The best beaches in Virginia are also some of the best in the United States. With a long coastline that’s more than 7,000 miles long that borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, there’s no shortage of incredible spots for your beach holiday.
Of course, everyone thinks of the iconic Virginia Beach, but there are so many more options in Virginia that are amazing and very underrated.
With this in mind, we created a guide for the best beaches in Virginia, so let’s get into it.
The 7 Best Beaches in Virginia
Let’s get into our list of the best beaches in Virginia. If you’re wondering how we made our ranking, skip ahead to the next section.
1. Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach, VA
It’s no surprise that Virginia Beach takes the top spot on our list of the best beaches in Virginia. The beach borders the Atlantic Ocean and has a long white sand shore. The water is swimmable all year, but the it warms up at the end of spring and during the summer.
Since it’s near Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach also has many activities and hotels to choose from! Some activities include snorkeling, biking at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, exploring the massive three-mile boardwalk, and much more!
2. Colonial Beach
Colonial Beach, VI
Located in Northern Virginia between the Potomac and Monroe Bay, Colonial Beach is a beautiful beach with plenty of activities. The shore is 2.5 miles long and borders the Atlantic. It’s also a great option for people with boats because it has several marinas nearby for long days of fishing.
The beach allows pets from October to March, which makes this a great place to vacation if you want to bring your four legged friend along with you. It is also part of a small seaport town so you can go to the city as well and explore its many dining options or learn its rich history.
3. Westmoreland State Park
Westmoreland State Park has a whopping 1.5 miles shoreline along the Potomac. The park is a lovely choice if you wish to be in nature and at the beach all at once.
Westmoreland State park is known for its sense of peace. It also has incredible scenery, like the spectacular views of the horsehead cliffs. But there are also many activities to do at Westmoreland State Park, like hiking and fishing. You can even stay on the actual park grounds in beautiful cabins!
Perhaps the thing that makes it one of the best beaches in Virginia is its lovely sunsets!
4. Sandbridge Beach
Virginia Beach, VI
Sandbridge Beach is the place to go if you want to experience Virginia Beach without tourists. It’s part of Virginia Beach, but it’s technically also its own beach with an incredible 4.5 miles of shoreline on the Atlantic.
If you want to get away from the crowds and experience the location for what it is, then this is where Sandbridge Beach earns its spot as one of the best beaches in Virginia.
It has fewer restaurants, hotels, and shops than Virginia beach, but it is a better place to enjoy the sunsets, sand dune activities, and to really feel the power of the Atlantic through its big waves.
There’s also False Cape State Park not too far away where you can do other activities like swimming and hiking.
5. Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island National Seashore is one of the prettiest places in Virginia, period. It not only has 37 miles of beautiful shoreline that goes from Virginia all the way to Maryland, but it also has many scenic landscapes, and even ponies!
Yes, you read that right, Assateague Island is known for being the home to wild Chincoteague Ponies. It’s also a fantastic place for bird watchers as a lot of rare birds migrate past Assateague each year.
Assateague Island National Seashore is a fantastic beach, but as you can see, it’s so much more than that. That’s how it earned its spot as one of the best beaches in Virginia.
6. Cape Charles Beach
Cape Charles, VI
Located on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Cape Charles Beach is truly one of the best beaches in Virginia. It’s perfect for those who want a quiet experience, but still want to be in a town as opposed to a park.
The beach is known for its shallow and warm water, so it’s a great spot to take the little ones, too. While it is a quiet area, there are still plenty of places you can book excursions if it strikes your fancy.
The beach is also pet friendly, so you can truly bring the whole family to you vacation here! In fact, this is one of the best beaches in Virginia for a relaxing family holiday.
7. Croatan Beach
Virginia Beach, VI
Yet another beach that is but isn’t part of Virginia Beach, this is a great Atlantic Ocean shore for those who love outdoor activities. Croatan Beach is located south of Rudee Inlet and north of Camp Pendleton.
