It’s almost summer time and you know what that means… Sandbridge Beach day! Pack your bags, fill the cooler, and grab the family. We all love having fun on the beach under the warm rays of the sun. There is just something about spending time on the beach with the sound of the ocean rolling onto the shore that makes a summer day seem more enjoyable than anything else. If you’re anything like me, then you enjoy staying at the beach all day and making the most of it. But, what happens when people in your group start complaining that they want to leave because they are bored? Or maybe you are someone who wants to be able to stay at the beach all day, but you can never make it that far because you get bored. Well if either of those apply to you than here are my top 10 best beach activities.
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
What Time of Year to Surf
You can surf Sandbridge Beach almost year-round, depending on your tolerance for cold. January and February water temperatures can dip into the low 50s, but begin to approach mid-70s by May. June through October water temps remain in the high 70s to low 80s, and usually don’t fall below 65 until the end of December. The best time of day to go surfing is at low and mid-tide when the currents aren’t as strong.
Where to Go
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can surf the beaches from Little Island Park to North Sandbridge and North Sandbridge to Dam Neck all day Mondays through Thursdays. No surfing is allowed between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Little Island Park is the best place for beginners. Swells are small but steady and the bottom is sandy.
Gear Up for Safety With Wetsuits
When water temperatures fall below 70 degrees F, it can impair breathing and create a dangerous situation. In winter you’ll want a wetsuit, a hood, gloves, and booties. In early spring or late fall, you can get away with a lighter wetsuit, but do wear some form of thermal protection.
Olympic swimming pools are heated to at least 77 degrees F, so unless you’re surfing in June, July, or August, you’ll need a wetsuit. Check the water temperatures before you go to be sure.
Surf wax keeps you from sliding off the board in the water; however, after a few hours of contact while paddling out on your stomach it can cause a stinging reaction called “board rash.” If you’ve rented a traditional hardboard or are taking lessons while you’re at Sandbridge Beach, you probably will be riding a waxed board. Your best defense against board rash is a rash guard: a thin, tightly fitted neoprene shirt. If you’re renting a foam-top board, you won’t need wax — but a rash guard can help with sun protection too.
The Ins and Outs of Surfboards
In general, the smaller the waves, the bigger the board you’ll need. Sandbridge Beach surfing usually means long-board surfing. If the waves kick up, rent or bring a shorter one. Short-board surfing is more sporty, so when the waves are higher, experienced surfers are usually out en masse.
Rental surfboards come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and materials. The smallest boards are about 6 feet long and are best for experienced surfers who want to go fast and turn sharp. Short boards can also serve as learner boards for little ones. Bigger foam-top boards are made for beginners. They’re not as slippery as hard-top boards, so it’s easier to learn how to stand from a paddle; plus, they are wide and have plenty of float for more stability.
In Sandbridge Beach, the closest outfitter for surfboard rentals is Ocean Rentals. They have a wide variety of options for all skill levels, including 6’6″ short boards, and long boards up to 9’6″.
Rip tides are currents that pull away from the shore when a storm is near. Rip tides are strong enough that even the most experienced swimmers can’t fight against them. If you find yourself caught in a rip tide, don’t panic — swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of the current. Undertows are powerful bottom currents caused by water from breaking waves moving back out to sea. If you’re coming out of the water carrying a surfboard, wait for a trough before standing up.
The best way to learn to surf is by taking a few lessons. Surf & Adventure on Sandbridge Road offers a variety of lessons and camps. The least expensive option is a group lesson, a two-hour class for ages 8 and up. For just a bit more you can take a private two-hour lesson. This is a good choice for those with some experience who want to hone their skills, or for new surfers who want to learn quickly.
Sandbridge Beach has some of the best surfing on the East Coast for all skill levels. Small, gentle waves and a soft, sandy bottom make Sandbridge Beach a good place to learn to surf. When waves kick up, experienced surfers can take advantage of bigger waves without the crowds.
Did you know Sandbridge Beach can be just as enjoyable in the winter? Here are the best winter activities on the beach that prove it.
#1 Walks on the Beach With Your Loved Ones
Winter is without a doubt the most romantic time of the year. It includes spoiling your loved one with gifts at Christmas, sharing a New Year’s kiss, and spending Valentine’s Day head over heels for each other. Add a walk on the beach with your significant other and you have yourself the perfect winter. There’s something about the cold weather and the sound of the ocean that brings people closer together.
#2 Treasure Hunting
Treasure hunting is a beach activity favored by most beach goers. The winter is the perfect time of year to find rare sea glass, seashells, and buried treasure in Sandbridge. The beaches are fairly empty December through February so there’s not a lot of competition. You won’t have to worry about another hunter crowding you or constantly picking through the beach before you arrive. Have you ever thought to take a metal detector on the beach? You would be shocked by the valuable antiques you can find! Whether you’re alone looking for a peaceful activity to clear your mind or with the family looking for something fun and exciting to do, treasure hunting will be sure to do the trick.
If you are someone that loves the thrill of a new action sport or just someone that loves surfing already than winter is the perfect time to go surfing in Sandbridge. Although the East Coast gets good surf throughout the year, it goes without saying that fall and winter get the best waves. Spring and summer often have flat, weak, and sporadic waves. Fall and winter is when you’ll find the best waves on our coast. With all the nor’easters and hurricanes the surfing conditions are just right for those perfect spitting barrels. Surfing in the winter is very peaceful. You’ll have time to yourself on the water and you won’t have to fight large crowds to catch a wave you’ve been eyeing. Since there aren’t any large crowds winter is the perfect time to start learning how to surf.
If you decide to paddle out this winter just remember to grab your wetsuit! The water gets very cold, as low as 37 degrees. A 4/3 is recommended along with a hood, boots, and gloves.
#4 Relax At Your Vacation Rental
Since winter is the perfect time to cuddle up next to the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate, wouldn’t a beautiful ocean view make these moments ten times better? The winter has amazing deals on vacation rentals. There are times where a property that costs $13,500 a week drops to as little as $3,000! When you stay in your ocean front rental the perfect day is created by breathtaking scenery combined with your activities with your loved ones. Play games with the family, watch movies, cook dinner, or enjoy the company of your loved ones with the blissful sound of the waves crashing onto the shore.
Next time you get the strange urge to go to Sandbridge Beach in the winter remember there are plenty of fun winter beach activities to keep your summer memories alive all year round.
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.