This week in The Beach Report, local walking tour guide Katherine Jackson shares her experience walking in a very unique beach community, Sandbridge.
Solitude at Sandbridge
In an introduction to the book From the Beach to the Bay: An Illustrated History of Sandbridge, Virginia Beach City Councilwoman Barbara Henley wrote, “Sandbridge is a very special place. Some of my fondest memories from childhood were the trips to Sandbridge, which then was simply the expanse of sand, dunes, and ocean where the road abruptly ended by the old fish house. The car would be parked just at the side of the road – not far off enough to get stuck – and the family would walk over the dunes to the ocean. There might be another group or two on the beach, but chances would be good that not another soul would be around.” Nowadays, things have changed, and Sandbridge is a thriving resort community with many year-round residents and viable restaurants and businesses. Grand vacation homes and quaint beach cottages line the fifteen-mile beach that extends from Dam Neck Naval Air Station at the north to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge at the south. In the summer, Sandbridge is a lively family beach, a place to go for water sports and people watching. However, in the winter, the pace slows down, there’s an off-season feel to the place, and it’s still possible to find deserted stretches of beach.
Photo courtesy of Katherine Jackson
Aerial view of Sandbridge courtesy of City of Virginia Beach
I recently took a walk at Sandbridge and enjoyed exactly the kind of solitude I sought. Although a grey sky and a chilly wind blowing off the ocean probably kept some people indoors, I was plenty warm with an extra layer of clothing, a hat, gloves and a brisk pace. I don’t have much to report about the walk, but that was the beauty of it: just me and the beach, the thump of the waves, and the kaleidoscopic cloud-filled sky. A pod of pelicans flew by, and as the waves receded, shorebirds pecked at the sand to find morsels of food. It was a picture-perfect windswept beach, with the intense beauty that winter days bring. I did see one or two other walkers, but for the most part, during the winter months, Sandbridge delivers as much solitude and peaceful enjoyment as a walker could want. Another benefit of a winter visit to Sandbridge is that parking is easy and free at two municipal parking lots, one across from the fire station at the main intersection, and the other at Little Island Park about four miles south. In previous posts on the ShoreLines Blog, I recommended other great places to walk along Virginia Beach’s 35-mile coastline: Croatan Beach, The North End, False Cape State Park, the Boardwalk, and Cape Henry Beach. Each is beautiful in its own way, but I concur with Councilwoman Henley’s assessment: Sandbridge is special.