Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

June 14, 2021

Virginia + Carolinas Beaches Travel Diary: Ones I've Visited + Ones To Visit

     T-minus less than a week until the official start of summer! Think about how different this summer is going to look from last year... it's just so exciting! I sure am hoping to spend a lot more time in a bathing suit in 2021 then I did in 2020. Part of that will hopefully be enjoying my apartment pool (which is open this year!!), and I am also hoping for some quality beach weekends. Virginia and the Carolinas are home to hundreds of miles of coastline and beaches. 


      Despite the fact that I grew up in a beach town in Maine, I feel like I still haven't spent a ton of time at beaches in the South! I have been lucky enough to visit a few over the years, but there's many more I still hope to visit someday. Today I wanted to share a round-up of the beaches in VA and the Carolinas that I have been to, as well as some that I hope to get the chance to visit this season or sometime in future years:



  • Mathews County - Mathews is a quiet but charming rural county on one of the peninsulas in Eastern Virginia. My friend Mercedes and I got an Airbnb and explored Mathews last July. A highlight of the trip for me was both of the Mathews beaches that we visited! These beaches are located on the Chesapeake Bay, so the water is very warm and there aren't many waves. Between the lovely beaches and the great restaurants in the area, I would definitely do another summer weekend trip to Mathews again. Read my Mathews Travel Guide here!
  • Virginia Beach (Boardwalk) - After three years of living in Virginia, I finally made it to visit the state's most well-known beach! My dad came down to visit and we stayed in a hotel right on the historic Boardwalk. The only thing was that we visited in March, so it was before the main tourism season! While there are some pros to visiting a tourist area like this in the off-season, I'd also like to see it someday when it is warmer out. Read my blog post "Is Virginia Beach Off-Season Worth it?" here!
To Visit:
  • Sandbridge - Sandbridge is still located in the Virginia Beach city limits, but it's a quieter and more residential part of the oceanfront as compared to the well-known Boardwalk area. All of my Virginia friends who have been to VB recommend visiting Sandbridge for a more quiet ocean experience! 
  • False Cape State Park - A state park with a lot of oceanfront just south of Sandbridge in Virginia Beach. The beach here looks very untamed and beautiful! There are also lots of trails to walk and explore within the state park. 
  • Cape Charles - I am just dying to visit Virginia's Eastern Shore!! Cape Charles looks like the most charming little Chesapeake Bay town. I don't think I'll be able to get out to this part of the state this summer... but hopefully in a future year!

Bethel Beach in Mathews, 2020

Virginia Beach, 2021



  • Ocean Isle - Despite living in North Carolina for five years, I've only ever been to one NC beach so far! It's Ocean Isle Beach, and I visited there nine (!!!) years ago. Wow- time flies! My dad and I came here for a few days for vacation after my freshman college orientation in July 2012. Ocean Isle is a very small island in the very southern part of NC- it's less then an hour away from the SC state line. The main way that people stay in Ocean Isle is in beach houses. My dad and I had stayed in a small hotel in Ocean Isle, but while researching this blog post I learned it closed a couple years ago, and I'm not sure if there's any newer hotels. One of my favorite bloggers, Caitlin from Southern Curls and Pearls, owns a beach condo there, and she has a great Ocean Isle guide on her blog!
To Visit:
  • Outer Banks - I think it's so crazy that I technically live closer to the Outer Banks now as a Virginia resident than I did when I lived in North Carolina, haha! Anyways, I still haven't been to this iconic stretch of NC beaches and I'm just dying to visit one of these years. I don't have a specific part of OBX in mind to go to- I know there are quite a few cute little areas to pick from.
  • Crystal Coast - Another region for NC beaches a bit further south from the Outer Banks. I feel like these beaches don't get as much hype as OBX, but to me they look equally beautiful and charming! I'd love to visit. 
  • Wilmington - I love coastal cities- it's the best of both worlds between beautiful beaches and the amenities and attractions of a larger place. I've heard only amazing things about Wilmington over the years from friends who love it, and I think I would too! I know the TV show One Tree Hill was filmed here- I still haven't watched that show yet but I think it would be fun to visit here after I saw the show. 

Ocean Isle Beach, 2012



  • Myrtle Beach - My favorite beach in the South that I've ever been to... and yes I'm being honest! Myrtle Beach can get a really bad reputation for being rowdy or a little tacky, but I think it's truly a great place. There are so many hotel and lodging options, and so much fun stuff to do from attractions to nightlife to shopping! I haven't been to Myrtle in awhile but I am hoping to make a trip back one of these years. For a fun walk down memory lane, read my blog post about celebrating my 21st birthday in Myrtle Beach here!
  • Folly Beach - This is the closest beach to the city of Charleston. I spent a few hours here after a wedding that I went to in Charleston in 2019. It's a darling little beach area and I wish I'd been able to do a full day! Driving through it looked like there were some fun restaurants in the area, and there are also a good mix of houses and beach hotels. Check out my Charleston Travel Diary here (which includes a bit about Folly!). 
  • Isle of Palms - I did a day trip here with my friend Caroline when I went to visit her in Columbia, SC last year. Columbia is only about two hours away from Charleston area beaches, and it was so fun to spend a day at Isle of Palms! It is a cute little island and really its own little town area separate from Charleston (about 30-40 mins away). The beach houses here were charming too. I have only been to both Folly and Isle of Palms once each and brief visits to both... I think between the two I liked Folly better, but I'm sure you can't go wrong with either!
To Visit:
  • Hunting Island State Park (Beaufort) - This state park looks  absolutely incredible! Hunting Island is a barrier island that's near the quaint coastal town of Beaufort. The beaches have stunning palmetto trees, and look so untouched and cool. 
  • Hilton Head - After Myrtle this is probably the second most touristy beach in the state. Hilton Head definitely looks a bit more refined and low-key than Myrtle. Everything looks lovely here- from the beach itself to the hotels and resorts to the restaurants!
  • Kiawah - Another beach that is near the Charleston area. I know this is a popular vacation spot with friends whose families are from the South. One of my good friends and her husband recently got a beach house here, so I'm hoping at some point to visit and be able to see Kiawah with them!

Myrtle Beach, 2015

Folly Beach, 2019

Isle of Palms, 2020

     What are your favorite beaches in Virginia and the Carolinas? Any I didn't list here that I need to visit? I should also add that I'm dying to visit some beaches in other parts of the South too. Can you believe I've never been to a single beach in Florida?! That needs to change at some point!

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 



  1. Hilton Head is amazing! My husband and I honeymooned there. It's such a cute little beach town!

  2. We are headed to the Outerbanks in a few weeks, this year were staying in Corolla I have previously stayed in Nags Head. There are 20 of us in one GIANT house and I'mpretty pumped


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