5 Things to Do on Tangier Island in Virginia's Chesapeake Bay

Sunset at the Marina
Dennis Govoni / Getty Images

Tangier Island is often referred to as the 'soft shell crab capital of the world’ and is a unique place to visit. Located on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, Tangier is made up of many small islands divided by marshes and small tidal streams. It is located 12 miles off of the mainland and is only accessible by boat or airplane. The island is about 1 mile wide and 3 miles long and has about 700 residents, most of whom make their living by crabbing and oystering.

There are very limited amenities on Tangier Island: a few gift shops and restaurants, one hardware store, one small grocery store, and a handful of bed and breakfasts. There are only a few cars on the island and residents get around on golf carts, boats, mopeds, and bikes. The roads are only wide enough for two golf carts to pass each other. In the summertime, visitors arrive on the island by boat and spend the afternoon exploring Tangier and learning about the culture and lifestyle of this island community of watermen. During the summer, the following ferries and cruise ships come to the island each day, allowing passengers to explore and buy goods from the Islanders.

During your visit, there are many ways to explore the Tangier Island and learn more about its unique history.

Take a Watermen’s Tour

Learn about the soft shell crabbing industry with Denny Crockett, the owner of Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House. The licensed captain offers a variety of tours, such as crabbing, birding, sunset, and ecotours.

Visit the Tangier Island History Museum

This museum displays historic artifacts and provides an excellent overview of the island and its community. The museum doubles as the visitor center and admission is free.

Kayak Through the Trails of Tangier

The Tangier Island History Museum provides free kayaks and canoes from its dock. Visitors can explore the self-guided “water trails” around Tangier and surrounding marshes.

Feast on Fresh Seafood

Tangier Island is one of the best places on the Chesapeake Bay for fresh, local seafood, especially soft-shell crabs. You can find all-you-can-eat crab cakes at restaurants like Chesapeake House and other crab specialties Fisherman's Corner.

Take a Bicycle or Golf-Cart Tour

Local residents line up when the boats arrive each day to offer tours around the island. Bikes, kayaks, and golf carts are available to rent and it is also easy to just walk around the island.

Was this page helpful?