and today proudly serves as a historical museum. See authentic concrete gun batteries that held 16-inch guns. Read how the strategic location, the mouth of Delaware Bay, protected not only the Delaware River area, but also Philadelphia from German submarines. 

Expand your knowledge of WWII history of how German U-boat 858 was one of the first to surrender to the United States at Fort Miles in May 1945.

With all this fascinating history, it will be hard to tear yourself away from the museum and explore the rest of the park. However, so much more awaits you.

Close your eyes to listen to the audio displays. Use your breathing to transport your mind to that time and place in history. Read the stories of the men and women honored, and let your mind wander freely. With stream of consciousness exercises, not forcing a path of thought, intuition sharpens. Allow and lean into whatever arises. This is a fascinating process of self-healing and learning to trust, two valuable assets of trauma survivors.

Activities 

Everyone loves the beach! Enjoy the natural beauty of the East coast and nourish your body and soul. Spend the entire day on the sand, or just an hour. Here are some details about the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park.

Cape Henlopen State Park beach
It was chiily in September, so I didn’t swim. Still, you’ll love the pristine coastline.

Swimming

Cape Henlopen Beach provides an excellent opportunity to take a refreshing dip in the Atlantic Ocean. Lifeguards are typically stationed at certain areas during peak swimming season to ensure your safety. Revel in the white sand characteristic of east coast beaches and gentle waves of the Atlantic Ocean. As always, remember to respect the environment. Leave no trace by picking up after yourself and disposing of trash in designated bins.

Gaze upon the vast expanse of the ocean, allowing the rhythmic waves to create a visual symphony. Let the ebb and flow of tides carry you. Contemplate how the cyclical nature of healing is like the tides. How this offers a sense of continuity and reassurance.

Experience the sheer joy of bike riding in Cape Henlopen State Park! The winding trails and scenic beauty create the perfect backdrop for your two-wheeled adventure. If you don’t have a bike, no problem! The wonderful volunteers of the park take great pride in their customer service of providing a FREE bike rental for your enjoyment. 

Explore the park’s coastal wonders, from sandy shores to lush forests, all while enjoying the refreshing sea breeze. Whether you’re a casual cyclist or a dedicated enthusiast, Cape Henlopen offers a bike ride like no other. Get ready to connect with nature, soak in the views, and relish the freedom of the open road along the Delaware coast. There’s nothing like taking in the beautiful sights of nature on your bike.

Breathe in the invigorating scent of the outdoors from a bike! The experience is especially invigorating when bathed in the warmth of sunlight. The crisp, fresh air carries with it a rejuvenating aroma, awakening the senses and promoting a feeling of vitality. Reminding ourselves we are alive and well, through the intention of healing with our five senses, is a powerful process for trauma survivors.

Author engaging in  Self Healing With Nature Cape Henlopen State Park hike trail
Such beauty all around, sometimes I’d get off my bike to explore a trail

 Park trails abound in Cape Henlopen. Whether you’re seeking quiet solitude or visiting each historical display, hiking here delivers satisfying beauty. Your five senses will delight in the variety of landscapes and wilderness. In fact, diverse habitats of barrier dune, coastal beaches, and maritime forest are home to countless species of plants and animals.

 With well-maintained facilities and a friendly atmosphere, it’s a place where you can trust your instincts while relishing the freedom of solo exploration.

Listen to the gentle rustling of leaves in the wind or the soothing sound of a breeze while hiking the many trails in Cape Henlopen. Nature’s melodies offer a calming soundtrack, creating a peaceful ambiance that aids in relaxation and helps regulate a central nervous system that has been distressed due to trauma.

Although I only spent one quick night tent camping in the park, it was still glorious. The power rumbling ocean, audible from my sleeping bag, lulled me into a peaceful sleep. Camping near the beach is so different from camping in the forest! There are also cabins available for rent. As always, book early!

Birding and Science

Cape Henlopen is perfectly situated on the Delmarva Peninsula (named derived for the three states composing it (DELaware, MARyland, and VirginiA). In addition, it’s flanked by the Chesapeake Bay to the west and the Delaware Bay to east. All these details add up to the incredible opportunity for bird migration observation. Furthermore, if you get lucky (like me!) you may actually witness the scientists and volunteers reporting and logging the species they track. 

Working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, these employees were tasked with identifying migratory birds overhead. In addition, they were responsible for collecting and reporting data on bird populations and their habitats.

 Finally, their aim to educate the public (like me and you!) was met by answering many questions about their work. 

A few fun facts I learned that day…

Thousands of sandpipers, plovers, and other shorebirds use Cape Henlopen’s tidal flats to fuel their southward migration. 

 During late summer and early fall, herons, egrets, and ibises fill the marshes. 

One can expect to see an excellent diversity of migrating birds in the forests and shrublands bordering the marshes and flats. 

There is a possibility of seeing 75-100 species daily. 

Cape Henlopen State Park birding programs

The American Ornithological Union’s Checklist of North American Birds uses Cape Henlopen for their research. The state park asks birders to record their sightings on the Bird Sighting Sheet located near the entrance of the Nature Center.

I was there in mid- September, which is the peak for migrants heading to their southerly wintering ground. Although I didn’t spot any rare species, I enjoyed watching the dedicated volunteers navigate their highly technical scopes and share the ornithological knowledge.

Deep breathing is a necessary tool for trauma survivors. Encounter the healthy scents of nature while taking deep breaths and observing wildlife. Whether it’s the pine of the forest or the salty air near the ocean, connecting with these natural aromas enhances the therapeutic experience.

Encounter the earthy scents of nature while observing wildlife. Whether it’s the musk of the forest or the salty air near the ocean, connecting with these natural aromas enhances the therapeutic experience.

Community (Service)

 Since Cape Henlopen is located in the town of Lewes, many locals make great use of the park. On the particular day of my visit, there was a rehearsal of singing and dance numbers. At the end of their practice, I had a conversation with a participant.

Cape Henlopen State Park garden volunteers
Community volunteers are abundant in Lewes Delaware

I learned they were volunteers of Lewes Community Garden. This is a group of residents  (mostly retirees) of Lewes who created and manage the  first community garden. Their show intended to connect with the community, show their commitment to the gardens, and share love of community service. The reason I include this experience at Cape Henlopen Park is because it exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism and passion for community that is evident inside and outside the park.

Ok not technically not one of the 5 senses, however, if it was I’d put it in the category of ‘love’ and ‘heart’. Trauma survivors in particular experience isolation. The remedy for that is connection. Being involved with community fosters healing. When it is a choice made consciously, it becomes an act of self-healing.

Parking

Cape Henlopen State Park offers ample parking facilities for your convenience. There are designated lots near the beach access points, ensuring that you can easily reach the shoreline without any hassle.

Hours

The park typically operates during daylight hours which include beach access. It’s advisable to check the official Cape Henlopen State Park website or contact their visitor center for specific opening and closing times, as these may vary depending on the season.

Final Thoughts On Self Healing With Nature In Cape Henlopen

So, pack your backpack, lace up your hiking boots, and let Cape Henlopen State Park be your personal retreat for healing, learning, exploring, and basking in the sun. You can even complete an online therapy session! Capture the magic of nature and strength of the human spirit. Create an abundance of healing and adventure that will stay with you forever.

Share