Sand Dunes

​​​​​The primary physical factors that influence the shape and composition of beach and dune shorelines are waves and wind action.

Photo provided by Svetla TomanovaThe waves bring sand onto the beach and onshore winds push the sand inland. The dunes, the beach, and near-shore sandbars act as a dynamic, integrated system. Also, sand dunes and the vegetation that helps hold a dune together can provide substantial protection from storm erosion. Sandy beaches and dunes provide a natural buffer to coastal hazards, habitat for many estuarine species, as well as water quality services​ through water filtration, nutrient cycling, nutrient uptake, and water storage.


Photo provided by Svetla TomanovaSand dune systems can support an extremely diverse range of plants and animals and provide a habitat for a variety of specially adapted species. Although dune plants tolerate harsh beach conditions, they cannot withstand traffic, (pedestrian or vehicular), or development activities.

Planting dune vegetation does not require a permit; however, a permit may be required for other dune construction projects, such as dune walkways, vehicular ramps, removing vegetation, or moving any sand. ​Learn more about  the permitting requirements

​​​​​​​​​​​Did you know?

Virginia Beach is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest beach in the world. ​​​​​​​​

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