Last weekend Kay and I went to Assateague Island, a 37 mile barrier island off the coast of Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia). Two thirds of the island is in Maryland while the lower third is in Virginia. It is best known for its pristine beaches and wild horses that roam the island. Legend has it that the feral Chincoteague Ponies are the descendants of survivors of the Spanish ship that sank on its way to Spain in 1750. Per Wikipedia though, “the likelihood is that they are actually descended from domesticated stock, brought to the island by Eastern Shore farmers in the 17th century to avoid fencing requirements and taxation”.
From the research we did, it seems like most people that come for an extended stay grab a hotel in Chincoteague Bay, a small town on the Virginia side, or camp on the island.
Kay and I drove down from New York and arrived at Assateague Island National Seashore in the early afternoon. We spent a few hours visiting the North Beach and as a few clouds rolled over decided to go for a hike. We started out on the Life of the Dunes trail but quickly veered off path to see some horses. We found several types of birds, deer, two carcasses of rabbits, and unfortunately brought back at least four ticks with us.
After the hike the sun came out again so we visited to South Beach for another couple of hours before heading to our hotel in Chincoteague. The beaches were clean, spacious, and had beautiful sea shells spread throughout it.
The town on Chincoteague is very small. The population during the 2010 census was 2,941. We get the impression that the town is choosing to not expand and open up more for tourists. (Unless it has been doing so recently, and slowly.) Although it is great for a long weekend, we couldn’t picture spending a full week there. Or at least we could, but we would probably pick other places over Chincoteague to spend a full week at. They have a decent, albeit small selection of restaurants, two miniature golf courses, and two ice cream shops. (Possibly three but the third one was closed.) For dinner we visited Bill’s Seafood Restaurant and Village Restaurant, both which were great. Bill’s had an amazing soft shell crab special that weekend. The only downside was that despite having reservations for 8:30pm, we had to wait till 9:10 to be seated.
After dinner we went back to the hotel for a late night dip in the hot-tub. The following day we visited the beach in Chincoteague. We preferred the Assateague Beaches in Maryland better for the sole reason that there is more space which made it seem less crowded. We also didn’t see any horses while on the Virginia side of the island.
On Sunday, our last day there, we visited the North Beach at Assateague one last time and got some really close up shots of the horses. They were actually roaming the parking lot as we tried to park. As our stay went on they continued grazing near the bathrooms and even by the brush between the asphalt and beach.
Overall it was a really nice trip and I would recommend anyone who is looking to spend a few days on the coast of Maryland or Virginia to check this island out. You can check out an album of pictures here.
Here are two videos of the horses roaming the parking lot at Assateague Beach: