Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

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Despite its proximity to Virginia Beach, Back Bay is tucked in a primitive cove that feels far removed from civilization. The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a narrow ribbon of barrier islands just south of Virginia Beach that boasts over 8,000 acres of tidal marsh and maritime forest. Limited motorboat traffic and an abundance of marsh islands make Back Bay an ideal spot for flatwater paddling. Thousands of snow geese and ducks visit the refuge during peak fall migration season, and it’s also a sanctuary for other endangered species like the loggerhead sea turtle and peregrine falcon. Sea kayakers use the calm waters for extended day and overnight trips, putting in at the refuge and paddling along the coast south to the primitive oceanfront campsites at False Cape State Park (pictured here). Longer journeys out of the bay’s pocket can cross the state line for a visit of North Carolina’s Knotts Island or extend to the nearby Great Dismal Swamp.

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