The Outer Banks are stretches of peninsulas and barrier islands that run 200 miles along the coast of North Carolina and Virginia. The Outer Banks strand actually begins in Virginia with the 4.5-mile long Sandbridge Beach. Because Sandbridge Beach is backed by Currituck Sound to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, its geography is similar to that of the North Carolina Outer Banks. That similarity (and also cultural similarities) have earned Sandbridge Beach the nickname “The Outer Banks of Virginia.” Sandbridge Beach is a must-see for those who love the remote, untamed, and relaxed atmosphere of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
There’s a lot more to Sandbridge Beach than sun, sand, and serenity. This magical coastal retreat offers countless cool things to do including hiking and biking, birding and boating, fishing and kayaking, oceanfront dining and more.
How do you make education fun? Take it to the beach! At Sandbridge Beach, VA, kids can expand their knowledge and boost their skills while having the time of their lives. Here are just a few possibilities.
Catch the Sunrise
Sunrises on Sandbridge Beach are spectacular. The sun comes up early in the summer — just after 6 a.m., but this sunrise is worth getting up for. If you don’t want to set the alarm on vacation, sleep with your blinds open and get up as the sky begins to lighten. Grab your coffee and walk to the beach to watch the show.
Breakfast at Baja Coffee
Reward yourself for rising at the crack of dawn with a hearty (or light) breakfast from Baja Coffee. The shop is open from 6:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and is located just a short drive from the fishing pier.
Treat yourself to a freshly baked cinnamon roll or muffin, a breakfast wrap, yogurt and homemade granola, a fresh-fruit smoothie, or even a gluten-free quiche.
Baja’s coffee comes from Kill Devil Coffee Roasters in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The beans come from small independent farmers who are focused on sustainability and organic growing methods. This is the most delicious small-batch coffee you’ll find, so you may want to linger for a second cup.
False Cape Bike Tour
After breakfast, it’s time to get moving with a False Cape bike tour. The bike tour is a new activity for Surf & Adventure Co., and it’s sure to become one of the most popular.
Meet at Little Island Pier for a 10 a.m. start on one of two tours. You can either bike the semi-paved roads in False Cape State Park or rent a fat-tire sand bike and cruise the beach. Tour the interior roads, and you’ll pedal through high dunes and diverse ecosystems. Of the two tours, this is the least strenuous. Keep an eye out for critters such as deer, foxes, birds, and wild pigs.
The beach tour will take you east of the dunes across pristine, undeveloped beaches. You may see dolphin and seabirds starting their day too.
Lunch at Simply Steamed
If you’re ready for a break and a big glass of tea, head to Simply Steamed. Start with a jumbo shrimp cocktail, crab cake, She Crab soup, gazpacho, or a salad before diving into one of their famous sandwiches. Choose from local favorites such as the seafood wrap, shrimp taco, lobster salad, or crab-cake sandwich, or go for traditional entrees such as a BLT, Club, or fish sandwich. Take your lunch to the deck outside the seafood market and relax.
Before you leave, notice their one-pot take-out meals. Pots are custom made to order and can include corn on the cob, onions, red potatoes, and any combination of shrimp, clams, mussels, crabs, lobster, and crawfish. A small pot feeds two or three people, and the large pots can feed a large group or family. All you have to do is steam the contents of the pot in water, beer, or wine, and serve.
Shopping at Sandpiper Beach Shop
After lunch, it’s time for a little shopping at Sandpiper Beach Shop. This cute store is the best place to find the ultimate Sandbridge Beach souvenir. You’ll also find beach clothing for the whole family, sun hats, beach toys, sunblock, games, beach-themed home décor, and more.
Fishing and Swimming at Little Island Park
Vacation Budget Tips
- Check For Specials and Discounts
One of the best money saving tips we can give any vacationer is to check for specials. The best benefit to staying in Sandbridge as opposed to Virginia Beach is the seclusion. We all know the old saying “you get what you pay for” but in this case you can get the seclusion of Sandbridge for close to the same price as busy Virginia Beach. Our Specials page is constantly updated to reflect the most current discounts and specials.
