As an angler, you know that the adventure of fishing is as much about the experience as it is reeling in the big one. If you’re used to one type of fishing (or fish), you’ll love the variety that awaits you in Sandbridge Beach, Virginia.
If you are in need of some boredom-busting adventure while you are vacationing in Sandbridge Beach check out these unique opportunities.
See it from the water
There is something special about seeing Sandbridge from the water. There are many watersports and tours to choose from such as Kayak tours, Paddleboarding, Dolphin tours, and the Wildlife Tram tour.
See Back Bay From the Water
There’s something special about seeing Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge from the water. Fall is quiet — the right time to enjoy watersports and tours. Always wanted to learn to paddleboard or surf? Come on down.
Kayak the Tributaries
Rent a canoe or kayak from Surf & Adventure Co. and take their two-hour guided tour of the quiet tributaries that run through the refuge to the Atlantic Ocean. Your guide will help you identify all the magnificent birds and wildlife that become active in cooler temperatures.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, take an ocean kayak tour. You’ll likely spot dolphins and pelagic birds as you cruise the quiet waters of the coast. For a special treat, book the Blue Pete’s kayak tour. This one-way paddle begins in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and ends at Blue Pete’s restaurant around sunset. Have dinner, then catch your ride back to your car at the refuge.
Learn to Surf or Paddleboard
Waters around Sandbridge Beach are still warm enough in early fall to surf or paddleboard, though you might want to rent a thin wetsuit. Sandbridge Beach has gentle waves and a sandy bottom, making it the ideal place for beginning paddleboarders or surfers. You can rent surfboards and paddleboards by the day or week, and some outfitters even deliver right to your cottage.
Hike Off the Beaten Path
Hike or Camp False Cape State Park
The East and West Dike Trail to False Cape State Park is open until October 31. False Cape State Park is accessible only by foot or by boat, so this is a truly special bucket list trip. There are a few primitive campsites in the park, and staying overnight allows visitors to experience the absolute quiet and stunning starlight displays that day visitors miss. False Cape also features the ruins of a church and cemetery that are worth exploring.
Prefer a bed to a sleeping bag? Day hikers who take the 7.6-mile coastal trail hike in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge can see white-tailed deer, multiple species of birds, migrating waterfowl, foxes, rabbits, and the occasional sea turtle. This hike will take you through diverse ecologies such as beaches, sand dunes, fields, marshes, and woodlands so you can kiss boredom goodbye.
Go Offshore Fishing
There’s always something biting at Sandbridge, and there are plenty of places to fish in peace. Here’s a list of what’s running in spring, where to find them, and how to catch them.
Atlantic mackerel is a flaky whitefish that only needs a little butter and salt before grilling. Mackerel are abundant around Sandbridge, and are best caught by jigging over schools of fish. Use your own boat outside of the surf or take an offshore charter to find them.
Black or Red drum fish have a sweet and mild flavor that lends itself well to rubs and marinades before grilling. Use whelk, clams, crab, or jigs to cast into running schools of fish at dusk, and watch for diving birds to show you where they are. From the beach, wade to the sandbar just past low tide, cast toward the ocean, and wait for fish to run as the tide comes in.
Bluefish is delicious baked in any citrus-based marinade. Though most bluefish are found offshore, you can sometimes catch these large fish by surfcasting with cut bait. Bluefish can weigh up to 25 pounds, so if you’re surfcasting, be ready for a workout.
Croaker is another tasty, mild fish that only need a little butter and salt before grilling. They are attracted to crab, worms, and shrimp and can be easily caught by bottom fishing from a boat, by casting off of the Little Island Pier, or into the surf from any beach. Local anglers also like the Back Bay boat ramp for finding croaker in the evening.
A perennial favorite, there’s nothing better than fresh flounder with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Flounder are fun to catch on live bait while drift fishing, slow trolling on the bottom, or surfcasting from the beach. If you’re casting from the beach, make sure your bait clears the sandbar. Little Island Pier and near the Sandbridge Market beach are favorite fishing holes for flounder.
Gourmands like to prepare this sought-after sea trout with a mustard base and seasoned breadcrumb coating. You’ll have the most success catching gray trout with artificial lures or small live bait. Cast into schools from a boat or surfcast at dusk when schools are running parallel to the beach.
Striped bass taste best when prepared with a simple mixture of butter, garlic, onion, lemon, and sea salt. Use artificial lures or live bait to troll from a boat, or cast off of Little Island Pier. If you want to try surfcasting for bass, watch for diving gulls to indicate running schools.
Prepare tautog just as you would flounder. You can easily land these medium-size fish by bottom fishing from a boat with crab bait. Tautog schools usually hang out near reefs and wrecks, so you may have to go offshore to find them.
