10 Best Beaches In Virginia

Updated On October 4, 2023

Named by Sir Walter Raleigh for his queen, Elizabeth the Virgin, Virginia is steeped in history.

From the indigenous people that lived off its land to the first English settlement in Jamestown, the Old Dominion state is fascinating, to say the least.

With a population of 8.6 million, this small east coast state lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay.

Though famous for its coastlines, Virginia also has lush forests, marshlands, and mountains (including the Appalachians).

It was in those mountains that one of the most popular American soft drinks Mountain Dew, was invented.

The largest U.S. naval base is in the port city of Norfolk.

Even though Kentucky gets credit for being the originator of American whisky (bourbon), the first batch was made in Fayette County, which was part of Virginia at the time.

The coastal state is also home to 5 historically black colleges, including the Ivy League, and Hampton University.

The region is also no slouch at turning out talent. Arthur Ashe, Sandra Bullock, Ella Fitzgerald, Katy Couric, and Kristen Bell all hail from Virginia.

The state is also a popular tourist destination for history buffs, couples seeking solitude, and families looking for fun.

Virginia only has 112 miles of coastline, but it’s jam-packed with beauty, fun, and excitement.

The beaches of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic coast offer something for everyone, from boating and fishing to boardwalk amusements and surfing.

Read on for the best beaches in Virginia.

The 10 Best Beaches In Virginia

Colonial Beach
Colonial Beach

10. Colonial Beach – Colonial Beach, Virginia

This unique beach on the Chesapeake Bay is split into different sections to cater to the needs of all its visitors.

There’s the quiet north section for those seeking a peaceful retreat.

Then there’s the Boardwalk section that’s ripe with activity and great for kids.

The Point area is more adult-oriented with bars and a yacht club.

Castle wood has an area for water sports, a pier for fishing, and food trucks.

Whatever you are looking for on a day at the beach can be found at Colonial Beach.

Cape Charles Beach
Cape Charles Beach

9. Cape Charles Beach – Cape Charles, Virginia

On the banks of the Chesapeake, about 10 miles north of the Bay Bridge, sits the charming town of Cape Charles, and its equally quaint beach.

There are no waves and the water is shallow and warm.

This makes it a perfect beach for families with young children.

The tidal pools are fun for everyone as you can cool off and visit the many hermit crabs, shrimp, and small fish that live in them.

There are beautiful dunes, a fishing pier, concessions, restrooms, and hiking trails.

Everything you need for a great day in the sand.

First Landing Beach
First Landing Beach

8. First Landing Beach – Virginia Beach, Virginia

First Landing gets its name from being the spot where the colonists first landed on the Chesapeake side of Virginia Beach.

It’s one of the most visited beaches in the state.

It’s 1.5 miles of shoreline and offers tons of fun and sun for visitors.

The waves are small, the water is clear, and you have a clear view of the Chesapeake Bridge in the distance.

Restrooms and outdoor showers are available.

Fill up your cooler, as there are plenty of grills and picnic spaces for everyone.

First Landing Beach is inside the state park of the same name, so there are campsites and cabins available to rent.

Historical exhibits and an amphitheater are also located inside the park.

So pack the sunscreen and make a day of it at this lovely beach.

Belle Isle Beach
Belle Isle Beach

7. Belle Isle Beach – Richmond, Virginia

Belle Isle Beach is truly unique because the beach is made completely of flat rock, instead of sand.

It’s inside of an urban park that’s actually a 54-acre island that was once a Native American fishing village.

It’s popular with the local folks that like to lay out on a rock and soak up the sun while the cool water splashes around them.

While it’s not ideal for swimming due to the strong rapids, it’s a great place to stop and relax, get your feet wet, and watch some wildlife if you’re visiting Richmond.

Willoboughy Beach
Willoboughy Beach

6. Willoboughy Beach – Norfolk, Virginia

This 7-mile-long stretch of beach along the Chesapeake Bay (also known as Ocean View), offers plenty of room for everyone.

The water is warm and great for swimming.

You can search for the many hermit crabs or snails that live in the sand, build a sandcastle, or just relax.

