Please mind the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s latest announcement regarding area closure for bird nesting: The tip of the sand spit at Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve is closed to visitors until September 15 to allow the Least tern chicks ample time to fledge. (The rest of the beach is still open to visitors.)
Sand spit closed until September 15
On June 8, 2021, a steward of DCR’s Chesapeake Bay Region installed fencing and signs to restrict visitor access to a portion of the sand spit at Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve in Mathews County. It was reported that several pairs of rare Least terns are attempting to nest on the spit. Presence of humans and/or dogs cause least terns to leave their nests for extended periods of time, leaving their eggs and chicks exposed in the hot summer sun. Pets should be kept on a leash while at the preserve, and please keep clear of the fenced area during this time.
About Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve
This 105 acre preserve contains sandy shoreline, low dune, and salt marsh habitats. The habitat is regularly changing due to natural changes from wind and water patterns, storms and Chesapeake Bay currents. Over the course of a season, islands can be created and reabsorbed and different maritime landforms, like low overwash flats and shallow channels, appear and disappear. This area is known for rare marsh and colonial nesting birds as well as the globally rare northeastern beach tiger beetle (Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis) and a globally rare beach plant, sea-beach knotweed (Polygonum glaucum), are protected on the property according to dcr.virginia.gov
Visiting the Preserve
The Preserve is open to the public year round, yet some areas may be closed off for nesting season or protecting rare species and their habitats. Facilities are limited to a gravel parking area; there are no restrooms or trash receptacles so please plan your trip accordingly. Dogs must be on-leash while at the preserve. This beach is great for walking, sunset chasing, picnics, kitesurfing or paddling, and swimming. Water shoes recommended. Don’t forget, pack it in, pack it out, and leave no trace behind!