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.
For more ideas in Virginia and West Virginia:
- Beaches In Virginia
- 20 Virginia Beaches
- 1- Virginia Beach
- 2- Bethel Beach
- 3- Cape Charles Beach
- 4- Jamestown Beach
- 5- Sandbridge Beach
- 6- Smith Mountain Lake Beach
- 7- Chesapeake Beach
- 8- Kiptopeke State Park Beach
- 9- Colonial Beach
- 10- Ocean View Beach
- 11- Yorktown Beach
- 12- Westmoreland State Park
- 13- Assateague Island National Seashore
- 14- Croatan Beach
- 15- Kerr Lake Beach
- 16- Chincoteague Beach
- 17- First Landing State Park
- 18- Buckroe Beach
- 19- North End Beach
- 20- Belle Isle Beach
- 20 Virginia Beaches
Beaches In Virginia
20 Virginia Beaches
1- 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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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