20 Beaches In Virginia

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The eastern seaboard of America has some fantastic beaches, with many of the best of in Virginia. But in addition to those that lie on the coast, Virginia offers several other excellent beaches located inland at its various state parks and designated recreational areas.

From ocean to freshwater, these Virginia beaches offer a fantastic place to relax and escape the pressures of daily life. So whether you are looking for a long stretch of sand to walk on or an eatery in a seaside town or a place where you will be completely alone, Virginia has a beach for you. So, tick these Virginia beaches off your list when you next feel the urge to feel the sand between your toes.

Beaches In Virginia

Virginia Beach 14th street pier at sunset
The 14th Street Pier at Virginia Beach is a lovely spot to enjoy the sunset.

20 Virginia Beaches

1- Virginia Beach

quiet virginia beaches close up detail of a large public statue of King Neptune
One of the unique landmarks by the ocean is the King Neptune statue that welcomes visitors to Virginia Beach.

The most famous beach in Virginia is undoubtedly Virginia Beach.

Providing excellent access to the Atlantic Ocean, this stunning three-mile (4.8 km) stretch of sand is next to Chesapeake Bay, offering fantastic food options and other recreational activities.

One of the best times to go to this beach is sunrise when the colours of the sun rising over the water are mesmerising.

If you’re not an early riser, there are many other sights to charm you, like dolphins frolicking in the waves.

Snorkelling is a popular past-time, too, along with cycling on the trails that lead you through the nearby Back Bay National Refuge.

When you are not sunbathing, surfing, or building sandcastles on the beach, there is also a lovely boardwalk to explore too.

2- Bethel Beach

beaches near virginia the flag of Virginia on flipflops
In summer, pull on your flip flops and head to one of these beaches in Virginia for sand, sun and sea.

Bethel Beach is an excellent option if you are searching for a beach where you can switch off.

Lying within the Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve, the beach is on a narrow coastline flanked by sandy dunes.

Covering some 105 acres, it is notable for its dunes that regularly change shape because of the winds and tides that kiss the shoreline.

This means that you will never see the same landscape twice.

While the Natural Area Preserve is a fantastic spot to relax on the sand, it is also a lovely place to explore.

The salt marshes and lagoons provide lots of wildlife spotting and photography opportunities.

In keeping with its remote location, there are no restrooms, waste disposal facilities or changing areas.

3- Cape Charles Beach

Cape Charles Beach people in the water and on the sand with houses in the background
Cape Charles Beach is one of the best beaches in Virginia for families to cool off.

On Virginia’s eastern shore, Cape Charles Beach is in a charming small town of the same name.

Lying just 10 miles (16 km) north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, it is easy to find, but despite this, the beach is rarely overcrowded.

With shallow and calm waters, it’s perfect for young families and dogs.

Fishing, kayaking, and other boating activities are also popular here, while there are plenty of small, locally-owned restaurants and boutique shops for you to check out.

4- Jamestown Beach

Jamestown beach in Virginia sunset over the rocks
The view at sunset from Virginia’s Jamestown Beach is a paradise that early settlers must have marvelled at.

Jamestown Beach is possibly one of the best-kept secrets in Virginia.

Situated not far from the historic Jamestown Settlement, this quaint beachfront park is a lovely spot to while away an afternoon.

Featuring a charming pier and scenic picnic areas and restrooms, this family-friendly beach also has lagoons and a shady park that provides a welcome respite from the sun.

The park does charge a small day fee for non-residents to access it, but the serenity you will enjoy is well worth this nominal amount.

5- Sandbridge Beach

beaches Virginia (Sandbridge) sand dunes and wide expanse of sand leading to the ocean
Sandbridge Beach is a peaceful residential beach in Virginia.

While other beaches reside in the city’s heart, Sandbridge Beach is nestled within a quiet residential area that offers a peaceful alternative to collect your thoughts.

This reasonably spacious beach has various marshes to explore and wildlife to observe.

The beach is conducive for hiking among the dunes or kayaking and fishing.

There are few cafes and restaurants, so you should bring your own provisions.

If you are looking for somewhere quiet and peaceful, this beach delivers that in spades.

6- Smith Mountain Lake Beach

best beaches in virginia
Some of the best beaches in Virginia are river beaches.

Located around the second-largest lake in the state, Smith Mountain Lake is arguably one of the best-loved lake beaches in Virginia.

Flanked by a cottage community, it features a beautiful freshwater beach on the lake with many swimming areas and plenty of space for jet skiing, boating and fishing.

So it is well set up for families and water sports enthusiasts to enjoy.

