The Barrier Islands
Much like North Carolina’s barrier islands, Virginia’s barrier islands outline the eastern seaboard of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. However, these islands are completely undeveloped, instead serving as refuges to maintain their unique ecosystems. All 14 of these barrier islands make up the longest stretch of coastal wilderness on the United States’ east coast.
These islands vary in accessibility, but for the most part, they are open to the public. Check out what’s open here. A quick trip out by boat and you’ve got a quiet island all to yourself, or you and a few others. Perfect for relaxing in the sun, exploring untouched beauty, or an afternoon swim, these islands are truly fit for anyone. Take your own boat out or hop on a boat taxi. Either way you will be amazed by these beautiful islands.
Learn more about Virginia’s Barrier Islands here.
See the islands on a map.
Cape Charles Beach
Conveniently located, Cape Charles beach is right at the edge of town, just a hop, skip, and a jump from bustling Mason Ave. Many enjoy driving golf carts to the beach for an easy minute drive for ice cream midday or walking a few minutes to the beach with a packed cooler.
As a bayside beach, the waters are calm and great for families with young children. It’s common to walk down the beach and come up on a game of beach volleyball or can jam. You can stay at the beach all day and paddle around on a floatie in the water or head down to the fishing pier for some afternoon fishing. The Cape Charles LOVEworks sign is at the end of the beach, a perfect photo op to remember your time in this charming town.
Learn more about Cape Charles here.
Assateague Island is unique because it is the only barrier island you can drive to. When you drive to the end of Maddox Blvd, you’ll come to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge where you can access the beach for a afternoon of sun and sand.
This beach is on the Atlantic Ocean side of the shore, making it an ideal destination for coastal surfing, skimboarding, boogied boarding, you name it. The beach extends from the Virginia side to the Maryland side, meaning it’s easy to space out and have your own little piece of beach during the day. It’s common to see porpoises swim by the beach in the summer, and it’s also common to see all kinds of birding and wildlife. If you want a break from beach time, take a walk through one of the many trails at the refuge, explore the Assateague Lighthouse, or stop by the Herbert H. Bateman Center to learn a little more about the area.
Learn more about the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
Tangier is the only inhabited island in Virginia’s waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The island is known for its watermen and way of life, however they do have a beautiful beach perfect for an afternoon on the bay. Enjoy island time as you relax on the beach, just don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray.
Enjoy a ferry ride to the island to or bring your own boat. Take a golf cart into town for lunch at Fishermen’s Corner, Lorraine’s Snack Bar, Waterfront Restaurant, or Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House for a break from the sun or a bathroom break. You can even make a stop at the town’s history museum. This beach rarely has a crowd so social distancing will be a breeze.
Learn more about Tangier Island here.
See the island on a map.
Drive off of Route 13 into Kiptopeke State Park to reach the beach. You’ll know you’re there when you see the iconic ghost ships that line the shore. This Chesapeake Bay beach has quiet shores with no waves, perfect for families. The park is also home to a playground, nature trails, camping sites, yurt, fishing pier, boat launch, and plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife.
If you have dinner plans after the beach, no worries. There are several showers at the entrance to the beach for a quick rinse. This park is a safe place for biking and outdoor birthday parties. Do keep in mind Kiptopeke State Park does have a fee for entry.
Learn more about Kiptopeke State Park here.
Check out the park’s trail guide here.
Savage Neck Dunes
Lastly, down the backroads of Eastville, Virginia, Savage Neck Dunes is off the beaten path. This beach is located at the end of three various trails that lead through the preserve. Once you have explored the maritime forests, you’ll come to the quiet and secluded beach that is home to various wildlife, including many birds.
While the preserve has a parking lot, there is only space for eight vehicles. If the parking lot is full when you arrive, please come again later as the surrounding property is private. Additionally, this property does not have trash receptacles nor restrooms. Please be respectful of the preserve.
Learn more about Savage Neck Dunes here.