Vacation at Chincoteague, VA

Looking for a getaway that is unique and unforgettable? Many visitors consider Chincoteague island to be one of the East Coast's top 5 beach vacation spots. This tiny Virginia land mass is only 7 miles long and less than 2 miles wide, and it is the state's only resort island.

The town is nestled on the west side of the coastal barrier island. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean this little paradise is very close to Maryland's southern coast. Chincoteague was derived from the original name "Gingo Teague" given by its Native American inhabitants. The translation means "a beautiful land across water".

Prefer a secluded environment? There are only two main streets which guarantee a minimum of traffic at any given time. But there's a lot going on in Chincotague!

Along with a neat variety of lodging choices, the quaint - and sometimes quirky - local shops and restaurants on the island give everyone a wonderful taste of island living.

The town of Chincoteague, VA has long been known for its fishing industry. Today many of the east coast's commercial fishermen continue to dock and transport the day’s catch at this small island. The result? Local residents, restaurants and seafood retailers are able to choose the finest and freshest crabs, shrimp, oysters and fish.

Chincoteague Virginia Fishingboats

Chincoteague and Assateague Island Life

The Assateague Island National Seashore is divided into two regions. The northern section is only accessible from the state of Maryland. This region is a nature lover's dream with plenty of hiking trails, and perfect for kayaking and canoe trips.

The family friendly beaches of the National Seashore are only a scant 3 miles from the gates of the National Wildlife Refuge. This is also a great area if you want to just enjoy the day exploring a stretch of beach that offers almost complete privacy. There are bikes, towels, umbrellas and chairs available for rental.

The southern section of Assateague Island National Seashore is readily accessible by visitors who are staying at Chincoteague. This is where you will find the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. This animal refuge is the home for a wonderful population of wild ponies and native birds. During your stay you can sign up for one of the guided wildlife safaris that the rangers provide.

Chincoteague Island Map

Where to Stay at Chincoteague? B & Bs, Hotels and Vacation Rentals

Lodging options can be found to suit every type of personal taste and budget. Bed and Breakfast establishments are very popular. One elegant choice is the Channel Bass Inn that provides guests with afternoon teas, exquisitely appointed rooms and a lovely Japanese Garden to explore.

The Refuge Inn is another B&B that has been featured in the pages of Southern Living magazine. In addition to comfortable rooms and hospitable hosts, it provides guests with easy access to all major attractions including both the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Wallops Island Space Flight Center.

For those who want to experience a more natural setting, check out Tom's Cove Campground. There are 900 individual campsites available and the campground extends over 75 acres of land.

You may want to look at some of the other lodging options available. The island also features apartments, economically priced chain hotels and luxurious private Chincoteague vacation rentals on the beach or in quiet parts of town.

Special Events and Happenings

Every year visitors look forward to the last week in July. This is when the annual Pony Penning Carnival will take place.

Chincoteague Island Pony Roundup ~ Virginia

The wildlife officials herd the wild ponies living on Assateague Island and direct them on a swim through the ocean channel. The ponies arrive at Chincoteague Memorial Park where they are sold at public auction to good homes

This yearly pony trek through the waters of the Atlantic Ocean is an amazing sight that you will never forget. If you visit in April there is still a chance for you to witness the spring Pony Roundup where the animals are herded into a corral to receive their check-ups and shots.

Watch the Chincoteague Island, Virginia Pony Roundup...

Chincoteague's annual Oyster Festival occurs in October, and this seafood delicacy becomes the main attraction. All you can eat oysters and much more!

Second Saturday Art Strolls is an activity that takes place each month. There is plenty of artistic talent in Chincoteague - and the island galleries and shops open with all sorts of activities including craft demonstrations, music and wine tasting. This takes place along the main street and is well-attended by residents and tourists alike.

Places to Eat

Eating is never a problem when you visit Chincoteague. You'll find all types of food from fast food burgers and pizzas to finer dining. Needless to say, fresh seafood dishes are an area specialty. Fish, fresh crab and shrimp are always available at most of the local restaurants.

You can choose from places such as the Seashell Café (acclaimed by Travel & Leisure magazine) and the Village Restaurant (none-too-fancy but excellent fresh seafood). Many tourists opt for the "all you can eat" crab and shrimp specials offered at Steamers. After a meal you can always visit Island Creamery Ice Cream and treat yourself to a delicious frozen treat.

More Fun Stuff

In addition to exploring the beach and Wildlife Refuge, there are lots of fun things to do, including water sports such as charter fishing expeditions, nature cruises, speedboats and jet-ski adventures.

If you prefer to keep your feet on firm ground you can still keep busy and have a lot of fun. You might want to play a round of miniature golf; ride on the bumper boats, go for a picnic.

If you wander along the main section of the town you can browse through a number of local Chincoteague, VA shops. The Flying Fish offers a wonderful selection of native arts and crafts, and there are also some very interesting antique stores.

Before you leave, stop by for some homemade saltwater taffy from a little shop called (you guessed it...) Pony Tails!