Website Shows People Where to Fish, Swim, and Play

The Takeaway: Providing public access information helps promote recreation and tourism, which fuels Virginia’s ocean economy.

A new website,, directs outdoor enthusiasts to 192 public fishing, swimming, and viewing spots, plus trails for hiking, boating, kayaking, and other activities throughout southeastern Virginia, including the western Tidewater area and the peninsula north to Williamsburg. Visitors can search sites by name, location, or type of access, and the website is accessible using mobile devices.

It fulfills the “outreach” part of a strategic plan for public waterway access produced by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. The agency’s goal was not simply to share this information, but also to identify which areas need more public access and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Plentiful public access helps fuel Virginia’s ocean economy. In 2014, the tourism and recreation sector in the five Hampton Roads counties combined brought in more than $285 million dollars in gross domestic product. However, public access is not evenly distributed throughout the region. The high-population areas of Elizabeth River, Lynnhaven River, and northern James River have relatively few public access sites, and the plan’s funding proposals are addressing some of these inequities.

Hampton Roads Planning District Commission produced and will add new information as it becomes available. The Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, aided by a NOAA grant, worked with the commission on the project.

More Information:

Partners: Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s Coastal Zone Management Program