Chincoteague Island, Virginia, is a great place visit some interesting shops, take pony rides, do some fishing and just plain relax. The island also is the gateway to Assateague Island, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the soft sands of the Assateague Island National Seashore and the stately Assateague Lighthouse.
Finding a place to stay on Chincoteague is easy; there are plenty of places to choose from, ranging from chains like the Hampton Inn & Suites and Best Western to rental homes (try Harbour Rentals to private motels like the Refuge Inn, where we stayed). Surprisingly (and happily), the island is rarely crowded with tourists, even in peak season.
In mid-June, our comfortable room for two cost just $75 per night, and the motel is perhaps half a mile from Assateague Island. Just about every motel on the island offers free wireless Internet access, so it’s easy to stay in touch if you really must.
I must mention the food; in our experience, it’s impossible to have a bad meal here. We tried several places, including The Village, Don’s Seafood Restaurant, Etta’s Channel Side Restaurant and A.J.’s on the Creek – all were wonderful. Crab cakes are a specialty here, and they’re well worth the cost – mostly lump crab meat with just enough filler to hold the whole thing together.
If you want a water’s-eye view of Chincoteague and Assateague, you’ll want to charter a boat, perhaps an evening cruise. You might try Chintogeague Cruises or our favorite, Daisey’s Dockside Pontoon Cruises. It’s a pretty good bet that on the latter, you’ll be accompanied by Captain Tom Daisey’s adorable dog, Bailey.
If you prefer, you can rent a canoe or kayak; bicycles and colorful little drive-it-yourself carts can be rented by landlubbers.
When you’re not exploring the wildlife refuge or on a boat, you’ll find plenty of things to do in the town of Chincoteague. You might hitch a ride at the Chincoteague Pony Centre, visit the Oyster & Maritime or Refuge Waterfowl museums, an art gallery or two or just browse around in the unique downtown shops. Don’t miss a stop at a Pony Tails store for some Pony Tails saltwater taffy; the stores were started by the now elderly father of our charter boat captain, Tom Daisey (and yes, the taffy is delicious)!