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.
The last few months have been pretty rocky for everyone with the current Coronavirus pandemic. Some activities and attractions are limited and some places are closed entirely. Here at Sandbridge Blue we want to ensure that you have a safe and wonderful vacation that you can remember for many years to come! Here are a few activities we have compiled that are safer for you and your family to enjoy.
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.
Land and sea tours of Sandbridge Beach help you learn more about the history, culture, and ecology of the area. Taking a local tour will help you get to really know a place more than you ever would on your own. Whether you love the land, the water, or both, Sandbridge Beach has a variety of local tour options to match your sense of adventure.
Ready to discover the underwater sights off the coast of North Carolina? Bring your snorkeling mask or buy one locally. If you’re just leisurely paddling around, you won’t need fins. If you’re on a serious exploration mission in search of share-worthy photos, fins will help you maneuver more accurately and quickly.
When snorkeling from the beach, watch for shells and sea glass that are partially buried in the sand. Snorkelers are often rewarded with treasures that beachcombers miss. You are likely to see small fish, shrimp, and schools of baitfish in the warm, shallow waters near shore.
Sandbridge Beach is near some of the most famous shipwrecks on the coast. Book a scuba tour for expert guidance to these beautiful and haunting sites. Lynnhaven Dive Center is near Sandbridge Beach, and they have a custom dive boat that is built for comfortable diving in Atlantic waters. For wreck dives, divers can hold on to lines so they don’t get caught in the current and miss seeing the wreck.
If you’ve always wanted to learn to scuba dive, Lynnhaven also offers private scuba instruction and certification. Certification takes about four days; most of that is spent practicing in open waters near Sandbridge Beach. Training doesn’t last all day, so if you want to get certified on your vacation, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy other activities at Sandbridge.
Standup Paddle Boarding, or SUP, is a fun sport, great exercise, and it’s not as hard as it looks. Beginner paddleboards are wide and long for maximum stability, so don’t worry too much about falling off. You can rent paddleboards from Ocean Rentals or Surf & Adventure and take them to the beach on your own.
An alternative to surfing, paddleboarding allows you to use a paddle to get past the breaking waves (instead of exhausting your arms). Once you’ve cleared the rough waves, you’re already standing up — keep your eyes open for “foamies” or an “A-frame” and ride it to shore. Sandbridge is a beautiful place to learn to paddleboard — the waves are gentle, and the bottom is sandy (just in case you do fall off).
Tours are also an ideal way to enjoy paddleboarding. Rudee Inlet paddleboard tours are just up the road from Sandbridge Beach. They offer dolphin tours, sunset floating yoga, bald eagle spotting, and more, depending on the season.
Ocean Rentals also offers standup paddleboard tours. Beginners will enjoy touring the calm waters of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, while more experienced paddlers can venture out on an ocean tour from Little Island Park. Paddlers should be older than 12, but no experience is necessary or expected.
Sandbridge Beach is a kayaker’s paradise. For real peace and quiet, rent a kayak from Ocean Rentals and paddle the pristine waters of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Ocean Rentals also takes kayakers on guided tours of Back Bay and the open waters of North Bay. Kayakers can revel in the majesty of the refuge, and get up close with birds such as herons, egrets, bitterns, and migratory ducks.
Treat yourself to a truly memorable experience and sign up for a sunset ocean kayak, or a sunset dolphin kayak tour. Kayakers will see dolphin and pelagic birds such as pelicans and gannets. Some trips go out into the ocean and back, and some have a delicious end at Blue Pete’s restaurant with a van ride home.
Surfing is the ultimate beach watersport, and Sandbridge Beach is the ideal place to learn or practice your skills. If you’ve always wanted to learn, Surf & Adventure Company offers private surf lessons and surf camps for beginners. Lessons are two hours long and are held on the north side of Little Island Park Pier. Once you’re ready to surf on your own, you can rent surfboards by the day or by the week from Surf & Adventure or Ocean Rentals.
