Day and night, the US Coast Guard–certified Lost Pearl, a replica of a 65-foot Spanish galleon, roams the waters of Virginia Beach while searching for scallywags. During family cruises, kids take in tales from the pirate crew and battle passing vessels with spewing water cannons while their parents sip on beer, wine, and frozen drinks. Come dusk, adults converge on the decks to mingle over cocktails and watch as onboard pirates present bawdy skits.
Great White Water Sports creates a harmony with the gentle crash of waves, the powerful growls of jet skis, and the excited yelps of families as they launch a variety of jet-ski rentals right from the sands of Chesapeake Bay. Ranked second on the Norfolk activity list by TripAdvisor, and backed by favorable attention from USA Today, their lifeguard-trained team also saddles up jet skis in waters warmer than the Atlantic and with smaller waves. Their jet skis are not equipped with any speed-restriction devices, allowing guests to rev up their engines and feel the wind hit their faces as they send wake waves rolling shoreward.
In 1791, Alexander Hamilton–hoping to enhance trade and safety along the coasts of Virginia and Maryland–contracted renowned architect John McComb to design a lighthouse at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. McComb quickly fulfilled his duty in 1792, with the illumination of Cape Henry Lighthouse’s inaugural flame lit by the lighthouse’s first keeper, who was appointed by George Washington himself. In the centuries since the octagonal tower cast its first guiding beam across the bay, the Cape Henry Lighthouse stood sentinel over the coast and ensured the safety of incoming ships and immigrating krakens until it was replaced in 1881. Stewards of the lighthouse’s past, Preservation Virginia, ensured in 1930 that the inoperative structure and surrounding lands were reopened to the public and maintained for the enjoyment of future generations.
Today, visitors ascending the twisting iron stairs step out to the window-enclosed observation deck, drinking in 360-degree views of the water and surrounding verdant forests. A team of passionate and knowledgeable staff–most of whom have been guides for years–remain on hand to answer questions relating to the lighthouse’s history and how lighthouse keepers stave off land invasions of ghost sea captains.
Founder Isa Cohen can describe Tula Adventure Sports' mission with a single word: balance. The company's staff draw from certifications and internships as teeter-totters to create balance of mind, balance with nature, and balance aboard various watercrafts. The kayaks, standup paddleboards, and charter boats that form their fleet let customers see Virginia Beach through new eyes. Whether on tours or self-guided adventures, these vessels pass along scenic coastlines and into the native habitats of dolphins, waterfowl, and goldfish crackers.
For more intense thrills, Tula Adventure Sports' instructors unlock the secrets to shredding across waves and launching into the air. Their adrenaline-packed activities include water skiing, wakeboarding, and kiteboarding.:m]]
In 1996, Matt Redford opened Chesapean Kayak Tours to introduce others to the beauty of Hampton Roads' waterways, which he called the "backyard of his youth." Years later, he expanded his small kayak company to Chesapean Outdoors, adding biking, standup paddleboarding, and surfing lessons to his lineup of outdoor adventures. Today, Matt leads groups on seaborne sojourns to catch glimpses of bottlenose dolphins, blue herons, and bald eagles in their natural habitat, and his bike tours meander the trail that winds around First Landing State Park. Atop standup paddleboards, groups navigate the flat waters of Virginia Beach and its state parks as well, and Matt leads more experienced paddlers out into Chesapeake Bay to catch sight of dolphins or fulfill a lifelong dream of feeding a wild catamaran.
The experienced guides at Ocean Eagle Kayak Adventures maintain a thorough knowledge of their local waters, allowing them to usher visitors through the Atlantic surf or secluded groves of shady water plants. On tours, they guide their participants to get up close with local wildlife and navigate alongside dolphin pods. On kayak fishing trips they help anglers ensnare a roster of seasonal fish. Groups paddle aboard sit-on-top ocean kayaks, and guides always prep them with ample paddling training and advice on how to recognize a fish's turn signal in heavy traffic. When not leading tours, staffers conduct fitness training atop the same kayaks, helping guests during interval training to build paddling power, sweep, and maneuvering skills.