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Virginia may not come to mind at first as a beach vacation destination. However, the state has both Atlantic Ocean beaches and Chesapeake Bay beaches that offer sandy shores for beach lovers to enjoy. From popular beaches lined with shops and facilities to remote state park shores that give a more rustic beach escape, this list of the best beaches in Virginia is full of unique options for your next beach getaway.
Found on Virginia’s Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Cape Charles is a quaint beach town that is at the southern end of Delmarva Peninsula. Cape Charles Beach is obviously the main attraction here, with white sand, shallow waters, and free parking. Rent a kayak from one of the local outfitters, or explore the small town of Cape Charles. Cape Charles is a historic town with plenty of boutique shops and local restaurants.
Virginia Beach is Virginia’s most popular shore. A popular vacation destination, Virginia Beach is a bustling city with a sprawling, sandy coastline. With a three-mile boardwalk, you’ll find that restaurants and shops are within walking distance of the beach. There are actually a number of beaches within Virginia Beach’s city limits. However, this beach, in particular, is the one along the boardwalk. With plenty of chair and umbrella rentals, souvenir shops, and seafood joints, this beach has plenty of amenities that draw tourists from all over the region.
Found on the Northern Neck Peninsula, Colonial Beach is a Virginia beach town with the second-largest beachfront in the state. Since it’s within a reasonable driving distance from Richmond and Washington, D.C., Colonial Beach is a great option for a day trip. The beach here is the main attraction, however, the area is also full of history, like the George Washington Birthplace National Monument. The town is also by the Potomac River, where you can kayak or fish from the Potomac River Beach.
Assateague Island National Seashore is a barrier island that spans 37 miles. This island is partially in Virginia and Maryland. If you’re seeking a more rustic beach at a remote location, the Assateague Island National Seashore is the perfect option. This seashore is best known for its wild horses and pristine sandy shore. During your stay here, you’ll want to check out popular tourist spots, like the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague Lighthouse.
While tourists swarm Virginia Beach, the locals head to Sandbridge Beach. This remote shoreline within the city of Virginia Beach is found on the Currituck Banks Peninsula. Since there are no hotels and only beach rentals in the area, Sandbridge stays somewhat secluded. However, during the summer months, you can expect lifeguards on duty. If you are staying near Sandbridge Beach, take some time to explore nearby False Cape State Park.
For a great place to experience Virginia’s natural landscape and escape the populated shores, head to Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve. The rolling sand dunes, salt marshes, and lagoons here draw wildlife, especially native and migrating birds, which make it an ideal spot for birdwatchers. Since Bethel Beach has untouched shorelines for the sake of wildlife habitat, it does lack amenities like trash cans, restrooms, and other facilities. If you plan accordingly and bring water shoes to explore the coast, you will have a remarkable time at this natural beach area.
If you’re looking for calm waters for children to wade or a peaceful spot to take out your paddleboard, Ocean View Beach in Norfolk is a great option. This 7.5-mile beach is a quiet beach that is usually frequented by locals. This Chesapeake Bay beach has plenty of access points. But if you want to be near facilities, head to Community Beach Park or Ocean View Beach Park. Anglers will have plenty of piers to drop a line from, but the Ocean View Fishing Pier is a popular choice.
This state park in Virginia Beach isn’t just a place to visit during the summer months. As a popular camping, hiking, and cycling spot, First Landing State Park is a recreational hub for tourists and locals year-round. When it comes to the beach, the shore here offers calm waves and natural scenic views with dunes and forest, compared to the hotel-lined shores at more popular beaches. Take one of the four boardwalks in the park that reach the beach. However, a popular access point is at the Chesapeake Bay Center, which has parking and restrooms.
This mile-long beach in Hampton, Virginia not only has a sandy shore but also great amenities, like a playground, picnic areas, and lifeguards on duty during the summer season. Aside from the beach, many beach lovers flock here to enjoy the summer performances that occur at the pavilion, such as concerts and outdoor movies. Buckroe Beach is a popular alternative for those not wanting to deal with the paid parking and traffic that often occurs at Virginia Beach.