- Make The Most of Your Rental
Your vacation rental should have everything you need to enjoy a budget-friendly vacation. All our properties include a full-sized kitchen and a grill. Since you will have a kitchen and grill you can save money by cooking rather than going out to eat. Most of our properties are equipped with some form of entertainment: pool table, foosball table, volleyball court, private pool, etc. Having this kind of entertainment is a fun, cheap way to enjoy your vacation while you’re not on the beach.
- Rent Beach Equipment
I know what you’re thinking, “why rent beach equipment when I’m trying to have a budget-friendly vacation?” Well the fact of the matter is you can rent kayaks, surfboards, boogie boards, and bicycles fairly cheap for the entire week.
Far From the Noise, Close to the Action
Sandbridge Beach is a sandy peninsula with 4.5 miles of pristine beach, nearly 10,000 acres of national wildlife refuge, no hotels, quaint rental cottages, and a laid-back atmosphere. There’s only one road to the small community, so days and nights are quiet and crowds are small.
The remote feeling of Sandbridge Beach is why natives and visitors love it here. You can read for hours on end with no interruption and walk on the beach for miles without dodging people every few steps. At night, sleep with the windows open and you’ll only hear the sounds of the surf.
Solitude and serenity are not the only hallmarks of Sandbridge. Its prime location means you’re only 15 miles from the bustling Virginia Beach resort area. This is world famous for its family-friendly attractions, including the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Water Country USA and Ocean Breeze waterparks, the Military Aviation Museum, and more restaurants and shopping than you can cover in a month.
Loaded With Local Charm and Flavor
There are no hotels on Sandbridge Beach, so when you stay here you’ll feel like you belong. Rental homes and cottages are cozy, relaxed, and full of charm. To live like a local while you’re here, do what natives do: Play bingo at the Sandbridge Fire & Rescue Station on Wednesday nights, take in an outdoor concert on the pier at Little Island Park, or listen to live music on the patio at Baja Restaurant.
You also won’t find any chain restaurants in Sandbridge Beach. Get your morning cup of Joe at the Simply Steamed coffee shop, grab an afternoon cone at the Sandbridge Sugar Shack, and pick up a lunch picnic at the Sandbridge Seaside Market. At dinnertime, tuck into regional specialties including seafood, hushpuppies, and more at favorites like Blue Pete’s, Rudee’s, or Lucky Oyster. Here, our version of going out to “see and be seen” means making new friends and catching up with neighbors over oysters or pizza.
Kid-friendly and Uncrowded
Even at the height of summer you won’t find the mass of people on Sandbridge Beach that you’d find on Virginia Beach. Kids have more room to run and play, waves are usually small and gentle, and the ocean floor is sandy and soft — a great place to learn to surf, skimboard, body surf, or just wade in the water. As an extra safety measure, lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day at Little Island Park and other Sandbridge beaches. There are also restrooms in Little Island Park, which is convenient for families with little ones.
At Sandbridge, kids can have fun in a more relaxed environment. Young ones and teenagers can have a good time flying kites on windy days, catching ghost crabs (and having races to see whose is fastest before letting them go), watching for dolphins, and hunting for shells at the tide line. If you need a day with a little more action, or need to pass a rainy day, a quick drive to Virginia Beach offers laser tag, a children’s museum, rock-climbing gyms, and movie theaters.
Love nature? Have a budding naturalist in the family? Spend the day exploring Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. With plenty of kid-friendly programs and activities, even the most dedicated computer and TV addicts may discover their inner scientist.
If you dream of limiting screen time for your family, Sandbridge Beach has enough outdoor activities to keep everyone busy for days. Whether you fish from the pier or in the wildlife refuge, take a family-friendly kayak tour, or hop on the Blue Goose trolley and see who can spot the most birds, Sandbridge Beach has infinite ways to entertain you.
Award-Winning But Undiscovered
Huffington Post named Sandbridge Beach “One of the Top 10 Beaches in America,” and the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association recently named Sandbridge Beach “One of America’s Best Restored Beaches.” This beautiful place also routinely lands among the top contenders for Best Beach on Yelp and TripAdvisor.
For all the accolades, Sandbridge Beach remains relatively undiscovered. You won’t find crowded beaches, traffic jams, loud parties, or long lines at markets and restaurants.
With the best location for peace and quiet, an atmosphere reminiscent of the days when life was much simpler, and the best location for attractions, Sandbridge Beach just may be one of America’s best-kept secrets.
