Sun, surf and fishing is just some of what Virginia's coast has to offer. — Photo courtesy of JeffreyGreenberg, Courtesy Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors BureauFar fewer visitors go to remote Sandbridge than near-by Virginia Beach and even less so in fall. Although it has no hotels, Sandbridge offers ocean-view rental homes on the shoreline. On Currituck Banks Peninsula, to the east, is the Atlantic Ocean; to the west lies the Back Bay. To the south, dunes, beach woodland, freshwater marshes, maritime forests and ocean beaches entice visitors to the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, as well as False Cape State Park.
Assateague Island, Maryland
Wild horses that roam the beaches, descendants of horses brought to the island in the 1600s. — Photo courtesy of Courtesy Maryland Office of TourismNamed the Native American word that translates to “A Running Stream Between”, this 37-mile-long island straddles the Maryland-Virginia border. To commune with nature, maybe you’ll camp, hike, bike or canoe on the island or just stroll its white sand beaches. Maybe you’ll find the wild horses that roam the beaches, descendants of horses brought to the island in the 1600s. Tip: Don’t feed ‘em. They can kick and bite.
Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Carolina Beach on a sunny afternoon — Photo courtesy of chucka_nc North Carolina’s oldest beach, Carolina Beach is a known for its boardwalk and deep-sea, surf and pier fishing. If you have a dog, bring it. Starting October 1, Freeman Park, at the north end of the beach, invites you to let your pooch off-leash. For a break from the peace and quiet, go find Buddy Guy at the Pleasure Island Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival October 12-13.
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Not far from Carolina Beach, Kure Beach offers a natural setting and small-town atmosphere. Its relaxed pace will allow you to unplug and reconnect while they enjoy an undeveloped beach and perhaps a trip to Fort Fisher State Historic Site and the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Sea View Inn on Pawleys Island — Photo courtesy of Palmetto Cheese Named for George Pawley, who during colonial times owned it, Pawleys Island’s uncrowded beaches and vibe exudes calm. For fun, check out the dunes for nesting Loggerhead Sea Turtles laying their eggs there from early May to late October. Be on the look out for the Gray Man, the friendly ghost known for protecting resident’s homes and warning of impending hurricanes.
Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Fishing and golf attract some visitors to this barrier island once called Long Island, but for you perhaps it’s sunning on the beach. Later consider a short drive to Charleston for historic landmarks and the South Carolina Aquarium, known for its two-story Great Ocean Tank, home to more than 450 critters, including sharks, pufferfish and a loggerhead sea turtle that weighs over 220 pounds.
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Only moderately developed, St. Simons Island’s natural areas inspire bird-watching, hiking, biking, fishing and crabbing. Dolphins sightings are not uncommon, as well as a variety of sea birds and sea turtles along the beaches. Steeped in history, you can learn more about the islands at St. Simons Lighthouse, Fort Federica National Monument and other sites. Other fun might include cruising the island's pricey neighborhoods and checking out its mansions. Faulkner might come to mind as you spy streets lined with moss-draped oaks.
Tybee Island, Georgia
Deep sea fishing is just one of the things to do at Tybee Island. — Photo courtesy of Courtesy Tybee Island Tourism CouncilSwim, collect shells, surf and kayak off this barrier island’s beaches, but be on the lookout for the endangered sea turtles, who return yearly to lay eggs early May to late October. If your hike or bike ride needs a destination, consider the historic, but still operational, Tybee Island Light Station and the Fort Screven Historic District. Near Savannah, Georgia’s most eastern point inspired celebs Sandra Bullock and John Mellencamp to buy homes here. They weren’t available for comment.
Amelia Island, Florida
Amelia Island's Fernadina Beach. — Photo courtesy of Courtesy Amelia Island Tourist Development Council Amelia Island should inspire the explorer in you. Thirteen miles long and two miles wide, the island is edged with natural quartz beaches and 40-foot sand dunes. Go fishing to land red bass, trout, flounder, tarpon and more. Kayak to encounter herons, sea turtles, and manatees. Your inner history geek will appreciate Fort Clinch State Park, one of the better-preserved 19th century forts in the country. Your music-loving side will want to go to the island’s September blues festival and October’s jazz festival.