You will also find a public fishing pier and several scenic picnic areas.

In addition, there are various camping facilities should you wish to stay longer and plenty of trees in which to chill out on a hammock.

7- Chesapeake Beach

beaches in virginia couple in white pants walking on the beach
Looking for the best beaches in Virginia? Here are our top 20.

Known by locals as ‘Chic’s Beach’, Chesapeake Beach is one of the best beaches in Virginia.

You won’t be alone here as huge crowds descend upon it during the weekends and holiday seasons.

But you will be able to indulge in a range of water sports activities, including paddle boarding and jet skiing.

The sand here is excellent for building sandcastles, while walkers and cyclists have decent trails to enjoy.

Other attractions to enjoy during your time here include the Chesapeake Beach Rail Trail and Chesapeake Beach Railway Station, marinas, piers, a water park and charter boat fishing.

8- Kiptopeke State Park Beach

beaches in virginia
A seagull walking on one of the beaches in Virginia.

If the thought of visiting a crowded city beach breaks you out in a cold sweat, then the much more tranquil offering at Kiptopeke State Park Beach should be more to your liking.

Once the terminal for the ferry between Little Creek and Cape Charles, this park is now a popular recreational area for hiking, biking and birdwatching.

There is also a quaint pier to fish off, whilst the beach offers good sunbathing and safe swimming for families, especially those with children.

There are several wooden cabins available to hire and other types of accommodation for those who want to camp.

9- Colonial Beach

Colonial Beach Virginia colourful sign that spells LOVE
The colourful ‘love sign’ at Colonial Beach in Virginia.

Colonial Beach is a charming beach in the small and historic town of the same name.

The town of is one of the only seaport towns remaining on the Potomac River, and the sand extends for 2.5 miles (4 km).

It was popular during the early part of the 20th Century with residents of Washington D.C., but now people from all over the country flock here to swim, sunbathe, fish, sail or stroll along its boardwalk.

This Virginia beach also has several marinas nearby and a range of excellent cafes, restaurants and shops to peruse.

10- Ocean View Beach

Ocean View Beach Virginia entrance to sandy beach and blue water
Ocean View Beach in Virginia is a sandy beach to spend the day relaxing.

Possessing over 7.5 miles (12 km) of golden beach, the aptly named Ocean View Beach is an excellent beach for those who enjoy beachcombing and long romantic walks.

The clean, flat sand is also perfect for sunbathing, and the calm waters make swimming very safe.

For these reasons, it’s one of the beaches in Virginia that is popular with young families who also come here to picnic.

Fishing, paddle boarding and kayaking are regularly practised here, too, while kids love to look for crabs and other miniature sea creatures in the rock pools.

You will also find easy parking, holiday accommodation, and restaurants near the beach.

So as a family-friendly beach in Virginia, this destination ticks many boxes.

11- Yorktown Beach

best virginia beaches for families Yorktown Beach and Coleman bridge
One of the popular city beaches in Virginia is Yorktown Beach. Beachgoers can watch the boats cruise beneath the Coleman bridge on the York River.

Although it only has a relatively small shoreline, the two-acre (.8 ha) strip of Yorktown Beach in Yorktown is a lovely place to spend a few hours.

With amenities like toilets, shops, and restaurants, this is an accessible beach to visit because of the complimentary shuttle bus that runs to it from several public car parks in the centre of town.

Swimming is a popular activity at the beach, although plenty of people come here to kayak and paddleboard.

It is also well worth sailing along the York River to get a unique perspective around sunset.

12- Westmoreland State Park

Covering some 1,321 acres (534 ha) and extending for about one and a half miles (2.4 km) along the Potomac River, the Westmoreland State Park is lovely to chill out and relax.

Framed and highlighted by The Horsehead Cliffs, which provides fabulous panoramic views of the Potomac River and fossils at its lower levels, the park also gives you access to a wonderful beach.

The beach is generally on the quieter side, so it’s perfect for sunbathing and swimming.

If you want to explore more of it, there are also a variety of other activities you can do, including hiking, fishing, wildlife spotting and photography.

13- Assateague Island National Seashore

best virginia beaches a herd of ponies
Beautiful Chincoteague ponies in Assateague Island National Seashore.

Assateague Island National Seashore’s beach is famous for the wild Chincoteague Ponies that frequent its sands.

The pristine coastal landscape on Virginia’s Eastern Shore is a largely undeveloped region with a back-to-nature feel.

The magnificent ponies, made famous by the book ‘Misty of Chincoteague’, freely roam the gorgeous 23 miles (37 km) stretch of white sands here without causing any issues to visitors.