Visitors to Sandbridge Beach come for seclusion, pristine beaches, and the rare opportunity to be immersed in an unspoiled natural environment. Sandbridge Beach may be compact, but what it lacks in square mileage it more than makes up for in breathtaking wildlife refuges and family-friendly state parks.
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 9,000 acres on the Currituck Banks Peninsula. The refuge borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Back Bay of Currituck Sound to the west. This salt- and freshwater refuge was established in 1938 to preserve a critical feeding and resting habitat for migrating waterfowl. As part of the Atlantic Flyway, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a temporary and permanent home to hundreds of species of birds.
Back Bay Refuge is also an important habitat for loggerhead sea turtles and other animals. During fall and winter, thousands of ducks, tundra swans, and snow geese stop at the refuge for rest and recreation. Visitors may also spot great blue heron, the elusive American bittern, American black ducks, osprey, deer, muskrats, river otters, bobcats, and raccoons.
Visitors can enjoy a diverse geography that includes sand dunes, marshes, ponds, beaches, and forests by hiking or biking the marsh trails, strolling the boardwalk, or walking the beach. A good first stop is the Visitor Contact Station, which is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. For a broad overview of the refuge before you dive in on your own, take a ride on the Blue Goose Tram, which offers an excellent guided tour through Back Bay and False Cape State Park.
Want to learn more about this special place? The refuge offers educational and public service programs, including Clean the Bay Day, fishing clinics, turtle conservation programs, the Pond Explorers program, and marsh nature hikes. Canoes and kayaks can be launched at Horn Point, and fishing is available off the dock and the beach.
False Cape State Park
False Cape State Park lies between Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This is a primitive, undeveloped park that was once home to Native Americans and the historic Wash Woods community. The park is accessible only on foot, by bicycle, tram tour, boat, or beach transport. If you are looking for quiet and seclusion, this is a wonderful park for kayaking, camping, hiking, beachcombing, and trail biking.
False Cape State Park is on the two-hour tram tour that begins in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Overnight campers are welcome in the park, but be sure to bring plenty of water, insect repellent, and sunscreen and be prepared for pop-up storms.
Little Island Park
Little Island Park is a small but mighty park north of Back Bay Refuge. This beachfront park has a 400-foot fishing and crabbing pier, and an ideal surfing and swimming beach. Little Island has all the amenities families need for a fun day at the beach including picnic shelters, charcoal grills, a playground, canoe and kayak rental, restrooms, fishing pole rentals, concessions, and vending machines. Visitors can also check out sport and beach gear such as basketballs, baseball bats, corn hole boards and bags, Frisbees, soccer balls, volleyballs, and beach wheelchairs from the park office.
Little Island Park welcomes dogs anytime after Labor Day weekend and before Memorial Day weekend. Otherwise, dogs are allowed in the park and on the beach before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. the rest of the year.
Red Wing Park
Just a short drive from Sandbridge Beach you’ll find Red Wing Park, a 97-acre park that is home to some of the most beautiful gardens in Virginia. If you’re visiting in warm months, you’ll likely see outdoor weddings and formal wedding photography taking place. This park not only boasts a picturesque Japanese garden, but also plenty of picnic shelters with grills, playgrounds, a dog park, concessions, restrooms, and basketball, volleyball and tennis courts. Red Wing also allows visitors to borrow sports equipment from the park office.
For nature lovers, Sandbridge Beach is the perfect place to turn off the cell phone and get back in touch with Nature and what really matters most. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge has something for all ages and abilities — whether it’s an adventurous solo overnight camping trip or a relaxing, educational tram ride through Back Bay Refuge and False Cape National Park.
Sandbridge Beach has both primitive and thoughtfully appointed state parks for those seeking solitude or fun family outings. Pack a picnic and your sunscreen, then head for the hiking trails and uncrowded beaches of Sandbridge’s state parks and you’ll be set for a day you’ll remember for years to come.
Beautiful and Free! Sandbridge Beach Has Plenty of Both to Offer
There is an old saying: “The best things in life are free.” We agree! Whether it’s enjoying a gorgeous sunrise before browsing locally grown produce stands or identifying a unique bird species after a free concert in the park, there are always plenty of no-cost activities on our stretch of sand.
