Is Bethany Beach Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On June 12, 2023
Bethany Beach, United States
Safety Index:
81
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Bethany Beach is a coastal town on the quieter side of the Delaware coastline.

Its sister city, South Bethany, is just as quaint but more residential.

Bethany Beach is made for tourists who want to get away to a relaxing, peaceful escape.

While the town is home to fewer than 1,000 year-round residents, the population grows 15 times that many each summer.

I swear I can smell the boardwalk fries and waffle cones as I write this.

Bethany Beach has an idyllic boardwalk lined with knickknack stores and all kinds of cuisine.

From blue crabs to candy kitchens to Cabernets from the first vineyard in Delaware, you’ll never go hungry here.

I love that part of the downtown district is enclosed, making it a great rainy-day option too.

With all the beach stuff to do, you’ll work up an appetite.

Bethany was founded on the premise of being an uplifting escape for a group of Christians who lived near Washington, D.C.

That essence still lives on today.

If you want a more robust beach experience, head to Rehoboth Beach or Dewey Beach.

When you want to hear the ocean more than the outdoor speakers of a bar, the “Bethany’s” are best for you.

Even USA Today’s 10 Best ranked Bethany Beach as the #3 Best Beach in the Northeast.

NOTE: For more information on Fenwick Island, just on the other side of South Bethany, read our article focused on that town.

Warnings & Dangers in Bethany Beach

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

There's a low overall risk here. Not much happens in Bethany Beach, and that is just the way people like it.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

There's a summer trolley with 15 stops around town, with fares of just 25 cents each way (be sure to pack a pocket of quarters). The DART bus system goes through Bethany Beach between Dewey Beach and Ocean City, Maryland. Taxis and rideshare are available. Rental cars will be the best option to get there unless you want to spend the money for a long taxi ride or rideshare.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

Bethany Beach has had one pickpocket since 2011, and that was in 2021. South Bethany hasn't had any during that same timeframe. The risk is low, but the potential is always there.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW

This is an ongoing risk, so take the weather here seriously. Hurricane season runs from June through November, with nor'easter season starting in October and going through May. Storm surge, flooding, flash flooding, and severe thunderstorms can all cause problems in a town built around the beach.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

This is a low risk, with hardly any notable robberies in recent years. Not all places in Delaware are this safe, so don't get a false sense of statewide safety.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

Another low risk here, with a small town on a long stretch of beach that doesn't have any major tourist attractions or other hard targets.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

The Bethany Beach Police Department (BBPD) offers scam safety information on its website. The biggest concern here would be rental scams. They are easy to avoid if you know what to look for, but also easy to fall for if you like searching out deals. The main thing is to ask for proof of a rental license and don't wire money to secure a room. The tourism website has a list of rental agencies that are vetted and verified. Use those. Don't look on places like Craigslist for a deal that seems too good to be true.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

This is one of the safer and calmer beach areas for moms, girlfriend getaways, or even solo female travelers.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

Sussex Shores is the name of the water company here. They aren't easy to find doing a basic search, so hopefully, my rabbit hole of searching helps you. The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance with all requirements. If you have any questions, call (302) 539-8044.

Safest Places to Visit in Bethany Beach

Visitdebeaches.com is a great resource for exploring all the beaches on this coastline.

There are sections for Bethany Beach and South Bethany.

Visit Delaware’s website also has a “Things to Do in Bethany Beach” section.

Updates can also be found on @VisitDelawareBeaches on Facebook.

While the boardwalk isn’t as robust or fancy as you’ll find in Rehoboth Beach, it’s a great place to walk with unobstructed views of the beach while enjoying a snack along the way.

The boardwalk is wide and spans 2000 feet along the ocean, with a bandstand in the middle.

Check the city’s website for local events happening there during your visit.

From June through August, movies at the beach are shown every Monday at dusk.

Bethany Beach Nature Center is a four-season destination to learn about the plants and animals of this region.

From bees to science experiments to special holiday visitors, this is a great place to get away from the beach crowds.

Bethany Beach Yoga offers sunrise yoga classes or private sessions to Namaste your way to a great beach day.

A great Instagram moment is the Chief Little Owl statue at the entrance downtown.

It was a gift from a sculptor in the 1970s.

Places to Avoid in Bethany Beach

You don’t have to worry about dangerous neighborhoods here, but please respect private property.

There is enough public beach to enjoy that you don’t need to go onto private beaches or try to park in a driveway of a home that appears empty.

While most people know that you should leave the beach if a hurricane is approaching, I want to give you an example of just how quickly the weather can change here.

Look for Bethany Beach Umbrellas in August 2022 on Google.

A Special Weather Statement was issued in the afternoon.

Beachgoers mostly stayed put.

“It was sunny, then a slight drizzle, and most people stayed on the beach, which is normal,” one person wrote on Facebook.

“Then all hell broke loose instantaneously.”

The video of the beach umbrellas flying into the ocean went viral.

It’s shocking to see but dangerous for those on the beach as large umbrellas and poles went flying.

Those umbrellas ended up in Dewey Beach, to the north, buried in the sand with poles sticking out two months later.

Bethany Beach is one of many beaches in this area that has dealt with tropical storms that erode the beaches.

Don’t get crabby if there’s a shortened beach area.

