6 Reasons Virginia Has the Greatest Beaches in the U.S.

Written by Mary Bernard
Updated: September 8, 2023
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Everyone knows that “Virginia is for lovers,” but Virginia is also for beachgoers.

Old Dominion may not be the first state to come to mind when you think of must-see beaches. Virginia’s coastline, however, boasts some of the most beautiful, unique, family-friendly, and fun beaches in the country. In fact, we believe that Virginia has the greatest beaches in the U.S.

Here are six reasons why Virginia’s beaches, situated on the James and Yorktown Rivers, Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean, are exploration-worthy.

Virginia is for lovers, and Virginia has the greatest beaches in the U.S.

Virginia’s slogan, “Virginia is for lovers,” could be changed to “Virginia has the greatest beaches in the U.S.”


Colonial Williamsburg is a history buff’s nirvana and not far from any of the beaches in Virginia.

1. Virginia’s Beaches Are Filled With Rich History

One of the original 13 U.S. colonies, Virginia is a richly historic area. In fact, the area is so significant to our country’s founding, and it’s hard not to find historical importance along its riverbanks and shorelines.

In addition to the typical activities you’d expect to enjoy at the beach — boating, kayaking, picnicking, and so on — you’ll also find opportunities to learn about these landmarks’ roles in U.S. history.

First Landing State Park

Curious about where the first English settlers landed when they journeyed to the “New World” in 1607? Retrace their steps at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, VA. The park is situated along 1.5 miles of the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Fun fact: rumor is that Blackbeard once hid in the area!

The park is 2,888 acres with more than 20 miles of trails.

Virginia has the greatest beaches in the U.S., including First Landing State Park.

First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, VA, is appropriately named, as it marks the spot of the English colonizers’ arrival to the “New World” in 1607.

©Sherry V Smith/Shutterstock.com

Jamestown Beach

After touching dry land on what is now known as First Landing State Park in 1607, English settlers, led by Captain John Smith, birthed our country at the Jamestown Settlement on the banks of the James River.

Jamestown Beach Event Park is family-friendly, with Busch Gardens nearby. The beach is on the shoreline of the historic James River that led Captain John Smith to Jamestown.

Visitors can tour replicas of the three ships that brought the early settlers to Virginia and tour the area with an archaeologist.

Jamestown Beach Virginia during a Sunny Fall Day

Visitors can explore the rich history at Jamestown Beach along the James River in Virginia.

©Natasha Bludgus/Shutterstock.com

Yorktown Beach

Yorktown Beach is a two-acre beach along the York River. It features soft white sand and gentle water and is ideal for families looking for a more laid-back spot for a day of sun and fun.

Yorktown is the site of the British army’s surrender to George Washington, putting an end to the Revolutionary War and paving the way for American independence.

Dive deeper into the history of Yorktown with a sightseeing tour of the Yorktown Battlefield and the Yorktown Victory Monument.

The York river and beach in Yorktown Virginia USA overlooking the Coleman Bridge and the Chesapeake Bay

Yorktown Beach along the York River offers a more laid-back beach experience with its soft white sand and gentle waters.

©Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock.com

Colonial Williamsburg

Even though it’s not a beach, Colonial Williamsburg is a history buff’s nirvana and not far from any of the beaches in Virginia.

Colonial Williamsburg is a “living” history lesson, offering a treat for all the senses. Experience what life was like in the 18th century; tour original and recreated buildings while learning about their historical significance.

Colonial Williamsburg Historic

Virginia beachgoers who want to take a deeper dive into our country’s history should not miss spending a day at Colonial Williamsburg — a community recreated to experience life in the 18th century.

©Christopher Sciacca/Shutterstock.com

2. Virginia’s Beachside Towns Offer Delicious Fresh Seafood

One of the greatest treats of visiting any beach is dining on fresh seafood — and Virginia’s coastal towns do not disappoint.

It’s not surprising that restaurants dotting Virginia’s coastlines are known for their delectable fresh seafood. Crab cakes, lobster rolls, shrimp, and fish tacos are regular favorites.

Other tasty meals include black drum, white perch, croaker, and flounder. With 348 species of finfish and 173 species of shellfish filling the Chesapeake Bay, there’s always something new to discover when it comes to fresh seafood.

But for a truly authentic dining experience on one of Virginia’s beaches, three dishes take top honors for being legendary here: Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, oysters, and rockfish (also known as striped bass). Locals and visitors agree that nothing compares to these seafood delights straight from the waters in Virginia.

The opportunity to dine on delicious fresh seafood is one of the most notable reasons that Virginia has the greatest beaches in the U.S.

Virginia has the greatest beaches in the U.S. because you can dine on fresh Chesapeake Bay blue crab.

Fresh seafood from the Atlantic Ocean, many rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay delight diners throughout the Virginia coastal areas. The Chesapeake Bay blue crab is a must-try meal.

©P. Dorman/Shutterstock.com

3. Virginia’s Beaches Offer Fun Activities for All Ages

If you’re looking for a fun and entertaining beach scene, Virginia Beach, VA, delivers. There’s no shortage of activities and excursions for all ages.

Parents will find the typical “beach scene” at Virginia Beach with family-friendly amenities (public restrooms and beach showers), entertainment, and dining options. A three-mile boardwalk along the Atlantic coastline is perfect for navigating the busy area.

