Beaches are great places for people to socialize. Splashing around with friends and family in the water is so much fun on a hot day. Playing some good music and building a little bonfire will get a party started quickly. Girls in bikinis, dudes in Speedos; the beach is the place to be! This is the scene from the small public beaches on the Northern Neck all the way down to the Outer Banks.
Before you head out with your suntan lotion and boogie board, I would like you to consider looking at beaches in another light. In the morning, the Atlantic and Chesapeake shorelines exhibit a wonderful array of colors as the sun is rising. A few clouds mixed in with the sand and waves further define how small you are as a person as compared to the timeless expanses before you. Even at the resort area of Virginia Beach, the simple majesty of the morning cannot be brought in the most well stocked gift shop. Yet, it is available to anyone who will awaken and embrace it.
While the night owls are still in bed, the first beach residents take advantage of the solitude and feed along the surf. Not just gulls. But, a variety of sandpiper species, other shore birds, and different types of small crabs enjoy the relative lack of a human presence in the AM. Perhaps as you are reading your favorite book or magazine to the sounds of waves and bird calls, you will too.
Behind every impressive beach there is probably an equally impressive wetland. While the beach at Sandbridge is gorgeous, there are two other areas south of the beach that ought not be overlooked. The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park are teaming with wildlife and have access to the broad, freshwater Back Bay as well as the Atlantic Ocean. These areas don’t lend themselves to beach parties due to their rules and remote locations. But, the park and refuge are among the few places in the state where one can really experience the land the way native Americans and early colonist did.
Enjoy your beach vacations this summer. But, plan to visit the other side to fully appreciate what beaches have to offer.