A small hill with a fence on Sandbridge Beach with the ocean beyond.
Sandbridge Beach in Virginia offers a serene setting just a few miles south of Virginia Beach. Fewer crowds, more fun!

Updated 1/24/24 by Lori

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Close your eyes and imagine a pristine stretch of coastline, where the salty breeze whispers through dunes along with the rhythmic crashing of waves—a beach where tranquil moments and breathtaking sunsets await. 

Welcome to Sandbridge Beach in Virginia – a coastal haven tucked away from the hustle and bustle, inviting you to swim, kayak, fish, surf, explore wildlife or work on your tan lines.

While Virginia Beach boasts a vibrant boardwalk and loads of nightlife, Sandbridge Beach offers a refreshing contrast that peace seekers find irresistible. This hidden gem, just a stone’s throw away from the city, holds the key to a serene and unspoiled beach experience like no other in Virginia. 

So, why should you pack your bags and head to Sandbridge Beach? For starters, you’re close to everything a large city like Virginia Beach offers without being in the middle of it all. 

Secondly, you get the flavor and ambiance of the Outer Banks without having the hassle of an extra two hours of driving. It’s the best of both worlds. 

Let’s delve deeper into what Sandbridge Beach in Virginia offers, unveiling why this beach destination deserves a top spot on your summer travel bucket list and why it’s my favorite beach in Virginia.  

A bird's eye view of Sandbridge Beach in Virginia.
So many activities, so few crowds. If that sounds like a good combination, Sandbridge Beach in Virginia might be the place for you.

Is Sandbridge Beach the Same as Virginia Beach?

Sandbridge Beach location
Sandbridge Beach, southeast Virginia.

Sandbridge Beach is within the city limits of Virginia Beach, Virginia. However, it is NOT part of the Virginia Beach oceanfront tourist destination.

Sandbridge Beach and the Virginia Beach oceanfront boardwalk area offer distinct experiences, each with its own appeal. While both destinations share the allure of the Virginia coastline, they differ significantly in the atmosphere. 

Sandbridge Beach stands out for its tranquil environment. Sandbridge exudes a sense of peace and serenity, unlike the bustling Virginia Beach boardwalk. The absence of high-rise hotels and commercial development allows visitors to immerse themselves in the raw, natural beauty of the beach. 

Towering sand dunes, swaying sea oats, and miles of pristine shoreline create a picturesque and undisturbed setting. You’ll find beautiful single-family homes and a few condos for rent, and small mom-and-pop businesses to visit. 

No big-box businesses, tacky tourist traps, or trendy nightclubs are here. However, the city of Virginia Beach is only a few miles away if you want to visit the excitement of the city and then retreat to quieter Sandbridge to sleep and relax.  

Endless Possibilities

Is Sandbridge Beach part of the Outer Banks?

The answer is yes and no. Geographically Sandbridge Beach in Virginia is the northernmost tip of the Outer Banks.  

However, culturally it is not considered part of the Outer Banks, and from Sandbridge, there is no direct way to reach the Outer Banks of North Carolina by car. If you’re adventurous, you can bike (or hike) the 20 miles on the beachfront to get to the Outer Banks. 

While it’s not far from Virginia Beach, navigating to this great beach requires many turns. In general, you’ll need to take General Booth Blvd to Sandbridge Road and take Sandbridge Road about 4.6 miles, where the road will turn to the south at the oceanfront.

You’ll see Sandbridge Realty to the right and parking on the left.  

Directions to Sandbridge Beach and Parking

Directions to Sandbridge header
Knowing how to find Sandbridge Beach in Virginia is the first step to enjoying all this quiet beach has to offer.
While it’s not far from Virginia Beach, navigating to this great beach requires many turns. In general, you’ll need to take General Booth Blvd to Sandbridge Road and take Sandbridge Road about 4.6 miles, where the road will turn to the south at the oceanfront.

You’ll see Sandbridge Realty to the right and parking on the left. 

 

Parking at Sandbridge Beach

On the summer weekends, parking is at a premium. There is a small, paved parking lot with a nice bathroom, showers, and a convenience store at the north end of town at 2524 Sandpiper Rd. 

If this lot is full, head further south to Little Island Park at 3820 Sandpiper Rd. This is a much bigger parking lot with bathrooms, showers, picnic tables, and a playground. 

Both lots are $5 for all-day parking and $3 for Virginia Beach residents. 

Things to Do in Sandbridge Beach in Virginia

Surfing, deep sea fishing, golfing and kayaking
You’ll never get bored in Sandbridge.

My family road trips to Sandbridge several times every year because there is something for everyone. We love the well-groomed beach with lifeguards, bathrooms, showers, and a convenience store.

We also love watching the large population of dolphins that swim close to shore, probably due to the abundance of fish. If you love wildlife, you can see even more animals at the nearby Back Bay Wildlife Preserve–more on that later. 

Sports

Sandbridge always keeps you busy if you have an active family like mine. Swimming is a pretty obvious activity here. But there are plenty of other things to keep your whole family happy. 