Replenishment projects are ongoing up and down this unprotected shoreline.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Bethany Beach

  1. Both Bethany Beach and South Bethany have their own police departments and separate (but similar) beach rules. You can follow the respective police departments on Facebook @BethanyBeachPD and @SouthBethanyPolice.
  2. Paid parking is in effect from May 15 through September 15. Bethany Beach has paid parking or beach permit parking. South Bethany requires a parking permit, which visitors can purchase at a kiosk outside Town Hall. Please review the specific areas where you can park with that pass.
  3. In a surprising twist, while Bethany Beach does not allow alcohol on the beach, South Bethany Beach does. You have to be 21 years old to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages.
  4. Each city has a way to subscribe to city alerts. Please visit the respective town websites to sign up. This covers weather alerts, closures, flooding, and any other safety issue that impacts visitors and residents.
  5. There are sharks in the water here, but there should be a purple warning flag if there has been a recent sighting. Some anglers here will go shark fishing.
  6. All the birds around the beach are cool to see, but their waste can cause unhealthy water quality levels. DNREC is the acronym for the (long) government entity that checks water quality conditions between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You can view those results online. Signs would be posted at an unhealthy beach as well.
  7. You do need a license to go fishing or crabbing. You can get that through the Department of Fish & Game online or at local outfitters.
  8. When you’re looking at Bethany Beach tourism sites, note the address for places like fishing charters, tour boats, and kayak rentals. Most are either in neighboring Dewey Beach, Rehoboth Beach, and Fenwick Island.
  9. Lifeguards are on both town beaches from 10:00 am through 5:00 pm in the summer and on weekends in September. During this time, no surfing is allowed. Rip currents and shore breaks are two risks on these beaches. Check out the town’s website or talk to a lifeguard about best safety steps to avoid these threats or escape them if you get caught in one.
  10. Bethany Beach Runners is a company that will send people to set up your spot at the beach. You don’t have to carry anything (but your well-protected wallet and mobile device), as the crew will set up a prime spot while you’re still snoozing. Once you arrive, you’re ready for a beach vacation. They tear down for you as well and bring everything back clean and dry.

So... How Safe Is Bethany Beach Really?

I absolutely love how transparent and helpful Bethany Beach is before I even set foot in the sand.

The town website has gone to extraordinary lengths to cover everything a tourist would need to know, from hotel safety tips to tide schedules to beach regulations to newspapers.

While other websites certainly have plenty of information, the layout of this and how easily everything is grouped together really makes me feel like Bethany Beach cares that I have a great, safe experience.

Both communities are the epitome of safe, and that’s before the tourists come in and the crime rate goes even lower.

Bethany Beach has only had nine or fewer violent crimes each year going back to 2000.

All but one year (2006) had five or fewer.

Since 2010, thefts have been cut in half.

Shoplifting makes up more than one-third of the thefts.

South Bethany hasn’t had more than four violent crimes in a year since 2006.

Since 2018, there haven’t been more than 10 thefts in the whole town.

Over the past decade, in both towns, there’s a greater chance your bike will get stolen than your car getting broken into.

The ocean brings solace but also risks, so know about rip tides, coastal winds, tide schedules, and marine wildlife.

You now have all the tools to stay informed and have a great time in Bethany Beach and South Bethany.

How Does Bethany Beach Compare?

CitySafety Index
Bethany Beach81
Philadelphia60
Houston59
Atlanta58
St. Louis58
Los Angeles56
Oakland57
La Paz (Bolivia)52
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

International guests are required to have a passport and visa. You might be eligible for a visa waiver, but you'll have to check the residency rules through the U.S. State Department. You can also use the Visa Wizard while you're there to get started on the right visa path.

Currency

Currency

The U.S. Dollar is the only currency you can use here. Exchange currency before you get to these small beach towns. Your home bank offers the lowest fees. Use credit cards for purchases if you can since those offer the best fraud protection, even better than a debit card.

Weather

Weather

Summer visitors should bring all the beach clothing they can fit into the suitcase. Add hats, sunglasses, eco-friendly sunscreen, water shoes, and bug spray. A waterproof mobile phone case comes in handy too. Winter nights will get below freezing with highs in the 40s (F). Don't let the "beach" make you think it's warm here year-round. Bring winter clothing.

Airports

Airports

You won't have a close commercial airport option, but you will have the luxury of major airports, all within three hours. Choose between Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Norfolk, and Baltimore. There's a small airport in Wilmington, but honestly, if you're going to go that far, you might as well go all the way to Philly.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a wise investment to cover the costs of delays and cancelations due to the weather. Visitor medical insurance is also smart since even a jellyfish sting could cost a lot out of pocket at urgent care.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Bethany Beach Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 2° C
Feb 2° C
Mar 7° C
Apr 12° C
May 11° C
Jun 22° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 24° C
Sep 21° C
Oct 16° C
Nov 10° C
Dec 5° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
551015192527272419138
Low
°C
-1-1483182121181272
High
°F
414150596677818175665546
Low
°F
303039463764707064544536

Delaware - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Bethany Beach81
Delaware City74
Dover47
Fenwick Island79
Greater Wilmington45
Lewes72
New Castle71
Rehoboth Beach68

Where to Next?

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