Preparing for Water Fun
If you plan to enjoy watersports on your Sandbridge Beach vacation, one of the best investments you can make is a long-sleeved rash guard with SPF protection. Rash guards initially kept surfers from getting rashes caused by surf wax, but today they offer sun and wind protection for any water lover.
Whether you’re just relaxing, honing your skills, or developing new ones, the waters around Sandbridge Beach are an aquatic paradise for anyone who loves
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
According to exercise physiologist and fitness consultant Elizabeth Quinn, “You start deconditioning (losing fitness) in about two weeks if you stop exercise altogether. Once lost, it takes nearly three times as long to recondition as it took to detrain.” Elizabeth’s best advice? “If you need to reduce your training time for a couple of weeks, don’t worry, you’ll get back to your current fitness level pretty quickly when your schedule returns to normal. Just don’t stop exercising altogether.”
According to Men’s Fitness, there are a few pros and cons to not exercising during a vacation. The biggest risk for men or women, however, isn’t losing muscle mass or gaining weight; it’s losing your drive and motivation.
Here are our favorite ways to keep your fitness mojo going while in Sandbridge Beach!
Walking is a peaceful non-strenuous exercise that nearly anyone can take part in. Walking may sound a little boring, but while you’re in Sandbridge you might as well take advantage of a nice sunrise walk across the beach. Not only is this a relaxing beautiful sight to see, the sand will add resistance and give you a nice workout as you stroll under the sun painted sky. If waking up early enough for the sunrise isn’t your thing than you can take a walk down the Virginia Beach board walk and visit shops along the way.
If walking isn’t an intense enough workout for you take it up a notch and run. As we mentioned earlier, if on the beach, the sand will add resistance and you will definitely feel the burn. Running on the beach will not only work your legs, it will work your glutes and core too. Cardio will burn off indulgent meals and keep you toned while you enjoy your vacation.
Whether you’re swimming laps in the pool or taking a relaxing swim in the ocean, the added resistance of the water will give you more of a workout than you think. Swimming engages nearly your whole body from your shoulders to your calves. WebMD.com confirms this in an interview with Tay Stratton, Head Swim Coach at the Little Rock Athletic Club. “Swimming recruits all the major muscle groups, including the shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, hips, and glutes. And because water affords 12 times the resistance as air in every direction, it really helps to build strength.”
If you hate to sweat then swimming may be the perfect cardio exercise for you! You will be sure to feel the burn after a bit and you won’t be sweating since you will be in the nice cool water.
The American Society of Golf Course Architects also has some great news to report. According to the article, “…golfers who walk and carry their own bag burn 721 calories, golfers using a pull cart burn 718 calories, golfers walking with a caddie burn 613 calories and golfers riding in a golf cart burn 411 calories on average.” You have over a dozen courses to choose from in the Sandbridge Beach area. Because this is a tourist region, pro shops are regularly looking to put together foursomes, so getting a tee time shouldn’t be a problem.
Surf, Canoe, or Kayak
Like swimming and golfing, surfing, canoeing and kayaking use resistance to build muscle. Paddling out past the break will leave your muscles burning, but that’s when the fun begins. After you get past the break you get to give your muscles a little break while you wait for the perfect wave. When the wave starts rolling in you will begin paddling again against the current, hop up, and ride the wave. Riding with wave will take a lot of core, leg and hip strength to stay balanced. When you canoe or kayak, your shoulders, upper back and mid-back are all engaged along with your core. Because the paddling motion moves you from side to side, the obliques get a particularly good workout. These three activities are sure to feel more like fun than an exercise, and who knows maybe you’ll find a new hobby while you’re at it.
Play on the Beach
A vigorous volleyball match engages every muscle in your body whether you’re playing with your kids or other adults. Throwing a ball or Frisbee can also burn a great deal of calories (especially if your children have no aim!). Running, jumping, and throwing means you
have to use everything from your fingers to your toes.
