Pedaling Through Paradise

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Photos & words by John Streit.

When most think of the word “paradise,” images of palm trees and white sand beaches come to mind. While that’s a scene all of us can appreciate, I’m here to challenge the notion that paradise can’t be found right here in and around Sandbridge — especially during the summer season. Our beaches are top-notch in their own right; and the recreational opportunities the Atlantic Ocean, Back Bay and False Cape State Park offer stand up next to anything you can find in the tropics. All it requires to view our rugged outbacks in this way is a minor change of perspective and an appreciation for the natural beauty our coastal environment puts on display. There’s arguably no better way to experience these diverse landscapes than striking out on one of our False Cape Bike Tours! We start on the pavement out of Little Island Park and make our way into Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the tightly-packed gravel trails perfect for a simple beach cruiser. Waterfowl empoundments, high dune ridges, the open waters of Back Bay and the expansive sky mesmerize the rider as the journey reaches the gates of False Cape State Park surprisingly fast, though 5-plus miles have already been covered. It’s easy to lose track of time when the scenery reveals wildlife such as river otters, bald eagles, deer, turtles and a wide variety of shorebirds and migratory waterfowl. The scene then shifts to maritime forest and the pine groves of the higher dune elevations. A hop over the dune reveals the vast Atlantic Ocean to the east and the dunes and forest to the west. We even offer a coastal cruise option with our fat-tire sand bike tours! Put your foot to the pedal and discover our slice of paradise!

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Sandbridge Paddle Fest & Expedition: 9/26/15

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We’re beyond stoked to announce our most ambitious project to date: our adoption of the Sandbridge Paddle Fest and the addition of the Surf & Adventure Expedition and festival site at Little Island Park on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015!

The inaugural Sandbridge Paddle Fest was held in 2013 with a very strong community and competitor response. Since then, adventure races have exploded with popularity, and there’s no better natural setup to host such an event than the south end of Sandbridge Beach. Little Island Park offers ample parking and exposition space, broad, sandy beaches, paddling opportunities at and the perfect launch point into gorgeous scenery for cycling through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park.

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The spirit of the Sandbridge Paddle Fest & Expedition arises from our passion for the outdoors and a commitment to promoting healthy, active lifestyles, as well as supporting the conservation efforts of the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. False Cape State Park is one of the last remaining undeveloped areas along the Atlantic coast. As the former home of Native Americans, the historic Wash Woods community and a Coast Guard lifesaving station, False Cape honors the hardy souls who made a living from the sea.  In order to truly experience the nature and history of this unique and primitive setting, participants in the Surf and Adventure Expedition will stop at designated checkpoints throughout the parks before returning to Little Island Park.

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The funds raised by the Sandbridge Paddle Fest & Expedition will support the Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that exists to support Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation by raising funds, accepting gifts and providing other resources to enhance existing programs, services, facilities and technology.

This event will feature the following activities:

  • Sandbridge Paddle Fest: 2-mile Stand Up Paddleboard course and 2-mile beach run with obstacles\
  • Surf and Adventure Expedition: 2-mile Stand Up Paddleboard course, 2-mile beach run, and Expedition bike ride through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. This event will be limited to 80 participants in order to control the number of people accessing the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park.
  • Kid’s Expedition: Short beach run with obstacles fun for kids under 12 years of age.
  • Expo area

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All events will be centered around Little Island Park, which will also offer food, beverages, community vendors, local businesses, demonstrations to include kayaking, surfing, and stand up paddleboarding, yoga sessions, and more.

We’re proud to be the presenting sponsor of this sure-to-become signature event for the Sandbridge community for years to come! Click this or the other links in this article = to sign up for the Sandbridge Paddle Fest & Expedition at http://surfandadventurerace.com.

False Cape Bike Tours

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Words & photos by John Streit.

