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Experiences for Water Lovers in Virginia

RICHMOND Va. - Virginia is an East Coast destination hugged by the Atlantic Ocean and is also home to the largest estuary in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay. Add in the abundance of whitewater rapids, pristine lakes and coastal rivers, and it's easy to see why Virginia is a prime watersports destination. Below are highlights of experiences on the water in Virginia, with many more at www.Virginia.org\outdoors.

Scenic Floating: Virginia's rivers offer many spots for paddling, tubing, rafting and more.

  • Family-friendly Whitewater: The Clinch River flows through the scenic gorges of Southwest Virginia. From calm stretches to class III rapids, the paddler's paradise offers amazing mountain views for canoers, kayakers and anglers.

  • Tubing: The scenic James River is a popular tubing spot as it courses through the wooded foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. James River Reeling and Rafting and James River Runners in Scottsville offer tubing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting and fishing excursions for individuals and groups, day or overnight along the James.

  • SUP Tours: Stand Up Paddle (SUP) is the combination of canoeing, kayaking and surfing. Using a canoe-like paddle and standing atop a stable and balanced long board, paddlers propel themselves through the water with smooth alternating strokes. In Richmond, Black Dog Paddle offers a variety of SUP tours of inland waterways. Southwest Virginia's Tangent Outfitters also offers SUP tours on the New River.  
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  • The Canoe Capital: Front Royal has been designated as the "Canoe Capital of Virginia." Several outfitters in Front Royal offer trips on the Shenandoah River.

  • Extreme Whitewater: Adventurous whitewater enthusiasts should experience the wild class V+ whitewater on the Russell Fork River at Breaks Interstate Park. The Russel Fork season is limited to weekends in October, when water is released from the John Flannagan Dam and Reservoir. 

Virginia's Coastal Pleasures: Virginia's beaches, the Eastern Shore, the Chesapeake Bay and coastal rivers in Hampton Roads offer endless opportunities for water sports lovers.

  • America's Largest Estuary: Sea kayakers and casual canoers love to explore the calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay - America's largest estuary. The bay and its tributaries take paddlers to the shores of small fishing towns and quaint tidal villages, past lighthouses and coastal wildlife. Get acquainted with the bay on the Mathews Blueways Water Trail, a 90-mile trail with 18 launch sites for easy access to coastal beauty.

  • Eastern Shore Splendor: Paddling enthusiasts will love will love the Eastern Shore's Virginia Seaside Water Trail. The 100-mile trail is a series of day use paddling routes that run between the Virginia National Wildlife Refuge at Cape Charles and Chincoteague Island. With 37 accessible routes ready for boaters of all abilities, the trail also includes additional segments that move through Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and connect to Assateague National Seashore and the Assateague Canoe Trail.

  • Kayak with Dolphins: Kayak Nature Tour's Dolphin Adventure in Virginia Beach allows kayakers to paddle among leaping dolphins. Departing from the north end of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, paddlers follow the coast to a favorite dolphin playground where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. 

  • SUP Surfing in Virginia Beach: Coastal SUP Tours in Virginia Beach offers personalized Stand-up Paddle Board experiences. Beginners can take a relaxing tour of First Landing State Park, or tour the Bay/Ocean and watch the dolphins as they migrate on their daily feeding routines around Cape Henry Point. More experienced riders can participate in one-on-one SUP surf lessons.

  • Kiteboarding on Virginia's Eastern Shore: SouthEast Expeditions Kiteboarding School inCape Charles Virginia is the only full service kiteboarding center in Virginia. This is an ideal spot to learn, with flat, shallow water and consistent side shore breezes. Kiteboarder magazine calls this place "the best-kept secret on the East Coast."

  • Eco-tours of Virginia's Eastern Shore with Marine Science Consortium: Folks interested in learning more about the ecosystem of the beaches, marshes, bays, maritime forests, and off-shore waters of Virginia's Eastern Shore should check out the educational programs offered by the  Marine Science Consortium

  • Wakeboarding and Surfing: Tula Adventure Sports in Virginia Beach provides rentals, tours, lessons and gear sales in wakeboarding, waterskiing, kiteboarding and more.  

Virginia Lakeside Fun: Virginia's lakes are prime spots for both non-motorized and motorized watersports fun. Virginia's lakes also offer some of the best fishing in the state.

  • Lake Anna offers 200 miles of rural shoreline in Central Virginia. Popular activities include boating, sailing, water skiing, wake boarding and jet skiing. Lake Anna is also considered one of the best lakes to fish for largemouth bass on the eastern seaboard.

  • Watersports and more: Sherando Lake Recreation Area is an idyllic 24-acre lake surrounded by the George Washington National Forest, which is known for hiking and mountain biking.

  • Jewel of the Blue Ridge: Smith Mountain Lake is a lake destination near the Blue Ridge Mountains with more than 500 miles of scenic shoreline. Boat rentals are easy to find in the 20,000-acre lake's surrounding towns and recreation areas.

  • Virginia's largest lake: In Clarksville, visit Buggs Island Lake, Virginia's largest lake, with more than 50,000 acres of fresh water to explore. Buggs Island Lake is listed as the number one Crappie fishing lake in the U.S. by "In-Fisherman" magazine. Another great spot is Lake Gaston, a scenic 20,000-acre lake in South Hill, has 34 miles of shoreline and an abundance of opportunities for kayaking, fishing, boating and swimming.

  • Scubadiving: Lake Rawlings is a privately-owned scuba and camping park located in Rawlings, Brunswick County, in south central Virginia. It is open to the public and features very clear lake water for scuba diving and snorkeling. Underwater finds include the sailboat shell used in the underwater scene of the Warner Brothers movie, "The Replacements," a Nomad 22 airplane at 60', two school busses (one at 30') and more.  

Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation.  Go to www.Virginia.org\outdoors  or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free copy of the 2013 Virginia is for Lovers travel guide.  Stay connected with Virginia on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/VirginiaisforLovers or on Twitter at @VisitVirginia.

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