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.
Blue pins are Western Shore beaches.  Green pins are Eastern Shore beaches. 

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Bay Front Park

Chesapeake Beach, MD

This is a small hidden gem of a beach just outside the Chesapeake Beach town limits. No facilities, but dogs are allowed on a leash


Betterton Beach

Betterton Beach, MD

Once a beach resort, now a small town with 300 feet of swimming beach on the Sassafras River where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Full facilities.


Breezy Point Beach

5300 Breezy Point Road, Chesapeake Beach, MD 20732

A wide, half-mile long, sandy beach with full facilities, lifeguards and parking next to the beach


Calvert Cliffs State Park

9500 H. G. Trueman Road, Lusby, Maryland

A small, sandy swimming beach down a 1.8 mile trail through woods known for ancient sharks teeth & other fossils; dogs allowed


Downs Park

8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena, MD 21122

A beautiful view of the Chesapeake Bay with large picnic area. The only beach is for dogs & kayaking; no swimming allowed


Elk Neck State Park

4395 Turkey Point Rd, North East, MD 21901​

A 2,188 acre park with sandy beaches overlooking the North East River, the Elk River and the Chesapeake Bay. Full facilities. No lifeguards.


Elms Beach

19350 Back Door Road, Lexington Park, MD 20653

A St. Mary's County beach with limited facilities. No lifeguards. Picnic tables & grills available. (review pending)


Flag Ponds Nature Park

1525 Flag Ponds Parkway, Lusby, MD 20657

A huge sandy swimming beach on a peninsula, known for sharks teeth & other fossils that wash up. Great for families. Dogs are allowed on leashes.


Greenwell State Park

25420 Rosedale Manor Lane, Hollywood MD 20636

A 596-acre park on the Patuxent River. Swimming is permitted on the beach area. No lifeguard on duty. (review pending)


Gunpowder Falls State Park

7200 Graces Quarters, Chase, MD 21027

1,500 fee of beach and swimming area on the Gunpowder River's entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. Full facilities & lifeguards.


Hart-Miller Island

Hart-Miller Island, MD

This beach is on a 1,100-acre island and can only be reached by boat. It's on the western shore. (review pending)


Matapeake Park

305 Marine Academy, Stevensville, MD 21666

Small, but scenic, Kent Island swimming beach with a view of the Bay Bridge; full facilities


Miami Beach Park

4001 Bay Drive, Bowleys Quarters, MD 21220

Overlooks the Chesapeake Bay, but no swimming allowed. The state is working to restore the shoreline. (review pending)


Myrtle Point Park

24050 Patuxent Blvd., California, MD 20619

This is a "passive natural park." That means you must walk in. It has nearly 2 miles of shoreline, including a beach area. No lifeguards. Portable restrooms. It does have picnic tables and grills. (review pending)


North Beach

8916 Chesapeake Avenue, North Beach, MD 20714

A small beach town with a four-block boardwalk, with a swimming beach, fishing pier, play ground and a funnel cakes stand. A traditional ocean-side type beach.


Oxford Beaches

100 Morris Street, Oxford MD 21654

Two small town beaches without any facilities for out-of-town visitors, but with great water and sunset views


Point Lookout State Park

11175 Point Lookout Road, Scotland, MD 20687

A beach on the peninsula between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, with a wide shady picnic area. It's one of the most popular beaches and picnic spots fill early.


Rock Hall

Rock Hall, MD

A small town swimming beach with great sunsets & view of Baltimore at night


Rocky Point Beach

2200 Rocky Point Road,Essex, Maryland 21221

300 foot beach with a picnic area and several shaded groves, playgrounds, sand volleyball and sailing center. Full facilities. (review pending)


Sandy Point State Park

1100 East College Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21409

A huge sandy swimming beach near the Bay Bridge in Annapolis. Full facilities & large parking lots.


Tangier Beach

16799 Hog Ridge Rd, Tangier, VA 23440

A beautiful beach with off-white sand & clear blue-green water on Tangier Island


Terrapin Park

91Log Canoe Circle, Cross Island Trail, Stevensville, MD 21666

A natural Kent Island swimming beach that requires a short hike but has a great view of the Bay Bridge; limited facilities


Wellington Beach

116 A Lorie Quinn Drive, Crisfield, Maryland 21817

A small community beach in Crisfield, MD, with amazing sunsets


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