Croatan Beach is one of the best beaches in Virginia for surfing. Home to the East Coast Surfing Championships for 40 years, this is definitely one of the best beaches in Virginia for anyone interested in water sports.
What Makes for Best Beaches in Virginia?
You may be wondering how we came up with the list of the best beaches in Virginia. Here are the criteria we’re using:
While a packed beach could be obnoxious and dirty, a popular beach is typically so for good reason. Popular beaches also tend to have more activities and food options for visitors, and more Google reviews to give us a glimpse of what the beach is like before arriving.
Let’s face it, not all beaches are created equal. Some are pristine and have nice smooth sand and clear water, and others are not so great.
We believe that a good beach has soft sand that isn’t filled with rocks and seaweed, clean water, and of course, good weather.
Any beach with lifeguards on duty throughout the day is a massive plus in our book. Safety at the beach is essential, and a lifeguard ensures everyone has a good time safely.
The last thing you want is to go to the beach expecting amenities, and then going hungry because there are none. It’s not only the beach itself that matters, but everything else around it that turns a spot from a good beach to the best beach.
What to Bring to the Beach
Preparedness is essential for any beach outing you do. If you fail to bring certain things then your beach trip can go from a great experience to an awful one quite quickly.
Sunscreen is essential as a beach outing exposes you to light and heat for more hours than your skin is likely accustomed to. Thus sunscreen is crucial for preventing anything from serious diseases caused by too much UV exposure like skin cancer to more minor afflictions like sunburn.
There are plenty of good sunscreens out there, but we suggest Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray. It’s vegan and healthy for your skin, all while preventing sunburns!
Another way to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful effects is to seek cover under the cool shade, and what better way to do that than to have a tent or an umbrella?
Bringing your own tent or umbrella is a great way to keep yourself safe from the heat and the sun. They can prevent dehydration and sunburn.
As far as tents go, we recommend the SUN NINJA Pop-Up Beach Tent Sun Shelter. Featuring UPF50+ protection, this tent will keep you cool and safe from UV rays.
The Two-Towel Rule
Anyone who goes to the beach might be familiar with this great rule: you need two towels! One to dry yourself, and one to lay on.You shouldn’t put the towel you dry yourself with on the ground, or it will become caked in sane and consequently cover you with sand when you use it to dry off a second time.
The solution is to bring a second towel!
We recommend you get Utopia Towels Cabana Stripe Beach Towels on Amazon!
What’s better than sitting in a chair, looking out at the beach, and drinking an ice-cold drink? Not much in our opinion! That’s why we suggest you bring one yourself. If you’re not laying down on a towel, a chair is a great way to relax on the beach.
We recommend the Rio Beach 17″ Extended Height 4 Position Folding Beach Chair. This is a comfy and portable chair with a cupholder that will serve you well at one of the best beaches in Virginia.
Snacks and Beverages
While you can go out to eat at a nearby restaurant, the fact remains that you’ll probably get a bit hungry before you do that. There’s nothing that awakens your hunger as much as spending a day in the sun!
That’s why bringing snacks is essential. Chips or deli meat sandwiches will more than suffice at the beach, and beverages are also important to stay hydrated.
The best way to store these items and keep them fresh is in a cooler. That’s why we suggest getting the Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Cooler.
Sunscreen and tents aren’t the only things you should bring to protect yourself from the sun. Items like sunglasses and hats are great tools to keep you safe, too!
Sunglasses protect your eyes from the harmful light of the sun. A hat is important for protecting your scalp, which is more vulnerable to sun damage than most people think!
For sunglasses, we recommend Joopin Square Sunglasses Polarized. These glasses will protect your eyes from the harsh sunlight and make you look stylish! As far as hats go, we recommend Connectyle Outdoor Mesh Sun Hat.
Visit the Best Beaches in Virginia
Virginia is a great place to visit on your vacation. It has plenty of beaches and many of them are in incredibly beautiful state parks. I hope this list has inspired you to choose your own favorite beach!
Looking for great beaches in other states, too? Then check out my best beaches posts to discover the greatest summer destinations across the country!