Surfing, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding

The Atlantic Ocean kicks up some decent surfing waves in this area. Our favorite places for lessons and rentals are Surf and Adventure and  Ocean Rentals. Both offer surfing lessons and rental equipment and are conveniently located in Sandbridge. Both places rent umbrellas, chairs, and other beach equipment. 

You may also rent surfing and beach equipment from Moneysworth Beach Equipment, though they do not offer lessons. 

You may also rent kayaks and paddleboards and even take a tour with the excellent guides from the above outfitters. 

Biking 

If you’re staying in Sandbridge, you’ll want some bikes. You can bike in and around Sandbridge and on the beach all the way to False Cape State Park. The best places to rent bikes are

Ocean Rentals, Emerald E-Bike Rentals, or  Moneysworth Beach Equipment.

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Hiking

Due to high heat, humidity, and bugs, summer isn’t the best time to hike in Sandbridge. But the other three seasons offer stunning coastal hikes along the Atlantic Ocean and Bay Back. 

Back Bay Wildlife Refuge

You’re in for a wild treat at Back Bay Wildlife Refuge! This place is a nature lover’s paradise, bursting with a ton of fascinating wildlife.

Picture this: sprawling marshes, serene ponds, and lush forests where you can spot incredible creatures, from graceful herons gliding above the water to playful river otters.

The refuge is home to an abundance of bird species, bobcats, other mammals, and reptiles. So grab your binoculars and embark on the scenic trails, hop on a kayak for a water adventure, or join a guided tram tour to learn more about the diverse ecosystem. No dogs allowed. 

False Cape State Park

Get ready to really get off the beaten path and discover the gem that is False Cape State Park. This place is an adventurer’s dream, where untouched nature meets the shimmering coastline.

Lace-up your hiking boots or hop on your bike because, guess what? You can’t drive here! But don’t worry, because the journey is half the fun. As you explore the park’s scenic trails, keep your eyes peeled for majestic wild horses roaming freely, elusive foxes darting through the dunes, and various bird species soaring above the marshes. 

You’ll connect with nature in this remote park with no noisy cars to disturb the peace. So pack your backpack with plenty of food, water, and bug spray, embrace the thrill of hiking or biking, and prepare for an unforgettable experience.

Golf

There are two excellent golf courses near Sandbridge Beach in Virginia. Hell’s Point Golf Club is at 2700 Atwoodtown Road in Virginia Beach.

This golf club features an 18-hole championship course designed by renowned architect Rees Jones. It is known for its challenging layout and beautiful coastal scenery, providing an enjoyable experience for golfers of all skill levels.

Red Wing Lake Golf Course is at 1144 Prosperity Road in Virginia Beach. This is an 18-hole public golf course designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay. It offers a challenging and scenic layout, incorporating natural water features and picturesque views. 

The course is known for its well-manicured fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and undulating greens.

Both golf courses feature a driving range, practice putting green, and a short game area for golfers to warm up or work on their skills. They also have a clubhouse that houses a pro shop where golf equipment, apparel, and accessories can be purchased. The clubs also offer a restaurant and bar area for post-round dining or socializing.

Deep Sea Fishing Tours out of Rudee Inlet

The steep, rocky wall of the Norfolk Canyon off the shore of Virginia is a favorite hangout of large predatory fish–making deep-sea fishing a must for those who love the thrill of landing a big one. You might catch mako sharks, swordfish, blue marlin, tuna, and dolphin fish (among many others). 

Check out these outfitters: AfishinadoVB Fishing Charters, Waverunner Sport Fishing Charters, Four Reel Charters, Knot Tell’n Fishing Charters, and Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing.

Fishing Off the Pier

If deep-sea fishing is a bit much for you or your little ones, you can also toss in a pole at either   Sandbridge Fishing Pier or the Little Island Park Fishing Pier. Both piers require a fishing pass.

Fishing Pier Fees:

Sightseeing: $1 resident / $2 non-resident

Fishing: $8 resident / $10 non-resident

Weekly pier fishing pass: $25 resident / $35 non-resident

Annual pier fishing pass: $100

*Children 9 and under are free with paying adult (for fishing)

Restaurants

There aren’t many restaurants or nightclubs in Sandbridge, but what they lack in quantity, they make up for in quality. Baja’s is my favorite place to eat, drink, and party. They have delicious food, strong drinks, and a covered live music pavilion on the water. Seriously, don’t leave Sandbridge without a visit. Insider tip: Bring bug spray if staying past dusk…the bugs can be bad.   

The Sandbridge Island Restaurant is another great place to grab a pizza on the oceanfront deck or go inside and eat off the extensive menu. Happy hour is from 5 to 7 pm daily and the drinks are GOOD!

