Let’s be honest: Virginia’s beaches are weird. Yes, we’re right on the ocean, but a giant peninsula blocks us from the Atlantic and most of our coastline faces a bay. That’s okay. There’s plenty of sand and sun to be found in this lovely Commonwealth.
You just have to know where to look.
The best beaches in Virginia (in order!)
1. Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach is a popular tourist destination because of its access to the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding areas. It’s Virginia’s one “real” beach. A boardwalk, surfing, the works.
It’s far and away Virginia’s most famous and popular beach. This means it’s crowded in summer and there will be traffic.
Virginia Beach has lots of great restaurants, a lively bar scene, and lots of public access. There are tons of places to stay, from expensive waterfront resorts to cheap motels.
If you’re looking for a true beach experience, Virginia Beach is where it’s at.
Best for: Anyone looking for nightlife, people watching, and excitement.
2. Sandbridge Beach
Sandbridge Beach is a beautiful, less crowded beach located within Virginia Beach. It offers sunsets and waves similar to those found at Virginia Beach’s larger attractions. If you’re looking for a quieter beach to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family, Sandbridge Beach is a great option. (If you’re going to Virginia beach with kids, we recommend staying here!)
If you are looking for a beautiful beach to relax on and enjoy some activities, Sandbridge Beach is the perfect spot. It’s located near False Cape State Park, which offers kayaking, fishing, and hiking opportunities.
(If you like the Outer Banks, you’ll like Sandbridge much more than the “main” area of Virginia Beach.)
Best for: families with young kids or anyone who prefers to stay in a beach house vs a hotel.
3. Cape Charles Beach
Cape Charles Beach is located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and is part of Chesapeake Bay. The beach has a wide variety of activities, including swimming, fishing, kayaking, and sunbathing. It also has a playground and picnic areas. The calm and shallow waters make it ideal for families with small children or visitors who do not want to swim in ocean waves
Cape Charles Beach is a great spot for fishing, swimming, and sunbathing. If you’re looking for a fun day out with the family, this beach has something for everyone. There are several local outfitters that can book excursions for you, like kayaking or bird watching. And if you’re traveling with your furry friend, don’t worry – the beach is pet-friendly.
Cape Charles is one of the most charming towns in all of Virginia and a gorgeous place to stay on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. There’s a reason it’s our top pick for a Virginia weekend getaway.
Best for: couples looking for a quiet, romantic getaway.
4. Smith Mountain Lake Beach
Yes, a beach on the lake. And it’s a small beach but it’s pretty, sandy, and perfect for kids. We love it here. As a bonus, you can rent a house within walking distance of the beach, which would be impossible at some of the bigger and more popular destinations.
Smith Mountain Lake Beach is a great place to visit if you are looking for a beautiful beach that offers plenty of activities for the whole family. This hidden gem is located inside Virginia’s largest state park, making it the perfect place to spend a day outdoors. You can enjoy swimming, fishing, sunbathing, and more at this beach.
Best for: Anyone with a boat who wants a relaxing vacation or loves jet skiing.
5. Ocean View Beach
Ocean View Beach is a 5-mile stretch of public beach in Norfolk, Virginia that offers scenic ocean views and plenty to do. There are several pavilions along the beach that host summer concerts and events, as well as a bathhouse and picnic tables for visitors if you want to make the full day at the beach.
There’s a fishing pier and tackle rentals should you want to try your luck at catching dinner, but if not, the view from the pier is excellent and definitely worth a stop. Parking is easy to find, as well as restaurants and lodging should you need them.
There are oceanfront hotels and homes available for rent.
Best for: anglers or anyone on a tight budget.
Chincoteague Island is a small island off the coast of Virginia that is home to a beautiful beach. The island is accessible by car via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel and it can be a bear to get there, especially in summer. But it’s worth the effort to visit this beautiful place.
Chincoteague Island is a great place to visit if you are looking for a beach that is less crowded than some of the other popular beaches in Virginia. The island offers plenty of activities for the whole family, including swimming, fishing, kayaking, and more.
Of course, the wild ponies are a huge draw to this location. The whole island feels beautiful and remote. The beaches are beautiful and uncrowded.
Best for: Families that don’t mind a drive and have horse lovers in their crew.
6. Colonial Beach
Colonial Beach is a small town located on the Potomac River in Virginia. The town is home to a public beach that offers stunning river views and plenty of things to do. There are several restaurants and bars located along the beach, as well as a playground.
Colonial Beach is the perfect place to visit if you live in Northern Virginia or DC and don’t want to drive far. (It’s only 2 hours from DC.). Even though it’s close, Colonial Beach has palm trees, beachy waterfront bars and restaurants, and just feels like a beach town. And if you think that’s not a big deal, you’re wrong.
Best for: Anyone local looking for something close by with a vacation feel.
7. Buckroe Beach
Buckroe Beach is located in Hampton, Coastal Virginia. It is a public beach that offers visitors a more relaxed and less crowded experience than Virginia Beach. The surf can be a bit rougher at Buckroe, but it is perfect for watching sunsets and ocean wildlife, In addition, Buckroe Beach has a convenient beach with easy parking and a retail shop on-site to pick up sunscreen, water, and snacks before hitting the waves.
Best for: People who want a more low-key beach experience.
8. First Landing State Park Beach
First Landing State Park is located in coastal Virginia and is the most popular state park in the United States. The park offers visitors a variety of activities, including swimming, fishing, kayaking, biking, and hiking.
The park also offers a beach with easy access and plenty of parking. The beach is situated on Chesapeake Bay and offers stunning views of the water and the surrounding area. There are several pavilions located on the beach that offer picnic tables, grills, and restrooms, making it the perfect spot to spend a day with friends or family.
You wouldn’t really want to go on vacation here exactly, but it’s a fun day trip.
Best for: beach lovers who know how to camp! This one of the best campgrounds in Virginia.
9. Lake Anna
Lake Anna is a large man-made lake in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. It was created in the 1970s by damming the North Anna River. The lake is a popular destination for swimming, fishing, and boating. There are many public beaches around the lake, including a white sand beach with waves that resembles the ocean.
Best for: swimming, fishing, and boating. Also good for anyone who wants to experience a man-made lake.
10. False Cape State Park
False Cape State Park is located at the southern tip of Virginia Beach. The park is only accessible by foot, bike, or boat, making it a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The park offers miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as a beach that stretches for miles. False Cape is also a great place to see wildlife, including dolphins, raccoons, and more.
Best for: people who want to get away from it all and nature lovers.
Enjoy your day in the sun!
Virginia beaches offer something for everyone, from the active and adventurous to those looking for a more relaxed experience. No matter what you’re looking for in your beach day, we hope this list of the best Virginia beaches has provided some inspiration.