Who said working out had to be work? The goal for a vacation is to relax and destress, with these tips you will be able to fully enjoy your Sandbridge vacation without feeling like you’re exerting yourself by exercising. Let us know in the comments below if you have any tips we missed!
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?
Kayak Fishing Tours
Henry David Thoreau said, “Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Fishing from a kayak takes you back to the quiet and simplicity of the good old days. It allows you to get to places you can’t reach by motorboats; you’ll have access to protected coves and other secluded spots where fish hide from noisy motors.
Even if you’ve never kayaked, you can enjoy a guided fishing tour on the freshwater tributaries of Back Bay or on the salt waters of Rudee Inlet, where you can catch striped bass, speckled trout, drum, skate, spot, croaker, and flounder. Guides know the fishing hot spots and are happy to share their knowledge with anglers of all levels of experience. (Ask your guide about what licenses are available.)
Even if you don’t want to fish, a kayak tour of Back Bay Wildlife Refuge is a gratifying way to spend a tranquil morning or afternoon. The freshwater creeks of Back Bay are flat and calm, making for an easy paddle. You’ll move through private waterways with a prime view of birds, deer, turtles, and fish. Bring your binoculars; guides are knowledgeable about local plants and wildlife.
One of the most popular kayak trips is Surf and Adventure’s Paddle to Blue Pete’s. This tour is an easy 2.5-mile, one-way trip to Blue Pete’s restaurant, a favorite hangout for locals and visitors. For an extra dose of awesome, sign up for the sunset tour.
Birders will appreciate Kayak Nature Tours half-day eco kayak tours from First Landing State Park. Tour highlights include abundant osprey, a pair of bald eagles, and a profusion of other birds and animals. This trip is a 3-mile paddle that stops for a beach snack at the midpoint.
If you’d like to get beyond the flat water and into the ocean, an ocean kayak tour is the trip of a lifetime. Your guide will teach you how to paddle through the surf. Once beyond the breakers, you’ll spot dolphins, turtles, diving birds, and schools of fish.
Standup Paddleboard (SUP) Tours
If you’ve never been paddleboarding, prepare to fall in love. Paddleboarding feels like walking on water, and it’s a wonderfully peaceful way to spend a few hours. Because paddleboards move so slowly, they don’t startle birds and other wildlife. You’ll get closer than ever before to great blue heron, pelicans, cormorants, and more. Dolphins are very curious about SUPs and often swim right alongside paddlers.
Paddleboarding is good exercise, but it’s easy to learn and easy to adapt to your fitness level. You can stand up to paddle, but with a little practice you can switch back and forth between paddling from a kneeling or sitting position, too.
Surf and Adventure also welcomes paddleboarders on their crowd-pleasing Paddle to Blue Pete’s. No experience is necessary.
If there’s one thing that makes people smile universally, it’s dolphins. A dolphin-watching tour is not only a sure way to spot these fascinating, intelligent creatures, it’s the best way to learn about their habits and habitats. Rudee Tours offers dolphin cruises aboard their comfortable 65-foot catamaran. This tour is perfect for the whole family because there are restrooms, snacks, an air-conditioned cabin, and handicapped accessibility. Plus, if you don’t see a dolphin on your trip, they’ll take you out again for free.
Biking Sandbridge Beach is the best mix of adventure, exercise, and wonder. Roads and trails are relatively flat, so biking is as easy or as challenging as you want it to be. Choose to bike the interior of False Cape and you’ll also get to charge over dunes and through shallow valleys. You’ll likely glimpse deer, wild pigs, and migratory birds that you won’t spot anywhere else. Deserted beaches are hard to find these days, but if you bike the beach on a fat-tire sand bike and you’ll find you have the scenery and wildlife all to yourself.
If you’re looking for a short tour, sign up for a sunrise or sunset tour into the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge. These are the most active times for wildlife, so this is an exciting trip for kids and nature lovers.