There are plenty of shells for beachcombers to scoop up, and plenty of wildlife to observe.

The beach is handicapped accessible and has a boardwalk for those who may not appreciate the sand.

During the summer, the beach hosts free concerts and movie nights.

The boardwalk has over 100 festivals during the summer, with food, entertainment, and vendors of all types.

It’s a great place for all ages. 

Lake Anna Beach
Lake Anna Beach

5. Lake Anna Beach – Spotsylvania County, Virginia 

Once known as Gold Hill because of its proximity to a former gold mine, Lake Anna is Virginia’s most popular lake (and second largest).

The sand is gorgeous, the water is clear, and the entire area is surrounded by a forested area rich with wildlife.

There’s a boat launch and an area for fishing.

The beach is located inside a state park, so there are plenty of activities like horseback riding, hiking trails, panning activities for kids, and fishing ponds for children and people with disabilities.

Restrooms and concession stands are also available if you don’t want to avail yourself of the grills and picnic areas.

Campsites are available if you want to stay overnight.

Buckroe Beach
Buckroe Beach

4. Buckroe Beach – Hampton, Virginia

Buckroe is a stunning 3/4 mile Long Beach that’s free and open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The sand is soft and the water is sparkling clean with gentle waves.

There’s a picnic area with grills, a pavilion for concerts, and a boardwalk to watch sunsets or ride bikes.

A long observation pier also allows fishing.

During the summer there are a lot of food trucks and carts milling around, so you’ll never go hungry.

The restrooms are clean and the shuttle service from town is complimentary.

It’s a great break for locals and a nice stop for visitors.

Assateague Beach
Assateague Beach

3. Assateague Beach – Assateague Island, Virginia

This majestic beach is located on a 37-mile-long Assateague Island that belongs to both Virginia and Maryland.

It’s always on the best beach lists for both states.

If you’re looking for an unspoiled, organic beach, where it’s just sand, water, and wildlife, Assateague is the place.

The waves are some of the best in the state for surfing and boogie boarding.

The area is also home to extensive wildlife, like Bald Eagles and seabirds.

Lifeguards are on duty during the summer and restrooms are available.

Lastly, one of the main reasons for visiting Assateague, are the wild horses that roam the beaches.

These feral ponies have made the island their home for hundreds of years, and are a wonder to behold.

Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach

2. Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach, Virginia

If it’s fun and excitement you’re looking for, Virginia Beach has got it all.

This area of the beach is paralleled by the 3-mile stretch of boardwalk that ties everything together.

You get a beautiful beach that’s great for surfing, swimming, and water sports like parasailing.

Then take a break from the sand and walk the boardwalk to grab a bite, play some games, shop, or get on a ride.

There are plenty of places along the way for adults to grab a frosty beverage too.

Let’s not forget the local aquarium, music concerts on the beach, fireworks, and festivals throughout the summer.

Visitors have their choice of oceanfront hotels, condos, bed and breakfasts, and cottages.

Sandbridge Beach
Sandbridge Beach

1. Sandbridge Beach – Virginia Beach, Virginia

Up the road from the hustle and bustle of Virginia Beach and the boardwalk, lies a quieter, calmer version, called Sandbridge.

Still part of the town, it’s removed from the resort area and is much more private, while retaining the pristine sand, dunes, and fun waves.

There is a small boardwalk for cycling or strolling, and you can easily make your way up to the main path if you need some more activity. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Chesapeake Bay have waves?

Though there are rare occasions where there are large swells in the Chesapeake Bay (hurricanes, for example), a normal day in the bay brings small, gentle waves of 1-2 feet at most.

There are many areas of the bay that have no waves at all.

What beaches have boardwalks in Virginia?

Virginia Beach, Colonial Beach, Croaker Landing, and Old Town all have boardwalks as well as fishing piers.

Are the beaches in Virginia clean?


In fact, many of the beaches are known for being among the cleanest in the country.

The Virginia Division of tourism takes great pride in maintaining its beaches.

 What are the best beaches to surf at in Virginia?

If you’re looking to ride some waves, we suggest going to Assateague, Sandbridge, Virginia Beach, or Croatan.

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