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Virginia Beach offers a wonderful variety of watersports, starting, of course, with its fine-sand beach for swimming. But note that between Memorial Day and Labor Day, no ball playing, fishing, or other sports are allowed on the beach between 2nd Street and 42nd Street from 10am to 5pm.

Biking, Jogging & Skating

You can walk, jog, or run on the Boardwalk, or bike and skate on its adjoining bike path. There are biking and hiking trails in First Landing State Park (which rents bikes) and in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

You can rent wheels from early March to October from Cherie's Bicycle & Blade Rental (tel. 757/437-8888) and Bonnie's Beach Bikes (tel. 757/460-9051), which have stations every couple of blocks along the Boardwalk. Rentals start at $6 an hour, $59 a week.

Fishing

Deep-sea fishing aboard a party boat can be an exciting day's entertainment for novices and dedicated fishermen alike. Headquarters for both party and private charter boats is the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 200 Winston-Salem Ave. (tel. 757/422-5700; www.virginiafishing.com), on Rudee Inlet. Make reservations at the center at least a day in advance.

You can also drop a line from the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier, between 14th and 15th streets, oceanfront (tel. 757/428-2333), open April through October. It has bait for sale and rods for rent. On the Chesapeake Bay, Lynnhaven Inlet Fishing Pier, Starfish Road off Shore Drive (tel. 757/481-7071), open 24 hours a day in summer, rents rods and reels and sells crab cages.

Golf

Next to Williamsburg, Virginia Beach offers more golf holes per capita than any other Virginia destination. Sand, water, and wind make up for the area's flat terrain to provide plenty of challenges at the Virginia Beach National Golf Club (tel. 877/484-3872 or 757/563-9440; www.vbnational.com), designed by Pete Dye and Curtis Strange and formerly known as the Tournament Players Club of Virginia Beach.

Elevated tees and strategically placed water and bunkers pose problems at Heron Ridge Golf Club (tel. 757/426-3800; www.heronridge.com), designed by Fred Couples and Gene Bates. Sharp fairway angles at the Rees Jones-designed Hell's Point Golf Course (tel. 757/721-3400; www.hellspoint.com) have been described as both "devilish" and "Satanic." Another Rees Jones project, Honey Bee Golf Course (tel. 757/471-2768) is shorter (par 70) but presents challenges for beginners and experts alike. The city has several public links, including Red Wing Lake Municipal Golf Course (tel. 757/437-4845; www.vbgov.com/dept/parks).

Call the courses for greens fees, tee times, and directions.

Good Golf Packages -- You don't have to be Tiger Woods to take advantage of golf packages organized by Virginia Beach Golf Getaways (tel. 866/482-4653; www.vbgolf.com). Check the website or ask the visitor center for a copy of its annual golf guide.

Kayaking

Even if you've never settled your stern into a kayak, you're sure to enjoy a paddling excursion in this area's quiet backwaters or a dolphin-watching adventure on the high seas. As the popularity of kayaking has increased, so has the number of operators here. The local convention and visitor bureau publishes a "Virginia Beach Adventure Getaways" brochure listing all of them and some hotels that have outdoor packages.

Kayak Nature Tours (tel. 888/669-8368 or 757/480-1999; www.tidewateradventures.com) has been around the longest and is still one of the best. It has 2 1/2-hour dolphin-watching trips from May through October. The guides also lead tours of the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and to other nearby locations. Tour prices range from $50 to $110, with a 25% discount for children accompanied by an adult. Reservations are required.

If Kayak Adventures doesn't have space, contact Wild River Outfitters (tel. 877/431-8566 or 757/431-8566; www.wildriveroutfitters.com), Back Bay Getaways (tel. 757/721-4484; www.backbaygetaways.com), or Ocean Rentals Ltd. (tel. 800/695-4212 or 757/721-6210; www.oceanrentalsltd.com). The latter two are in Sandbridge and specialize in touring the nearby Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Scuba Diving

The Atlantic Ocean off Virginia Beach is colder and less clear than it is below Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, but that's not to say you can't dive here. Lynnhaven Dive Center (tel. 757/481-7949; www.ldcscuba.com) sends its two dive boats out to more than 20 nearby wrecks and other sites year-round, and it has trips to warmer waters in North Carolina. It also teaches diving and rents equipment.

Surfing

Unlike the huge breakers on the north shore of Oahu, the waves here usually are gentle enough during summer for novices to learn to stay up on a surfboard -- and probably not break a leg in the process (don't sue me if you do!). If you've never been on a board and would like to test your balance, take a 2-hour lesson from Ocean Rentals Ltd. (tel. 800/695-4212 or 757/721-6210; www.oceanrentalsltd.com) in Sandbridge for $45 per person. Reservations are required.

Swimming

During the summer season, lifeguards are on duty along the resort strip from 2nd to 42nd streets; they also handle raft, umbrella, and beach-chair rentals. Despite their presence, you should always be careful when swimming in the surf, particularly if a northeast wind is kicking up a dangerous undertow. When in doubt, ask the lifeguard.

You can get away from the summer crowds -- and the lifeguards -- by driving 12 miles south of Rudee Inlet to Little Island City Park, in the residential beach area of Sandbridge. To really escape the crowds, take the tram from there to False Cape State Park.

Wave Running & Parasailing

You can go parasailing and rent exciting WaveRunners from Rudee Inlet Jet Ski Rentals next to the Virginia Beach Fishing Center at Rudee Inlet (tel. 757/428-4614; www.beachparasail.com).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.