Taking a guided land or sea tour of the unique Sandbridge Beach ecosystem gives you local knowledge about the history, wildlife, and ecology of this extremely diverse geography. When you don’t have to plan all the details yourself, you’ll reach a deeper level of relaxation on your vacation.
Take a Hike
Whether you enjoy a leisurely stroll or a brisk walk that gets your heart pumping, Sandbridge Beach has plenty of beautiful nature trails. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is an 8,000-acre refuge bordering the ocean and Back Bay. While you may hike at home, here you’ll get the added bonus of gorgeous views, including sand dunes, forests, marshes, beaches, and ponds.
Adjacent to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is False Cape State Park. This stunning barrier island has more than nine miles of hiking trails and six miles of beaches. Take your swimsuit; there’s nothing better than a dip in the ocean after a long walk.
Rent a Bike
Several outfitters rent bikes in Sandbridge Beach. Ocean Rentals offers beach cruisers, fat-tire bikes, and mountain bikes. Beach cruisers are an ideal way to take in miles of shoreline while working your quads. Be sure to reapply sunscreen frequently and drink plenty of water. Fat-tire and mountain bikes are a flexible way to ride the trails at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park because you can coast along or really pump it up for a challenging workout.
Go for a Run
Running the Sandpiper and Sandfiddler loops that border the beach lets you log some miles while enjoying the scenery. This loop covers seven miles of flat, scenic, oceanside terrain. Start at the top of Sandbridge Road where it meets Sandfiddler Road, head south, and turn around when you get to Little Island Park.
If you plan to run on the beach, stick to wet sand. While a soft-sand run can give you a vigorous workout, it may make you more susceptible to shin splints — especially if you’re running barefoot.
Hit the Beach
Whether you’re looking forward to a little solitary sunrise yoga or an enthusiastic game of beach volleyball, the shore is the perfect place for fitness fun. For an alternative to Frisbee, locals bring a bucket of golf balls to the beach and create a version of the classic ski ball board in the sand. Dig five circles increasing in size from golf ball to grapefruit, stand back 10 feet, roll your golf ball and try to hit one of the holes. This combination of cornhole, ski ball, and golf is pleasurable exercise — you’ll log plenty of steps chasing errant balls.
Learn to Surf
Surfing is excellent exercise. You’ll get a cardio workout, plus strengthen your arms and shoulders while you paddle out and improve your balance by learning to stand up on the board. The best part of surfing is that it requires total concentration. By the time you’ve finished practicing, you’ll be relaxed and will feel great. Pick up your board from Ocean Rentals and they’ll recommend a size and shape for your level of experience.
Kayak or Paddleboard
Standup paddleboarding is a clever alternative to surfing. Using a large, buoyant surfboard and a long paddle, you will make your way through the waves while standing or kneeling on the board. When you’re ready to catch a wave, just turn around and take your paddle out of the water. For an easy, peaceful experience, go past the breakers and travel parallel to the shore. You can also rent a single or double kayak and explore Back Bay or the shoreline from the water. Ocean Rentals offers kayaks and paddleboards by the day, and will deliver right to your rental house on Sandbridge Beach.
Take a Class
While you’re recharging on vacation, why not take a class and try something totally new? The Princess Anne Community Recreation Center is only five miles from Sandbridge Beach. You can get a day pass for this 83,000-square-foot recreational facility that allows access to group fitness classes such as Zumba, Pilates, yoga, and more. Most classes take place in the morning, so you can get up and get moving. You’ll also have access to the center’s cardio and weightlifting equipment, an indoor pool with lap lanes, a diving board and an ADA lift, racquetball courts, and a sportwall.
Whether you’re taking a quiet solo stroll through a nature preserve or trying a spirited group fitness class at the community center, Sandbridge Beach has exciting ways to stay fit on vacation. Pack your tennis shoes and workout gear and you’ll likely experience new adventures … and go home in better shape than when you left.