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Chincoteague Island

Updated on October 10, 2014

Chincoteague Island Virginia

This page describes Chincoteague Island Virginia, a family vacation destination on the East Coast of the USA. The island is world famous for its wild Chincoteague ponies and its pony swim, penning and auction.

The island is also famous for its seafood including salt oysters, clams, sea scallops, flounder, striped bass and other items. Nearby is Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, one of the nation's top rated wildlife areas.

This island town is home to the largest commercial port on the Eastern Shore, handling more than 3,000 vessels a year,

Things to do on Chincoteague Island include shopping, dining, exploring beaches, sunbathing, bird watching, festivals, flounder fishing, deep sea fishing, clamming, crabbing, nature cruises, kayaking, eco-tourism, nature tours and more.

Chincoteague Island

Chincoteague Island, Va is a family-oriented vacation resort along the Atlantic Coast of the USA. This small island is minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, Chincoteague Island National Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island National Seashore.

Vacations to the island can include recreational activities such as swimming, sunbathing, fishing, clamming, bird watching, nature cruises, eco tours, biking, hiking, boating, kayaking, miniature golf, Chincoteague ponies, the pony swim, fireman's carnival, decoy and art show, arts and crafts shows, seafood and oyster festivals and more.

The island is known for its shops and art galleries where local wildlife artists display art such as decoys and other bird carvings, paintings, photographs and sculptured wildlife pieces.

Chincoteague Island Pony Swim

A world famous Chincoteague Island event is the pony swim and penning, a tradition since 1924.

The swim, penning and auction is held on the last Wednesday and Thursday of July. Ponies are rounded up and swim the channel between Assateague and Chincoteague Islands.

During the week, mares, stallions and young ponies are penned, inspected, fed and given medical attention before the swim. At the auction, most of the foals auctioned off to qualified buyers. The remaining ponies are returned to Assateague Island after the penning to roam free for another year.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most popular refuges in the United States, especially among bird watchers. The refuge is either home to or a stop over point for a array of birds and other wildlife. Ducks, geese, swans, egrets, herons, skimmers, plovers, sanderlings and dozens of other shorebirds visit or live on the islands.

The refuge is also home to a variety of mammals and reptiles. The most famous are the Chincoteague ponies, but visitors may also spot whitetail deer, sika deer, foxes, muskrats, cottontail rabbits, box turtles, terrapins, and a few species of harmless snakes.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) reported that Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge reported the most recreational visits of roughly 80 national wildlife refuges during 2006. The refuge had about 7.5 million visitors for the year. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge held the number one spot for jobs at 3,766, economic return, at $315.4 million. Economic benefit was number one among the nations refuges with $155.42 returned for every $1 budgeted expenditures.

In late 2009, multiple noreaster storms devastated Assateague Island. The parking lots and much of the dunes were totally obliterated. Work continues to restore access to the beach for sunbathers, hikers, swimmers, fishermen and nature lovers.

Books about Chincoteague Island

Chincoteague Island Annual Events

Eastern Shore of Virginia Chamber of Commerce Seafood Festival is held annually in May.

Enthusiasts enjoy oysters, clams and fresh fish deliciously served Eastern Shore-style. The event is all-you-can-eat, held at Tom's Cove Campground, Chincoteague Island, VA.

The Annual Chincoteague Island Pony Swim and Penning is the last Wednesday and Thursday of July. Started in the 1924 as a fund raising event, it now also serves to keep the population of the horses down to the 150 adult animals that the Fish and Wildlife Service deems appropriate to protect the island habitat from overgrazing. The ponies are driven across a narrow part of the Assateague Channel at slack tide on Wednesday, corraled and auctioned off on Thursday. This "pony swim" is the highlight of the summer season.

The Chincoteague Island Blueberry Festival is an annual summer event. The 2-day festival is normally held the third full weekend in July, preceding the world famous pony swim and fireman's carnival. The festival has been a Chincoteague Island summer event since 1987. It has grown in size and now draws over 100 artists and crafts specialists.

The Chincoteague Island Virginia Oyster Festival is a popular annual event, held each year in October. The festival, created by the chamber of commerce, features Chincoteague Island's famous oysters. The event promotes the oyster season, which includes the cooler months of fall, winter and spring. The popularity of the event may require obtaining tickets well in advance as the festival often sells out.

National Waterfowl Week at Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge runs from the Saturday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The wildlife loop is usually open to vehicles all day during the event. This is a once a year opportunity to have vehicle access to the service road which extends northward into the refuge. From the service road, visitors are be able to get a close up view of many of the hidden ponds where they find ducks, geese, brant, shorebirds, wild ponies, deer and other wildlife.

A favorite late season event is the Chincoteague Island Christmas Parade. The parade is held each December along Main Street. This family-oriented event features fire companies from Delmarva, brightly illuminated floats, horses, bands, antique autos and colorful marching groups to begin the island's holiday season.

Assateague Lighthouse

Assateague Island lighthouse is another attraction for visitors to Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. The lighthouse is located within Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and is a popular tourist stop. The icon is visible from the ocean, the beach and from almost all of Chincoteague Island.

