Chesapeake Bay Beaches

The Chesapeake Bay has an amazing range of beaches, from natural-and-woodsy to boardwalk-and-funnel cakes. There are beaches just for dogs; beaches with volleyball nets for the sportier set; and beaches you get to only by boat… we call those ‘secret beaches.’

Chesapeake Bay Beach Sand

The color of several Chesapeake Bay beaches really is orange. Actually, sand colors run from deep orange to nearly white. It all depends on the minerals in the area rocks.

The Sandy Point beach has the deepest orange and that’s not pollution. It comes from rock that high in iron. The sand is colorful, not dangerous. Tilghman Island has the whitest sand, meaning the grains have a lot of quartz in it.

Quarts rocks are easier to find on the Eastern Shore than the Western Shore. Virginia beaches in the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay tend to have a lot of quartz, but some is stained a deep yellow-orange by iron.

Chesapeake Bay Beach Water

The Chesapeake Bay is like a giant reservoir with lots of rivers constantly pouring fresh water into it. But at the same time, the Ocean is pushing salty water in with the tide. That turns the Bay briny. That ebb and flow changes the type of fish you’ll see, how clear the water is and the debris in the water.

The Bay will seem dirtiest after major rain. The rivers wash mud and debris into the center, the water get denser and fish go deeper to get away from it. Oysters and clams get to work cleaning it up.

After rainfall of 1/2 inch or more, all Anne Arundel County beaches are under a no swimming/no direct water contact advisory for at least 48 hours due to predicted elevated bacteria levels from rainwater runoff and increased health risks. Do not swim in cloudy, murky water.

The water will be most clear at beaches with the least churning of water. But don’t stress too much. State authorities all around the Bay are constantly checking for pollution and take immediate action if there’s a problem.

And rinse off when you’re done swimming.
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