Visiting Virginia's Tangier Island

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 three Bed and Breakfasts.

There are few cars on the island. 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.

Things to Do

  • Take a watermen’s tour - Learn about the soft shell crabbing industry - Denny Crockett, the owner of Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House, is a licensed captain who offers a variety of tours, such as crabbing, birding, sunset, and ecotours.
  • Visit the Tangier Island History Museum - The museum displays historic artifacts and provides an excellent overview of the island and its community. The museum doubles as the visitor center. Admission is free.
  • Kayak through the trails of Tangier – The Tangier Island History Museum provides free kayaks and canoes from its dock so 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.
  • Take a bicycle or golf-cart tour – Local residents line up when the boats arrive each day to offer tours around the island. Bikes are available to rent and it is also easy to just walk around the island.

Getting There

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.
From Crisfield, MD
Steven Thomas Ferry – Seasonal - (800)-863-2338
Sharon Kay III – Year Round – (757) 891-2440
From Onancock, VA
Joyce Marie II – Seasonal – (757) 891-2505
The Bay Eagle – Year Round, By Reservations Only – (410) 968-2545
From Reedville, VA
Chesapeake Breeze – Seasonal – (804) 453-BOAT (2628)

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