Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Images from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region
Explore Virginia Beach’s Barrier Islands at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
When you think about spending the day outdoors in Virginia Beach, your mind immediately goes to the sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Along with the beach, there are several other ways to have some fun in the great outdoors. Among the many things to do in Virginia Beach, a must-do is spending a day at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
About Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established on June 6, 1938 as a refuge for migratory birds. The 4,589-acre area is located at the southern end of Virginia Beach, near Sandbridge Beach and Little Island Park. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired the land in the 1980s and the refuge has grown to over 9,250 acres to protect a number of wildlife habitats.
Back Bay NWR is a thin strip of barrier islands on Virginia’s coastline. The area is home to habitats, including beach, dunes, woodlands, agricultural fields and freshwater marshes. Wildlife, such as waterfowl, swans, loggerhead sea turtles, bald eagles and more, call the refuge home. It is not uncommon to find threatened and endangered species here.
Things to Do at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Back Bay NWR has over eight miles of scenic trails perfect for self-exploration or guided programming. The refuge’s expansive area is perfect for observing the area’s wildlife from a safe distance. Spotting scopes are located throughout the refuge to get a closer look at distant wildlife.
Small boats and canoes that can be hand-carried to the bay’s edge, including kayaks and paddleboards, are permitted. There are no launch points for larger boats at the refuge.
Anglers can experience Back Bay NWR’s freshwater and surf fishing with a valid Virginia fishing license. The Seaside and Dune trails provide access to the beach for surf fishing, while freshwater fishing is available off the docks. Back Bay NWR also offers a night surf fishing program during October that provides access to the beach until midnight.
Back Bay NWR offers guests an array of interpretive and educational programming, as well as special events. Learn more about the history and natural surroundings from the refuge’s knowledgeable staff.
More Information about Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located at 4005 Sandpiper Road, Virginia Beach.
For more information about Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, visit FWS.gov
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge’s outdoor facilities are open year-round from dusk to dawn.