Other places we love are:

  • Baja Coffee Company – We love Baja’s coffee and cocktail shop, even if it’s not in Sandbridge proper (it’s just a short drive away). Grab a breakfast sandwich or a panini for lunch at the beach. 
  • Sage Kitchen– Off Sandbridge Road away from the beach in Anderson’s Garden Center. Just a relaxing and beautiful place to grab a bite to eat. 
  • Simply Steamed–Full disclosure: I am not a seafood lover. But a little bird told me this place is fantastic!
  • Ben & Jerrys–What’s better than ice cream after a hot day in the sun? Nothing! Thank goodness for Ben & Jerry’s.  
  • Bandido’s Tacos and Burritos– I’ve stopped at this little food truck off Sandbridge Road more times than I want to admit. Look for the truck around the 600 block of Sandbridge Road away from the beach. 
  • Mello Beans Beach House–This adorable little coffee shop with specialty coffee, teas, and smoothies is near the taco truck at 661 Sandbridge Rd. 
  • Margie & Ray’s Crabhouse and Restaurant–This extremely popular and top-rated restaurant stays packed. So get there early, especially on the weekends. They’re famous for their steamed blue crabs. 

Shopping    

There isn’t an abundance of shopping in Sandbridge–and we like it that way. If you want to have a day of shopping, there are plenty of opportunities in Virginia Beach. But there are a few places to check out in Sandbridge.

  • Bay Breeze Farms– I never leave Sandbridge without buying something delicious or decorative at this beautiful, family-owned business. Choose from fresh seafood, baked goods, canned goods, fresh-cut flowers, and produce. Located at 1136 Sandbridge Road. 
  • Sandpiper Beach Shop– Located directly across the street from the beach and parking lot, this is pretty much the only game in town for souvenirs, swimwear, beach supplies, and saltwater taffy. My son broke his boogie board and ran across the street to buy a new one here. They literally saved the day. 
  • Sandbridge Seaside Market– This is the only place to buy groceries in Sandbridge proper. And is a great place to pick up snacks and drinks for the beach. It’s a short walk from the oceanfront for lunch or mouthwatering homemade donuts. Daily lunch specials. Pick up a T-shirt or hoodie to remember your trip. 

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Where to Stay in Sandbridge

Condos perched to the left above Sandbridge Beach in Virginia.
Open stretches of beach aren’t uncommon at Sandbridge Beach. Come south to a more relaxed atmosphere.

There are no hotels, motels, or resorts in Sandbridge. However, there are many home and condo rentals in the area. And because the land mass is narrow, you’re never far from the beach, no matter where you stay.  

Contact Sandbridge Realty or search Vrbo or AirBnb for more information, prices, and reservations. 

Camping at Sandbridge

A camper sits on the beach as the small waves roll in.
Camping near Sandbridge Beach in Virginia is an excellent option, with five great campgrounds/RV parks nearby.

Bringing your camper with you? Not a problem. The area has five great campgrounds and RV sites, all with enough amenities to please most travelers. While only one RV park is in Sandbridge, the others aren’t very far away, allowing you to be close to this beautiful beach, away from the crowds a few minutes north.

  • Surfside Outdoor Resorts RV Park– This RV has luxury rentals on the sound side of Sandbridge. This lovely resort is close to Bajas and across the road from the beachfront. 
  • Sea Mist RV Park–This is an excellent option for active duty or retired military members, just a few miles up the road at Dam Neck Navy Base. This is a nice campground directly on the beach and just a short drive to Sandbridge. 
  • North Bay Shore Campground– Serene and quiet campground surrounded by the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge. You can rent cabins, full hook-up sites, or primitive tent sites. This campground has all the amenities you need for a great stay, including private bathhouses, laundry, a pool, picnic tables, and an array of recreational opportunities. And it’s only a short drive to Sandbridge. 
  • Virginia Beach KOA Holiday– Located at 1240 General Booth Boulevard in Virginia Beach, this campground is the furthest away. Still, it has all the fantastic amenities you would expect from a top-rated campground. It’s about a 15-minute drive to Sandbridge, located in the heart of Virginia Beach, close to everything. 
  • Indian Cove Resort– Located just 3 miles from Sandbridge Beach, Indian Cove Resort is a membership-only park with a whopping 365 RV sites, plus another ten tent sites. And if you come without a camper, you can rent one or enjoy one of the two rustic cabins.

Sandbridge Beach: The Best Beach in Virginia?

A fisherman fishing off the Sandbridge Beach Pier late in the day.
Fishing off the Sandbridge Pier lets you try to reel in a big one at Sandbridge Beach in Virginia.

Sandbridge Beach is my favorite beach in the mid-Atlantic area. I love how it has the relaxed vibe of the Outer Banks but is close to the excitement and energy of the Virginia Beach boardwalk.  

If you want a hassle-free, relaxing beach vacation within close proximity to everything the resort town of Virginia Beach has to offer, Sandbridge is the place for you. 

For a wealth of information on all the beaches in Virginia, read my guide to 36 Breathtaking Virginia Beaches. 

6 thoughts on “Sandbridge Beach In Virginia: A Best-Kept Secret”

  1. I wish I knew about Sandbridge Beach a few years ago when I visited Virginia. I did go to Virginia Beach and found it so crowded. I much prefer the smaller, quieter beaches such as this one. Saving for next time I’m in the area.

  2. Sandbridge does sound like a hidden gem! I think you described it perfectly – near everything a big city offers but still quiet and peaceful. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I’m definitely not a fan of crowds, so this sounds perfect! I’d love to go hiking/paddleboarding there + checking out the wildlife refuge would be awesome too!

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