Virginia has the greatest beaches in the U.S., including the fun Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Virginia Beach is the most popular beach in Virginia with endless options for family-friendly fun.

©iStock.com/Kyle Little

The King Neptune statue at 31st Street on the boardwalk is one landmark that’s sure to awe. King Neptune is a giant bronze statue (34 feet tall!) that depicts the mythological sea god Neptune.

King Neptune statute, famous tourist attraction at Virginia Beach, against a cloudy sky

The iconic King Neptune statue in Virginia Beach, VA, is 34 feet tall and weighs 12.5 tons.


4. Nature and Wildlife Enthusiasts Find an Abundance of Both on Virginia’s Beaches

Virginia’s beaches offer abundant flora and fauna for nature and wildlife lovers. The waters teem with fish and sea animals, the forests and marshes house numerous four-legged critters, and the trees and skies are filled with graceful winged beauties.

Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve

One location specifically dedicated to wildlife preservation is the Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve in Mathews County, VA.

The Preserve includes 105 acres of rich maritime habitats, 83 of which are occupied by untouched shorelines and expansive salt marshes. Located on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, the Preserve features a long sandy beach, low dunes, and an extensive salt marsh.

These rare species are protected at Bethel Beach, including:

  • Northeastern beach tiger beetle
  • Least Tern (small bird)
  • Northern Harrier hawk
  • Sea-beach knotweed

In addition to catching a glimpse of these rarities, you can also count on lots of bird-watching and gorgeous nature photo ops.

Virginia has the greatest beaches in the U.S., including the Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve in Virginia is home to several rare plant and animal species.

©vastateparksstaff / CC BY 2.0 – License

5. Beauty Abounds at Virginia’s Beaches

Sandbridge Beach

Just a short drive south of the Virginia Beach Boardwalk is Sandbridge Beach. Remote with gorgeous sandy beaches, tall sea oats, and vibrant marshes and bays teeming with wildlife, Sandbridge is less crowded than the other area beaches.

Located on the Currituck Banks Peninsula, the beach itself is about 4.5 miles long. This hidden gem is ideal for soaking in the beauty of the landscape, admiring the iconic Fishing Pier, searching for seashells, or walking at sunset. The Little Island Park is in the southern part of Sandbridge. There you can see diving ducks, gulls, and other seabirds in the winter and Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins in the spring and summer.

Virginia has the greatest beaches in the U.S., including the beautiful and relaxing Sandbridge Beach.

The Sandbridge Beach Fishing Pier in Virginia adds a rustic charm to the beauty of the shore.

©Alexandr Junek Imaging/Shutterstock.com

Assateague Island

Wild horses and white sandy beaches — it’s hard to think of any nature scene that’s more beautiful.

Assateague Island is a 37-mile barrier island that is partially in Virginia and partially in Maryland and is home to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. That’s where a herd of 230 wild ponies roam alongside other interesting and beautiful animals. You’ll find deer, raccoons, red foxes, brown pelicans, and the merlin (a species of falcon) in the Chincoteague forest.

Another landmark adding to the beauty of the Island is Assateague Light, an old, iconic red and white lighthouse on the Island.

Virginia has the greatest beaches in the U.S., including the Assateague Island National Seashore

The Chincoteague ponies were made famous by the fictional pony Misty in the

Misty of Chincoteague novels

first published in 1947.

©Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock.com

6. Virginia’s Beaches Provide Opportunities for Relaxation

Are you looking to unwind at the beach? Virginia’s most beautiful beaches are also some of the most relaxing. Sandbridge Beach and Assateague Island are both ideal for getting away from the crowds and connecting with the tranquility of the beach.

Cape Charles Town Beach

Cape Charles is another beautiful area known for its peace and quiet and slower pace. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride for an afternoon of sightseeing the town’s beautiful 19th-and 20th-century architecture or spend several hours floating in the gentle waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Located on the southern end of the Delmarva Peninsula, Cape Charles Beach offers a less-crowded day in the sand and surf.

Cape Charles, Beach, Virginia - US State, 2015, Bay of Water

Cape Charles Beach in Virginia offers a relaxing beachgoing experience.


Summary of Why Virginia Has the Greatest Beaches in the U.S.

RankWhat Makes Virginia’s Beaches GreatBeaches to VisitLocation
1They are filled with rich historyJamestown BeachJames River
Yorktown BeachYork River
First Landing State ParkChesapeake Bay
2They offer delicious fresh seafoodAll beachesAll locations
3They offer fun activities for all agesVirginia BeachAtlantic Ocean
4They have an abundance of nature and wildlifeBethel Beach Natural Area PreserveChesapeake Bay
5They are beautifulSandbridge Beach Currituck Banks Peninsula
Chincoteague National Wildlife RefugeAssateague Island
6They are relaxingCape CharlesDelmarva Peninsula

The photo featured at the top of this post is © 2468146/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Mary Bernard is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering places and food. Mary has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years and holds a master of education degree from Middle Tennessee State University. A resident of Tennessee, Mary grew up on a large farm. She enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her husband, three grown children, a geriatric Bichon Shih Tzu named Zoe, and a curious black cat named Salem.

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