=&0=& – You won’t find many shells on the busy resort shores of Virginia Beach, because crews comb the beaches every day, but we don’t consider shells a “nuisance” here. Our coastline is known for being one of the best shelling shores on the East Coast, and beachcombers scour the sand daily for the
little treasures. We don’t mind if you take home several to add to your collection, but remember to keep an eye out for shark’s teeth as well. Those wash ashore regularly and are sure to delight any beachgoer.
=&1=& – If the thought of reeling in a big one gets your adrenaline pumping, then Sandbridge Beach is the perfect place to test your fishing skills. Expansive boardwalks and local docks line the miles of coastline — just remember to purchase a valid Virginia fishing license before casting your line. For an even more memorable experience, enjoy your fresh catch fried over a bonfire on the beach — nothing tastes better.
=&2=&– Sandbridge Beach is a great place to rediscover your artsy side. Write a poem about the beauty around you, or the feelings that wash over you when you hear the waves on the shore. Scribble down a short story featuring characters you see walking by on the beach or in town. Take a photo per day (or twenty!) to capture the details of your trip and make them into an album when you return home. Keep a small journal to remember interesting tidbits you’ll probably forget along the way.
=&3=&– There’s nothing like a friendly, competitive game of beach volleyball to get your blood moving. Little Island Park in Sandbridge has the perfect facilities to host your own tournament (of sorts), whether you crave a game of tennis, basketball or volleyball. Take a break for lunch in the picnic area and use the charcoal grills for your barbecue favorites. Public restrooms and seasonal rentals of kayaks, paddleboards and fishing poles are also available. To reserve the park shelter for your special event, please visit their Park Shelter Reservations or call (757) 385-PARK.
=&4=&– When is the last time you took a walk with no particular destination in mind? With miles of soft, sandy beaches and friendly shops and communities to explore, Sandbridge Beach is a great place to wander. You might meet some new friends, enjoy a wildlife sighting or find the perfect place for a picnic.
=&5=& – You don’t know beautiful until you’ve seen the sun rise from the tops of our picturesque sand dunes — you just have to roll out of your comfy bed early enough to catch it. We recommend bringing a lawn chair, a steaming cup of coffee, and your camera.
=&6=& – Use the miles of coastline to create a work of art all your own and expand your learning. Scrawl a friendly note in the sand for the next passerby or build a sprawling sand mansion at the water’s edge. The sand is also a great place to brush up on your tracking skills — count how many footprints you can identify (for example, human, crab, dog, seagull, etc.) as you take a slow walk down the beach.
=&7=& – Don’t forget to bring your favorite book or e-reader on your trip to Sandbridge Beach. You’ll be turning pages in no time as you soak up the sun and relax to the lullaby of the ocean waves. If you need something new to read, visit our local Princess Anne Area Library for other books, magazines, and resources.
Planning Your Budget-Friendly Itinerary
Sandbridge offers five miles of white, sandy beaches, towering sand dunes, and sun-soaked ocean vistas. You can make the most of your trip when you incorporate some of these low- or no-cost activities into your itinerary:
=&0=&—As home to thousands of geese, ducks, swans, sea turtles, and other wildlife, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge offers eight miles of trails where visitors can explore the beauty of nature. For just a few dollars, you can purchase a day pass to take your family hiking or biking along the scenic trails, where you may spot a bald eagle or brown pelican.
=&1=&—Located at the southern tip of Sandbridge Beach, Little Island Park offers plenty of activities for both children and adults. Play a pickup basketball game, let the smaller kids enjoy the playground, and bring a picnic basket to enjoy at one of the shaded shelters. In the afternoon, venture onto the beach for swimming and surfing, or just enjoy a stroll in the sunshine as you look for shells.
=&2=&—Bring your boogie boards for some wild, crazy ocean fun! Easier than surfing, boogie boarding lets you and your kids experience the excitement of catching some waves without the athletic prowess needed for other kinds of watersports. If you don’t have boogie boards, you can rent them for about $20 per week.
=&3=&—Most rental homes in Sandbridge include a grill for the backyard. Fire up the barbecue for some hamburgers and hot dogs or slap some steak and chicken on the grill for an unbeatable outdoor dinner. When you are pleasantly full, relax on the deck to enjoy the sunset or take a walk along the beach to look for shells.