There was a time when "watersports" would have seemed an oxymoron. Either you made your living on the water -- fishing, whaling, commercial shipping -- or you played games on dry land. That, of course, was back when ladies had to wear bloomer-ish "bathing suits" and swimming pretty much consisted of walking into the surf and back out. But these days, the resorts are fully hydro-powered, and rollered and bladed and handicapped. Yes, and baited, too. And you don't even need to bring your own equipment; there are rentals to spare.
"The boardwalk" is almost a joke in Dewey Beach, where boards are for surfing, skating, boogieing and kiteboarding, a fusion of wind surfing, skateboarding and parasailing with only wind power; get instructions and gear at East of Maui (104 Saint Louis St.; 302-227-4703).
Fenwick Islanders know the water, and you can, too. Take up parasailing, wave-running and pontooning (don't drink and drive) at Shark's Cove (off Route 54 one mile west of Coastal Highway; 302-436-8500 or 866-436-8500); kayaking and sailing at Coastal Kayak in Fenwick Island State Park (Coastal Highway bayside; 302-539-7999); or surfing at Surf Sessions Surf Camp (10 S. Carolina Ave.; 302-539-2126).
Ocean City could almost balance its budget on the fishing charters that tie up at the piers along both sides of the bay, not to mention the dozen golf courses, but golf and fishing are mainstays of your parents' OC. These days, Ocean City has become a younger sports freak's paradise, with stuff for tots and teens and even tweens. What's the best treatment for sunshine burnout? A turn on the ice at the Carousel Hotel's year-round ice rink (117th Street and Coastal Highway; 410-524-1000). Or a flying leap, from the Ocean City Skydiving Center (Ocean City airport off Route 611/Stephen Decatur Road; 410-213-1319). Or a headfirst slide: The Class A Delmarva Shorebirds allow kids to take to the field at Perdue Stadium for a "home run" after every Sunday home game (Routes 13 and 50; 410-219-3112). And bikers who want to get off the beaten path can try out the 100-mile Viewtrail 100 bike trail, a loop of Worcester County that starts in Berlin (410-632-3110 or 800-852-0335) and takes in a lot of small towns and old-style nature scenery from forest to cypress swamp.
Crabbing and clamming are among Chincoteague Island's most famous pastimes, and its two primary commercial roads -- Main Street and Maddox Boulevard, the route visitors take from the mainland toward Assateague -- are lined with boat rentals and bait-and-tackle shops, along with bikes to take you to the water in old-fashioned style.
There are various public and private golf courses in Virginia Beach, as well as the semi-private Signature at West Neck (3100 Arnold Palmer Dr.; 757-721-2900), an Arnold Palmer-designed course. For those who prefer to stay closer to the water, Undersea Adventures (757-481-3688) offers a variety of boat trips, including dolphin and "ocean discovery" cruises and scuba diving expeditions. Those who yearn to "step into liquid" should plan to visit Virginia Beach from Aug. 25 through 29; that's when the 42nd annual East Coast Surfing Championships (www.surfecsc.com) will be held on the oceanfront.