While you can’t experience a tropical getaway in Virginia, a visit to these breathtaking islands might do just the trick. Whether it’s a pristine island in the Northern Neck, or one found in the heart of a city, you’ll enjoy the feeling of being somewhere a little different. Islands offer a unique perspective of the state and remind us about the key role that water has played in our past and present. Rare species and industries alike have depended on our state’s proximity to water, and these islands stand as testament. With summer just around the corner, these islands will be calling your name.
1. Chincoteague Island
Welcome to "America's Happiest Coastal Seaside Town." The Island was awarded this name by Coastal Living Magazine due to its charming way of life. The island is found off of the Eastern Shore and just a bridge away from Assateague. There are countless activities to engage in here, especially those involving the wildlife. The National Park Service and Refuge offer programs led by rangers so that visitors can learn about the undeveloped wilderness refuge.
2. Assateague Island
Assateague Island is a barrier island made up of pristine beaches, bay waters, and forests. Visiting may feels like you've arrived in a dreamland, especially when you factor in the wild Chincoteague ponies. Each year the ponies migrate over to the other island in one of the most popular events in the area. These ponies live harmoniously with the other wildlife, including rare migratory birds. Visitors can learn more about the wildlife through guided tours. Other activities include lighthouse tours, hiking, and water activities.
3. Fisherman Island
Fisherman Island is the southernmost barrier island and marks the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. The island is a refuge for wildlife such as waterfowl and nesting waterbirds. The condition of some of these species is so rare, in fact, that the island is typically closed off to the public. The refuge can only be toured on certain Saturdays from October - March.
4. Brown's Island
Brown's Island Park is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Richmond's downtown. The James River acts as an urban waterway, and the small island is the perfect viewing point. The Island is named for Elijah Brown, who was the island's first settler in 1826. Today, the island is used for many gatherings and events. One of the most popular of these is Friday Cheers, a series of summer concerts that takes place on the island.
5. Tangier Island
Known as the "soft crab capital of the nation," Tangier is an isolated island located 12 miles out from the Chesapeake Bay. There are no bridges to Tangier, and it can only be reached by air or water. The locals are quite fond of the slower pace of living there, and most traffic is foot, bicycle, and golf cart. The freshly-caught seafood makes for exquisite dining. There's also a Tangier Island museum which elaborates upon the unique island's local history.
6. Gwynn's Island
Gwynn's Island can be found in the northeastern portion of Mathew's County, just south of the mouth of the Piankatank River. A simple swing bridge connects the island to the rest of the county. The Gwynn's Island Museum is a 25-year-old community project that preserves the history of the island. Some of the museum's contents include prehistoric fossils, colonial artifacts, antique quilts, and historic Marine displays.
Which of these Virginia islands are you hoping to visit in the near future? Let us know!