Tangier Island is one of two inhabited off-shore islands (not connected by causeway) located in the Chesapeake Bay. Located in Virginia, Tangier Island is about 14 miles off the coast of Crisfield and has about 500 inhabitants, most making a living off the Bay by crabbing in the summer and oystering in the winter.
Most of the families on the island are descendants of the colonial families that settled there in the late seventeenth century. The culture is thick. Tangier Island is one of the few places one can travel in the Mid Atlantic region where authentic cultural heritage is still being lived … not just remembered.
Tourism has recently become a thriving industry on the island and is run primarily by women who live on the island. In the summer three tour boats leaving from Crisfield MD, Onancock VA, and Reedville VA bring hundreds of tourist each day to the island. Island locals operate golf cart tours showing visitors around the island, giving information about Tangier history, lifestyle, education, and economy.
The boat ride is a big part of the visit to Tangier Island. We leave from Crisfield on the Steven Thomas.
The kids love having the opportunity to ride on the boat, meet other families and look out over the water for the ride that lasts nearly an hour.
Once on the island, there are options to walk, explore the island by bike or golf cart, eat and shop. We always do the golf cart tour first, I love having a native take us as opposed self-guiding. It sets the tone for the entire experience. We have the golf cart driver drop us at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House for Eastern Shore food served family style. The meal consists of crab balls, ham, corn pudding, green beans, potato salad ice tea and a slice of pound cake for dessert. We stroll the streets and shop after eating, ending at Spanky’s for ice cream.
The approach into Tangier Island is remarkable. The harbor is lined with shanties and workboats – indications that this is a community of working watermen. The marshes spread out in all directions and clusters of one and two-story houses are clumped in the middle beneath the water tower.
The waterfowl are abundant. During the approach to the island dock, we saw twenty different species of birds…pelicans, herons, gulls, cormorants. The scenery is worth the price of the boat ride. This is a wonderful day trip for people of all ages.
The mail boat goes out to Tangier every day and will take passengers for a fee. There are B&Bs on the island for those who care to stay overnight. Starting May 15th, the Steven Thomas will make trips out to Tangier daily. Cost is $25 per person (round trip). Children under 7 are free. Contact Tangier Island Cruises for more information.
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