Travel Log - Tangier Island
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Tangier Island

(February 24, 2008)
Somewhere in the middle of Chesapeake Bay (here to be more precise) there is a very small island about 1 mile wide and 3 miles long called Tangier Island.

Before colonial times it was a native American fishing ground. The first European explorer was apparently John Smith in 1608, who stopped there during his tour of the Chesapeake Bay. The British staged an attack on Baltimore from its shores in the War of 1812.

Two recent hurricanes, Isabel (2003) and Ernesto (2006) flooded much of the island. A few houses have been abandoned while others are being elevated on new foundations.

The most common way of making a living on Tangier is by crabbing and oystering. There are now a few vacation homes on the island but most homes are owned by natives, whose family ties to the island go back generations.

The population of Tangier was 79 according to the 1800 census but by 1900 there were 1064 inhabitants. Now there are probably only 600 people living on the island.

Highlights

  • Access limited during low season due to the lack of transportation.
  • Alcohol can't be legally sold on the island.
  • Only short day trips are provided by commercial services (only for lunch and a walk).
  • Flying there offers more flexibility but airport closed at night (no runway lights)
  • To enjoy more of the island you have to stay on the island overnight.
  • Isolated in the middle of Chesapeake Bay you cannot see mainland from the island.

What's Out There
We sometime fly with my wife from Princeton, NJ (39N) to Tangier Island (TGI) for the day. We leave before the sun rise if we can to enjoy the beautiful morning light show and get to the island early.
As a pilot I love the destination, it feels like flying to a Carribean destination (though forget about the blue clear water which is not Chesapeake Bay main characteristic)! Before or after the tourist season it is a very quite place to land at. We are often the only plane showing up.
Once the plane secured on the small ramp we take a walk to "downtown" Tangier and try to find a place for a breakfast. Everything is very quite on the island and life is definitively slower than in New York! A day trip there makes me feel I took a few days off. There are many trails to follow across wetlands to reach isolated beaches where you may be by yourself.

How To Go
The only scheduled commercial service is by boat. There are a few tourist ferries that go to Tangier Island daily, from mid-April through mid-October:

  • Chesapeake Breeze - out of Reedville, VA.
  • Tangier-Rappahannock Cruises - out of Crisfield, MD.
  • Captain Eulice - out of Onancock, VA.

Tourists can use their own boat docking at Parks Marina. Parks Marina is located on the western side of the Tangier channel. Tangier Oil sells gasoline and diesel fuel and is located in the Basin next to the tour boat docks

Flying is the only other option but there is no commercial service. Private planes can use the Tangier Island airport small runway. Read More ...

How To Travel Around
Touring the island can be done walking, biking, or driving golf carts as there are no vehicles. The best option is walking as some area of the island would not be accessible otherwize.

Restaurants

There are a few restaurants on the island that you will find wandering around. One of the obvious local delight is crab! I am a big fan of their crab cakes. Among the island restaurants are:

  • Hilda Crockett's Chesapeake House
  • Fisherman's Corner
  • Lorraine's Seafood & Sandwich Shop
  • Waterfront Restaurant

Hotels
There are few options on the island and you should check ahead of time. Some of the accomodations include:

  • Hilda Crockett's Chesapeake House Bed and Breakfast
  • Bay View Inn Bed and Breakfast
  • Sunset Inn Bed and Breakfast

 

 




From the author: On Tangier Island, even trash cans are friendly (and this time I am not ironic).


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