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Luxury Travel

Get to know Virginia Beach

This is a feature from Issue 21 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.

What's it all about?

Sweeping along North America’s East Coast for a dazzling 35 miles, Virginia Beach’s wide buttery sands and seaside-y vibe is the epitome of the all-American beach resort. Often considered the birthplace of the United States as we know it, the first Europeans landed at Cape Henry in 1607 before scuttling over to Jamestown to settle. In its blessed position, where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, it’s as popular with dolphins and humpback whales as it is with surfers and spring breakers who all flock to its shores for its sunny beach vibes.

Under the Boardwalk

A salt-tinged seaside resort at heart, Virginia Beach Boardwalk is the cotton candy-scented heart of the city. Built in 1888, the three-mile-long boardwalk is now home to a raft of pastel-hued ocean hotels, seafood diners and buzzy beach bars. King Neptune, a 24ft high bronze statue, commands the ocean from the boardwalk, which is alive with music, street theatre and artists all summer. Cycling, rollerblading and leisurely strolling are the main forms of ambulation, although vintage trolleys run along Atlantic Avenue and the Bay
between May and September.

Beach Blanket Babylon

As blissfully blonde beaches lapped by a consistent surf are the main draw to VB, it’s important to enjoy the ocean responsibly, so ditch the jet skis and speedboats and opt for paddle power instead. Dolphins adore the waters around Virginia Beach and are frequently spotted close to the coast during dawn and dusk. Head to First Landing State Park and the Rudee Inlet and hop on a guided kayaking or stand-up paddle-boarding dolphin-watching tour. Come winter, the Chesapeake Bay becomes a playground for juvenile humpback whales who flock for the fish.

Epicurean East Coast

Ice cream and saltwater taffy aside, Virginia Beach is all about sparklingly fresh seafood. A bastion of farm-to-table and tide-to-table dining, restaurants like Commune and Catch 31 are all about local, sustainably sourced produce. Virginia Aquarium’s Marine Science Centre leads VB’s Sensible Seafood Programme, which promotes ocean-friendly seafood and encourages choosing locally caught varieties such as striped bass, flounder and sea trout.

Where there's grit there's gold

Virginia Beach has a unique approach to managing waste – turn it into a leisure park. Mount Trashmore is an excellent example of landfill reuse. Made from compacted layers of solid waste and topped with clean soil and turf, this huge man-made mountain with walking trails, a skate park and a fishing lake has become a symbol of environmental awareness and is one of Virginia Beach’s biggest attractions.

Stretching for nearly 18 miles, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel connects Virginia Beach with the Eastern Shore and is considered one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World

Walk on the wild side

Aside from its seemingly endless sands and navy ocean, Virginia Beach runs the full gamut of coastal dunes, maritime forests and wetlands, all of which are a haven for the finned and feathered. There are numerous conservation programmes in place to protect local wildlife and their habitats, and one of the best is Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Situated southeast of the city, its diverse ecosystems, including marshland and forest, attract such birds as American bald eagles, piping plovers and peregrine falcons.

And another thing... Lynnhaven oysters

Also called America’s First Oyster, the plump, saliferous molluscs were a favourite of Queen Victoria, who named them Lynnhaven Fancies.

Captain Chris Ludford offers boat tours of his Pleasure House Oyster Farm, where you can pluck and eat the freshest Lynnhaven Fancies wth your toes in the water

Such is the love for these little molluscs, they even have a dedicated trail. The Virginia Oyster Trail includes a map of farm tours and tastings, to ‘merroir-terroir’ dining experiences, which pair oysters with home-grown regional produce.

Ready to visit Virginia Beach?

Speak to our team of expert travel agents to plan your perfect break, and remember, you can donate 5% of your holiday price to the charity of your choice at no extra cost to you! 

This is a feature from Issue 21 of Charitable Traveller.