Ready to pack away your winter gear and head off for a warm-weather getaway that offers balmy breezes and bright sunshine instead of snowbanks and gray skies?
Spring is the perfect time to visit Sandbridge Beach. Seasonal local businesses are getting ready for their out-of-town guests, restaurants are prepping to serve amazing dishes, flowers are blossoming, and - most importantly - the temperatures are on the rise. Because vacation season isn't fully in play, you can relish in uncrowded beaches, and feel as if you have Sandbridge all to yourself.
What can you expect during a Sandbridge Beach getaway in March, April, or May? Here's a brief guide to weather, fauna, fishing, safety, and more.
What Are Spring Weather Trends in the Sandbridge Beach Area?
In March, average daily high temperatures hover around 59º F, with lows around 42º. Rainfall averages 3.3 inches for the month which leaves room for lots of sunshine and clear skies. Winter's brisk winds are beginning to die down, but there's more than enough fresh breeze for awesome kite flying and hang gliding. Humidity is relatively low compared with summer's muggy conditions.
By April, the average daily high rises to 67º F, with lows around 50º. Many days warm up into the 70s. Skies are more often clear or partly clear, and fine weather makes a comeback with gentle breezes, fewer raindrops, and increased daylight hours.
In May, average daily high temps jump to 75º F, with lows around 59º. There are fewer completely clear days with cloudless blue skies, dawn to dusk. But, by early May, average rainfall dips to only 3 inches, so you can still expect plenty of sunshine. Winds are dropping off dramatically - in fact, May is Sandbridge's calmest month. Meanwhile, humidity is still very low at around 21% by May's end.
What Trees and Shrubs Are Flowering?
- Sweetbay Magnolia is a gorgeous tree with dark green leaves and brilliant white flowers.
- Marsh Marigolds blossom with bright yellow buds.
- Trumpet Honeysuckle abounds with its distinctive aroma so you know it's there even if you can spot it hidden among other trees and bushes.
- Azalea shrubs shout that spring is here with an amazing array of glorious colors.
- Peonies - which many people pay a premium price for at flower shops - grow abundantly with their ruffled peddles in a rainbow of colors.
Which Birds and Animals Can You Expect to See?
In March, there is still a lingering presence of a handful of Snow Geese, Canada Geese, Coots, Grebes, Tundra Swans, and multiple varieties of ducks. April gives the signal for these seasonal visitors to make their way north. At the same time, though, shorebirds and wading birds are ready to take their place.
Scope out the sands and shallows of Sandbridge Beach, the banks and inlets of Back Bay, and the five miles of scenic trails at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge to catch glimpses of beloved birds including:
- Great Blue Herons
- Great Egrets
- Familiar native songbirds - such as robins, sparrows, and cardinals - making their spring re-appearance
- Neotropical birds - warblers, thrushes, tanagers - from Central and South America
Be on the lookout for others, too, including foxes, rabbits, deer, bobcats, and even the occasional black bear. Don't forget giant loggerhead turtles. These elusive creatures are most visible during nesting season, which doesn't start until June, but you may spot a few before then if you keep your eyes peeled.
What Fish Are Biting at Sandbridge from March through May?
Sandbridge Beach is an angler's paradise all year-'round - and that includes spring, of course. As the balmy Gulf waters warm-up, you can expect to reel in some choice gamefish. For example:
- Cast your line for inshore and estuarine fish like Spotted (Speckled) Seatrout, Gray Trout (also called Weakfish), Puppy Drum, Black Drum, and Red Drum (a/k/a Channel Bass).
- Land a citation Channel Catfish from Back Bay's brackish waters.
- Fish from Little Island City Pier for saltwater species like Bluefish and Flounder.
- Book a deep-sea charter expedition to pursue popular offshore sportfish such as Atlantic Mackerel.
- Catch year-round favorites like Sea Bass, Striped Bass, Tautog, and Blueline Tilefish.
You'll need a Virginia fishing license, of course, unless you're fishing from Little Island Pier, which has its own blanket license but charges modest daily fees. But, not to worry - both freshwater and saltwater licenses are easily obtainable at reasonable rates online and at most bait-and-tackle shops.
What About Crabbing and Shrimping?
One of the tastiest treats the ocean delivers is crab. You can capture your own seafood meal starting in early March when the blue crab season starts at Sandbridge Beach. With no license requirement, it's an easy and fun pastime, but there are a few restrictions.
You'll usually fair better at night. Follow these tips:
- Bring a flashlight, twine, bucket, and bait. (Meaty bait works best.)
- Use the twine as your line and tie the bait to it. Toss it into shallow water, and quickly give it some sharp tugs from time to time.
- When you see the crab clamp down on the bait, pull in your catch!
- There's an official limit of one bushel a day. That will give you plenty to eat.
For recreational shrimping, there's no official season; you can do it whenever you like. But you'll need a Cast Net License, which you can obtain for a modest fee online, by phone or mail, or from any license agent. Then just:
- Use a cast net (available online and at tackle shops)
- Add a little shrimp meal as bait
- Cast your net into deeper waters
- Jig the line a few times
- Draw up the net and deposit your catch in a bucket