The beach is excellent for walking, beachcombing, and sunbathing.

There is also the historic 1867 Assateague Lighthouse which you can climb for sweeping views of the ocean and the surrounding terrain.

14- Croatan Beach

virginia beaches foamy waves lapping on the sand
Virginia beaches come in different forms, both ocean and lake.

At less than a mile (1.6 km) long Croatan beach is not the largest beach in Virginia but it is extremely popular with surfers.

Situated not far from Virginia Beach, it has two designated areas to ride the swell, which should keep you entertained for hours.

If you don’t know how to surf, you can take lessons here in the summer, while lifeguards are present.

There are showers and restrooms.

If Virginia Beach is too busy for you, this is a lovely alternative destination to spend the afternoon.

15- Kerr Lake Beach

While Virginia has several impressive ocean beaches, they have some lovely lakeside beaches, and one of the best is Kerr Lake.

Situated on Buggs Island in Clarksville, the lake has over 800 miles (1287 km) of shoreline and has lots of little coves and stretches of sand perfect for sunbathing and picnicking.

The water is also great for swimming, water skiing, sailing, boating and kayaking, while there are several camping sites around the area, should you want to stay a little longer.

16- Chincoteague Beach

virginia beach beaches a sanderling picking on a shell on the sand
A sanderling (Calidris alba) picking on a shell on Chincoteague Beach in Virginia.

Nestled within the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the Chincoteague Beach is widely considered one of the best beaches on Virginia’s Atlantic coast.

Close to Assateague Island, Chincoteague is a barrier island.

This means its landscape is defined by naturally placed grasses and dunes, making it incredibly picturesque.

Managed by the National Park Service, the beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, beachcombing and beach walking, with lifeguards being on duty here for much of the year.

Kayakers and surfers enjoy the waters, while the beach is notable for its bird watching and opportunities to find crabs in the rock pools.

17- First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park sandy beach backed by grasses and trees
First Landing State Park has a pristine beach to explore when you’re visiting Virginia.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Seashore State Park Historic District, First Landing State Park has a lovely beach.

Stretching for one and a quarter miles (2 km), the breathtaking landscape is a photographer’s dream, featuring gorgeous dunes, dense maritime forest, and verdant natural vegetation.

It’s not so much of a surfing beach, but if you want to relax, sunbathe and take a gentle stroll along its four boardwalks, it makes a lovely destination for an afternoon out.

The park covers about 3,000 acres and offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and cycling.

It’s also popular for fishing, swimming and boating.

18- Buckroe Beach

Virginia beaches (Buckroe Beach) timber lifesaver's chair on a flat groomed beach
Buckroe Beach is one of the beaches in Virginia you will enjoy.

Another quieter alternative to Virginia Beach is Buckroe Beach.

Situated in the town of Hampton, it boasts a coastline of almost a mile and showcases sensational views of the Chesapeake Bay.

One of the best beaches in Virginia to catch the sunset, Buckroe Beach also provides lots of opportunities for swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding.

It is also an excellent beach for people watching and observing ocean wildlife and the ships preparing to arrive in port.

There are also plenty of trails for cyclists and walkers to check out and several lovely scenic picnic spots.

In the summer, if you are here, keep an eye out for family-orientated outdoor movies on Tuesdays and concerts on Sundays.

19- North End Beach

If you seek a beach that you and your dog can enjoy, look no further than North End Beach.

Very much a ‘locals’ beach, there is little in the way of facilities here, but there is ample room for you and your pooch to roam around freely.

The family-friendly beach also possesses two historic lighthouses to explore.

The oldest of them, the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, was first commissioned in 1792, while the other dates back to 1881 and is still in use today.

20- Belle Isle Beach

One of Virginia’s most unique beach experiences can be found at Belle Isle Beach.

It is an urban beach with no sand or ocean waves but natural flat rocks that locals sunbathe on.

There is water here, though swimming is not advised due to very swift rapids but if you just want to place your feet in the water and have a quick dip, you should be fine.

Nestled within the middle of Belle Isle Historic Park, a stunning 54-acre (21 ha) island formerly a fishing village for Native Americans, this beach is located in downtown Richmond.

It also features a stunning landscape of rugged cliffs that can be seen through various hiking trails.

For more beaches around the world read:

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Spencer is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years experience producing written content for tourism-related businesses. A thalassophile who was afflicted with wanderlust from a young age, he has visited over 40 countries in the world. An ex-pat Brit who now lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, he cites Miami Beach in the USA and Palm Cove in Australia as his favourite travel destinations. Specialising in writing about beach destinations around the world, he would probably bleed sand if you cut his arm open