Everyone loves the tasty dolphin fish (also known as mahi-mahi so as not to be confused with the beloved mammal of the same name). Look for schools of dolphin fish offshore all spring and summer long. They are best caught with artificial lures from a trolling rig.
You’ll need a fishing license to fish at Sandbridge Beach. Pick up a five-day saltwater and freshwater license at Margie & Ray’s Crabhouse on Sandbridge Road.
Where to Fish
If you have your own boat, you can launch at Mill Landing Road Ramp, North Bay Shore Campground, Owl Creek Boat Ramp, or Rudee Inlet. You can also fish from state-owned ramps such as Mill Landing and Back Bay Landing.
For pier fishing, the 400-foot Little Island Pier is great for getting your line in deeper water without a boat.
In Back Bay National Wildlife refuge, Back Bay is a brackish lake that has a healthy fish and crab population. The tributary creeks that feed into the lake are teeming with largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill in spring. Bank fishing is limited on some creeks, so check your license before you cast.
The best surf fishing is also in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The beach past the ranger’s shack is a popular spot for anglers because no swimming or surfing is allowed.
If you’re new to offshore fishing, it’s best to hire a charter. Your charter will come with an experienced guide, safety equipment, and fishing gear. Most offshore trips require anglers to get at least five miles into the ocean, so prepare for an intensive day on the water. If you don’t mind getting out of sight of land, you’ll be rewarded with big fish and bigger tales to tell.
From intense offshore trips to relaxing casts from the pier or beach, Sandbridge Beach has a variety of fishing opportunities to suit all budgets and levels of ambition.
Newer to the area, we have indoor skydiving at iFly. iFly is a 14’ temperature controlled indoor skydiving venue located on Pacific Ave. in Virginia Beach. Once you check-in you will have a small training session where you learn the proper body position for flying and hand signals the instructor will use while you are flying. After that you gear up and are ready to go! Each flight last 60 seconds. Even if you have little ones who are brave and want to go it is totally safe for anyone ages 3 and up!
The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium
Spend the day zipping from tree to tree at The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium! The Adventure Park is the largest forest climbing park in the nation with 15 trails, 21 zip lines, 6 difficulty levels and 200 challenge bridges. You will be able to choose a 2 or 3 hour forest adventure. This does not include the safety orientation that you must take before climbing. With 15 different trails to choose from, beginner to advance, The Adventure Park is a great way to spend a day of active fun with your friends and/or family.
Stand Up Paddleboarding
Stand up paddleboarding, also known as SUP, is a bit more relaxing but still a lot of fun and gives you a full body workout. Riders balance themselves standing on the board and use a paddle to navigate through water. While staying in Sandbridge you have access to all the canals and Back Bay Wildlife Refuge to paddle through. If you are looking for more of a rush you can head over to the beach and catch some waves. Never paddle boarded before but interested in learning? Check out Surf and Adventure! They offer group or private lessons and well as SUP tours.
Spend the day soaking in the sun while experiencing nature at it most pristine. With over 121 navigable miles of waterways Virginia Beach is a perfect place to go kayaking. If you have your own kayak there are a few different launch sites at Back Bay Wildlife refuge. If you are traveling you can rent or go on a kayak tour at Surf and Adventure. They offer 6 different tours from a eco tour to a kayak fishing tour.
You can get such an adrenaline rush from offshore fishing especially if you catch a blue marlin or a yellowfin tuna. Most trips last from 12 to 17 hours and need to be reserved in advance. The day starts before the sun comes up. You will head out to wrecks, offshore towers, and underwater canyons 75 miles from shore. Once you get where you are going you will drop your line and hopefully be reeling in a 300-pound tuna. You can book offshore fishing charters with Rudee Tours. They even offer 3 hourly nightly fishing tour, from 6 pm to 9pm, that is perfect for kids.
Back Bay Wildlife Refuge/ False Cape State Park
Back Bay Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park is such a beautiful place to go hiking or biking. These are two different locations and offer different sights but you can only access False Cape through Back Bay Wildlife Refuge.
Back Bay has 8 miles of scenic trails to explore. They offer tours and educational programs. You will have amazing views of the bay and may see some wildlife such as birds and deer along the trails.
False Cape has 6 miles of beaches, 12 campsites, and 9 miles of hiking/biking. They also offer tours and educational programs. If you plan on visiting for just the day you will be able to take a tram from Back Bay. You will have 2 hours to explore the area. While you are there be sure to check out Wash Woods area. There is an old church and cemetery. If you plan on stay the night you will have to hike/bike through Back Bay refuge.
Even though many people choose to vacation in Virginia Beach to spend the day in the sun building sandcastles there are many activities in the area for the more adventurous time. Have you tried one of these activities? I am sure there are many other things to do in the area to get your adrenaline going. Is there a place that you go to every year that we may have missed?