Chincoteague Island and nearby Assateague Island are among the hidden treasures on the eastern shore of Virginia. Assateague Island lies within the boundaries of two states: Maryland and Virginia. Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge covers the Virginia section. Assateague State Park occupies the Maryland portion of the Island.
Chincoteague Island is perhaps best known for the annual pony swim and auction. Legend has it that one or more Spanish Galleons wrecked on Assateague Island, populating the island with what has become the world famous Chincoteague ponies, made famous in the book and movie Misty of Chincoteague. Every year in July, the local fire department rounds up the ponies, and the herd swims across the channel from Assateague to Chincoteague. The swim, auction and carnival attract visitors by the thousands.
Chincoteague offers a tremendous range of fishing opportunities. In early spring, flounder fishing is popular. As spring gives way to summer, the weather calms and anglers have a list of fish to pursue. Inshore, flounder may linger as croaker, trout, kingfish, and bluefish become more common. Deep sea fishing goes into high gear with sharks, bluefish, tuna, mahi mahi, wahoo, billfish, and other species inhabiting local waters. Fall brings cooler water and with it, red drum and striped bass, or "rockfish". Wreck and artificial reef fishing is practically a year round sport when weather allows.
Chincoteague is a hunter's paradise. Local guides maintain a variety of blinds in various locations. A typical hunt might include shooting a variety of species from several areas over the course of the day. Bring lots of ammunition! Deer hunters can participate in sika deer hunts on the refuge.
The area is famous for it's bird watching opportunities. Assateague Island is a mix of beaches, dunes, marshes, lagoons, creeks, bays grasslands and forests. The marshes and bays that surround Chincoteague Island also hold an abundance of wildlife. Ducks, geese, herons, and shorebirds wander the endless maze of waterways year round. In the winter, bird populations increase dramatically as waterfowl pour into Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas.
This is a great way to see the island's wealth of wildlife and enjoy the sundown over Chincoteague Bay. A variety of vessels are available throughout the year. Vacationers can choose from small rental boats, guided pontoon boats capable of carrying entire families, and even large ocean going cruisers. An experienced group of charter captains give visitors a wide range of eco-tourism choices.
Chincoteague is a treasure for art lovers. Shops display decoys and other carvings of every variation. Of particular interest are the working decoys that many carvers still produce. These are fully functional duck decoys, lifelike enough to fool the wariest of flocks. Many of these are too perfect to actually take hunting, regardless of their intended use. Other art includes paintings and photography of the natural environment, the famous Chincoteague ponies, waterfowl and other wildlife.