Aside from being one of Virginia’s most diverse and beautiful natural areas, False Cape State Park is also the commonwealth’s most remote. Unlike nearby First Landing State Park — which offers awesome recreational opportunities in its own right — there is no parking lot access to False Cape. While that certainly limits the amount of activity the park experiences, it is also the source of the park’s allure — it’s an uncrowded, undeveloped, pristine and remote adventureland!

Thanks to our False Cape Bike Tours, Surf & Adventure/Ocean Rentals has opened the door to experience the rolling dunes, marsh flats, maritime forests, beaches and tributaries of Back Bay and False Cape! Outside of hiking, biking is the only and most efficient way to access False Cape State Park with tightly-packed gravel trails extending from Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge’s visitor center to the North Carolina/Virginia state line. Our tours offer two ways to experience False Cape: via the interior trails on beach cruisers or on the sand with our fat-tire bikes! These photos show the landscape of the interior trails from an early summer tour. Click the link to learn more about these unique, awe-inspiring tours and to book yours today!

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False Cape Bike & Surf Trip Scenes

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Words, photos and video produced by John Streit. Filmed by Les Frankel & Streit.

False Cape State Park is the kind of place where the usual travel or nature buzz words like “breathtaking” are used to describe it, but inevitably fall short of actually summarizing its majesty. No matter how many times I have made the trek from Sandbridge to Virginia’s southernmost state park, I always return with a renewed sense of awe and appreciation for this incredible stretch of natural beaches, high dunes, maritime forest and marsh flats. All of those ecosystems were on display under sunny skies and warm temperatures for our 2015 False Cape Bike & Surf Trip, which took 15 stoked participants from Little Island Park to False Cape’s Barbour Hill and back with a four-plus-hour surf session in between for good measure.

This trip also serves as a preview for our False Cape Retreats, which return for three special runnings this summer starting on Saturday, June 20 followed by Saturdays July 11 and August 22. We are also offering False Cape Bike Tours which offers participants the option of biking the interior trails or on the sand with our fleet of fat-tire sand bikes!

Until then, enjoy the video and photos capturing the action from another classic Bike & Surf Trip!

 

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Real Fun in False Cape

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Photos by Robbie Hickman. Words by John Streit.

Though the surf didn’t match up with the perfect beach day, our co-ed False Cape Retreat on July 12 went off without a hitch! Small-but-rideable surf was on-tap and standup paddleboarding was the best way to take advantage. We were stoked that a big crew from the Wahine Surf Club ventured down to enjoy the unique beach adventure. As always, lunch was catered on-site by Back Bay Gourmet, and the experience was enhance by the participant’s choice of a yoga and/or massage session.

Click here to book your adventure to the undeveloped, isolated East Coast paradise today!

Enjoy the photo gallery of some real fun in False Cape courtesy of local photographer Robbie Hickman.

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Retreat to False Cape

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Photos by Shaun Devine. Words by John Streit.

For so many reasons, False Cape State Park is one of our favorite places on Earth — we’re just blessed to have it be in our backyard!

We return for another co-ed False Cape Retreat this Saturday with conditions very similar to those seen in these photos from a trip we took earlier this summer. With 1- to 2-foot surf and offshore winds predicted for Virginia Beach, it’s almost certain that the swell’s size will be boosted by the exposure and natural sandbars of False Cape. Surfing is only one part of the adventure — the trip to beach offers some of the most breath-taking vistas possible in our region as we cruise through the dunes, marsh and forest of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the state park on the famous Blue Goose Express tram. Enhance your experience with a massage and a yoga session before eating a delicious catered lunch from Back Bay Gourmet!

It’s still not too late to register for the trip (if you are reading this on Thursday, July 10 and before 5 p.m. on Friday, July 11). Sign up online at Ocean Rentals Ltd.’s site: https://oceanrentalsltd.com/tours-adventures/false-cape-adventures/ or give us a call at (757) 721-6210. If you missed the deadline for this weekend’s trip, we’ll be headed back for an all-womens retreat on Saturday, July 26 followed by weekday trip on Thursday, Aug. 7.

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