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The Great Outdoors

Natural Wonders In And Around Colonial Beach


A Different Kind of Beach

The beach in Colonial Beach is unusual.  It is the second longest beach in Virginia, but that’s only one of the things that make it special.  Breakwaters create a graceful scalloped effect of multiple separate pools along the shore.   It’s a beach made for today’s tastes and lifestyle.  For one thing, many portions of the beach are shaded so it’s popular for people who don’t want too much sun exposure.  The waters are placid; its waves are ripples not white caps so it’s easy to swim there or play with small children at water’s edge.  No sharks have been reported for years, but you might get a thrill spotting pods of bottlenose dolphins weaving up and down in the water.  And the beach is generally not crowded so you can maintain safe distance, especially on weekdays.  And, of course, you also get to enjoy the show the ospreys put on diving into the water or fighting competitors for their fish.

(Note: as with all freshwater swimming it is advisable to shower afterwards and you may encounter a jelly fish now and then but it’s far enough away from the bay that this isn’t a regular occurrence.)

Marinas and Water Sports   

Its waters also make Colonial Beach a welcoming harbor for boats of all varieties.  There are nine marinas to accommodate big boats and small.  Some long-terms renters make their home on them.  Others boaters come back to the same marina year after year.  Together they build a sense of community like that found throughout Colonial Beach.


A lot of effort is put into providing a full range of amenities at the marinas.  At the Boat House Marina, for instance, owner Bill Bowman welcomes long term rentals, but also has numerous transient slips and makes a captains’ lounge, bathrooms, and showers available 24-7.  His marina also offers floating piers and a picnic area. Boaters can also shop in what Bowman calls “the largest marine store on the Northern Neck.” To check them out visit

The Nightingale Marina affords boaters a chance to regain their land legs.  It has fully equipped motel rooms and a beautifully landscaped area for picnicking and relaxing while taking in the sunset over Monroe Bay. The Swinks who operate the Nightingale are major contributors to community life in Colonial Beach.  For years Jan Swink has led creation of a winter wonderland in the center of town.  Her husband Bob’s real estate office, Colonial Beach Realty, houses one of the largest collections of Colonial Beach memorabilia to be found anywhere in town short of the museum.  Call (804) 224-7956 for more information.

The Colonial Beach Yacht Center

The Colonial Beach Yacht Center is located at the tip of “The Point” where the river and bay meet.  It has several claims to fame including “The Otter House,” a “tiny house” Airbnb located atop a pontoon boat docked there.  On the grounds is one of the town’s top seafood restaurants, Dockside.  It also offers live music in the cooler seasons at an indoor bar area, and its outdoor Tiki Bar attracts top regional bands and appreciative fans.  Learn more at

Other marinas include Parker’s Marina, Monroe Bay and Winkie Doodle Marina, the Ice House Marina, and Bayside Marina.  More information is available on all of the marinas through the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce at

Kayaking, canoeing, and jet skiing are also popular in Colonial Beach.  Rentals are available at many of the marinas and at the Ferry Landing Pier on the beachfront.

The Great Outdoors – Birdwatching Sites Nearby


Caledon State Park is just 17 miles from Colonial Beach.  A National Natural Landmark known for its old growth forest and summer home to many American bald eagles, Caledon attracts bird watchers of all ages. Trails, including Boyd's Hole Trail, which leads to the Potomac River, are open year-round. A visitor center with bald eagle exhibits, four picnic areas, a picnic shelter and restrooms also are available.  Their eagle, owl and other nature walks are very popular.   Visit their website for more information HERE about when the park will fully open and start the nature walks again.

Westmoreland State Park, this large park and campground is 15 miles south of Colonial Beach, right next to Stratford Hall.  According to their website and from local birdwatchers’ personal experience, you can spot “American bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, great blue herons, common terns, green herons and gulls” there as well as wintering waterfowl.  Ancient shark teeth can be found along the Potomac River shorelines and the park boasts multiple hiking trails.  Learn more about the park on their website HERE.


Discover more about birds and bird watching at this link from Virginia State Parks:

VISIT THE NORTHERN NECK TOURISM COMMISSION WEBSITE to discover more natural areas for bird watching and historic sites to visit within Virginia’s scenic Northern Neck at: