State of the Beach/State Reports/VA/Surfing Areas

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Virginia Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access65
Water Quality77
Beach Erosion4-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill6-
Shoreline Structures6 2
Beach Ecology4-
Surfing Areas58
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}

Inventory and Perception of Status

There are 14 surfing areas in Virginia, with half of them located in Virginia Beach.

There are restrictions on surfing in Virginia Beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day. These regulations prohibit surfing during certain hours (generally late morning to late afternoon on specified days of the week) at several different beaches.

In general the condition of these surfing areas and beaches is good to fair, but erosion is the biggest problem. Virginia Beach is a heavily developed area, and beach fill is necessary and occurs every winter. Sandbridge Beach in the southern end of the City is threatened the most by erosion.

Surfrider's Virginia Beach Chapter reports that there are access issues in a beach community known as Croatan. Croatan is one of the five designated surfing areas in the City of Virginia Beach, and arguably one of the best and most crowded surf breaks. Croatan boasts an excellent surfing area and works best during nor'easters because the Rudee Inlet jetty offers protection from the strong northerly currents and provides long wrap-around lefts. During south swells, the reflecting wave off of the south breakwater creates a fun wedge where barrels are not uncommon. Croatan is only accessible by one road and parking is very limited; however, there are five public access points along the beach. Modern plats do not indicate private ownership of the beach at Croatan and it is considered a public beach. However, the Croatan community has had occasional problems with improper behavior by surfers. As a result, parking was removed in many streets close to the shoreline in 2002, but the City was able to convince the State to open the 300-space Camp Pendleton parking lot year round, except during shooting exercises, and remove the daily parking fee. Access to Croatan Beach will likely continue to be an issue for the Virginia Beach Chapter.

In the past, there has been consideration of constructing a spur at the end of the north jetty at Rudee Inlet (original proposal from Rudee Inlet Study). If such a structure was built, it would be right on top of the "first peak" (one of the best breaks in the Mid-Atlantic and home of the East Coast Surfing Championships). Instead, an extension or other modification of the north jetty is being considered. See here.

Recognition by State

Virginia does not recognize surfing as an economic, cultural, and recreational resource. They generally do not take surfing into consideration during coastal planning.

In contrast, the city of Virginia Beach is very aware of surfers, and recognizes surfing as a valuable recreational resource. They take surfing into consideration during coastal planning. The community recreational department sponsors surfing lessons every summer, and the city is working with surfers to try to expand surfing areas, as long as the surfers abide by the rules and regulations set by the city. Surfing areas in Virginia Beach are identified in the April 2002 Beach Management Plan.

Surfrider Foundation Chapters

DC Chapter38° 53' 42.40" N, 77° 2' 10.92" W
Virginia Beach Chapter36° 51' 2.16" N, 75° 58' 40.44" W

<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>DC Chapter<html></legend></html> DC Chapter Website

The DC Chapter represents residents from the greater Washington DC area, including western Maryland and Virginia. It naturally draws coastal transplants who have found themselves landlocked, as well as river-, bay-, and snow-oriented natives. Because of their location amidst lawmakers, the chapter's efforts include legislative agendas as well as river/bay clean-ups and public education. Most importantly, they realize that despite physically being hours from the nearest beach, their actions locally can significantly affect the health of the coast, the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, the Chesapeake Bay, and the rest of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed!

You can contact the DC Chapter via email at


<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Virginia Beach Chapter<html></legend></html> Virginia Beach Chapter Website

Latest Posts on the Virginia Beach Chapter Blog:

The Virginia Beach Chapter recently celebrated two big victories. First, the chapter worked to successfully defeat legislation that would have allowed gas and oil exploration off their coast. The drilling bill, sponsored by Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, would have ordered the state’s lobbyists to work with the congressional delegation and federal agencies to lift a 22-year-old federal ban on offshore gas and oil exploration or drilling on both the east and west coasts. The Virginia measure received little attention during the legislature’s six- week session, partly because the bill never went through either House or Senate environmental committees. The bill originally called for lobbying efforts to lift the moratorium just on natural gas surveying off the state’s coastline. After it cleared the Senate, however, Wagner had it amended in a House committee to take the measure a step further— to permit surveying, exploration and drilling for natural gas, without specifically prohibiting oil drilling. The Virginia Beach Chapter immediately took action with the creation of a letter writing campaign, co-sponsorship of a radio PSA and participation in media events. These efforts helped lead to Governor Mark R. Warner vetoing the bill, which was the only bill Warner vetoed out of the hundreds sent to his desk during this year’s General Assembly session. “It was a last-minute-get- the-word-out-fast type of thing,” said Virginia Beach chapter chair Ari Lawrence. “Apparently it worked. We applaud the Governor's decision.”

The other victory is creation and approval of a Surfrider Foundation Virginia license plate. The chapter led a grassroots effort by identifying a state delegate to carry the bill to the General Assemmbly and achieving the goal of 350 prepaid applications and/or $3500 worth of fees within 180 days of the approval date.

Other chapter activities:

  • In conjunction with area students and the City of Virginia Beach, chapter activists organized a major storm-drain stenciling event to mark 2,000 storm drains in one day.
  • The VB chapter has joined together with the local E.S.A, Christian Surfers, and Surfing Access For Everyone (S.A.F.E.) to form the VB Surfing Partnership. The partnership meets quarterly to discuss local issues and works together to promote a positive surfing atmosphere throughout the local surfing community. The partnership has proven quite influential when working together and approaching city officials about surfing issues.
    • The partnership has already helped change local surfing rules and regulations and has also provided the method for which the surfing zones are designated in Croatan.
    • The partnership seeks to change Croatan and other popular public beach access parking hours such that parking is allowed from sunrise to sunset versus only during specific daylight hours.
    • This summer the partnership will join together to develop and promote a positive awareness campaign, which aims to remind all beach users to have fun and be respectful of others, the ocean, and the surf.
  • The chapter plans to hold another Youth Day Event. Last year's event was a huge success. The event provides children the opportunity to learn first hand the effects of littering on and around the beach. The event was sponsored by Wave Riding Vehicles and Whalebone Surf Shop. The children participated in a huge beach cleanup and competed to find the largest, smallest, strangest, and most amount of trash. All of the participants received prizes from the sponsors, had a ton of fun, and learned valuable lessons.

Check out the Virginia Beach Chapter blog at

You can contact the Virginia Beach Chapter via email at


Surfrider Staff Contact

John Weber
Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager

Also check out Surfrider Mid-Atlantic Region's website for Surfrider news from New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C.

Information Sources

The summary of surfing areas comes from Surfer Magazine's The Surf Report issues for the state. Surfrider Foundation chapters were surveyed to establish surfing conditions in the state.

Additional on-line information sources for surfing in Virginia include:

State of the Beach Report: Virginia
Virginia Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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