The lighthouse is owned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and is still actively used by the United States Coast Guard as an aid to navigation. The Lighthouse is 142 feet high on a site 22 feet about sea level.

Chincoteague Island Saltwater Fishing

Chincoteague Virginia is known for its saltwater fishing. Anglers of all ages come to Chincoteague to fish for flounder, croakers, trout, bluefish, black sea bass, kingfish, spot, tautog, spadefish, rockfish, red drum, black drum, sharks, tuna, mahi mahi, wahoo, marlin, swordfish and more.

Anglers fish in nearby creeks, back bays, near the inlet, in the ocean along the coast or go deep sea fishing as far out as Washington and Norfolk Canyons.

Chincoteague Decoys

Chincoteague Island is known for waterfowl hunting, decoys and other waterfowl and wildlife carvings. Chincoteague Island is one of the few places where hand carved working decoys are still used. Local artists carve all types of waterfowl and wildlife art.

The Chincoteague Island Decoy Carver's Association has over 200 members. Several shows on Chincoteague Island offer visitors with an opportunity to see and purchase decoys and wildfowl art from a number of local artists.

During tourist season, people come from all over ther world to visit the island and enjoy its culture. Visitors often browse the many shops that carry local wildfowl carvings, decoys and other art, many of whom take home a collectible working or decorative decoy.

Chincoteague Island Seafood

Chincoteague Virginia is well known for its excellent quality oysters. The salty ocean water provides an ideal environment for the growth of oysters and other shellfish.

Chincoteague Island is home to a successful aquaculture industry which also includes production of both oysters and clams.

Other local seafood includes flounder, tuna, mahi mahi, striped bass, croakers, spot, scallops, lobsters, clams, blue crabs and other delicacies.

Chincoteague Cultural Alliance

The Chincoteague Cultural Alliance is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization formed to enhance community life by fostering and promoting the growth and vitality of arts and culture on Chincoteague Island and Delmarva's Eastern Shore. The Alliance is the sponsor of the popular Second Saturdays Art Stroll on Chincoteague.

Please tell us about your trips to Chincoteague Island.

Chincoteague Island Guestbook

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    • profile image

      ratetea 5 years ago

      I've wanted to visit Chincoteague for some time now. I am hoping to get there sooner or later! It sounds like a wonderful place!

    • IncomeFromHomeT profile image

      IncomeFromHomeT 5 years ago

      Nice job on this lens. Makes me want to take the drive down there! I've got a friend who has a farm near Assateague.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I love Chincoteague Island. So much to experience there that is unique to that area.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Chincoteague is a wonderful place to visit!

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 6 years ago

      This is one of 2 vacation options I have in mind for this year, nice page!

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

      Awesome place, it's just that I visited it soooooooooo long ago, I can't remember if we saw any ponies, I do remember smores on the beach, some nearly 25 years ago. Our skipper took a hand full of ensigns down for a day. It was great. Thanks for sharing this outstanding lens!

    • profile image

      indiavacationplans 6 years ago

      Wonderful places and ideas! I hope you get to go to each and every one of these places!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      The Chincoteague Island looks beautiful and the ponies are the cutest part of it.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 7 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Like most folks, we know about Chincoteague Island from the Misty books by M. Henry.

    • profile image

      scar4 7 years ago

      Have only been to the beaches in North Carolina. Will definitely try the places you recommended.

    • profile image

      martialartstraining 7 years ago

      Superb lens, I love places like these where things arent as bustling as in cities. it reminds me that simpler things are still around

    • KarenHC profile image

      Karen 7 years ago from U.S.

      My daughter-in-law and I were just talking about the "Misty" books, and remembering how much we loved them as kids. We're lobbying to go to Chincoteague next year as a family vacation, and I can use your info to help sway my husband (won't be difficult -- we'd both love to go to the National Wildlife Refuge!).

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Very nice lens, 5*****. I would like to go there one day, only heard of it before from the movie "Misty".

    • profile image

      km352 8 years ago

      Well done! One of the great places for wildlife photography along the U.S. Atlantic coast.

    • profile image

      GaryM1 8 years ago

      Great lens. I've been to Chincoteague Island about a dozen times, mostly for its great variety of bird life. Even went camping there with some non-birding friends Your lens re-kindled some old memories.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 8 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      Congratulations on your purple star!

    • profile image

      heipet 8 years ago

      I have submitted this lens to "All 50 States"!

      Don`t forget to vote for it.

      heipet - SUMMER Group groupmaster

    • Barkely profile image

      Barkely 9 years ago

      I remember reading the Misty stories when I was growing up. This lens brings back fond memories every time I visit:-)

    • profile image

      jipock 9 years ago

      Great Lens! Chincoteague is a great place to go! I know that I loved it! 5*****

    • profile image

      jessicahoward 9 years ago

      wow great lens....the photos are amazing...thanx for sharing it...great job done....thanx for sharing it...

    • profile image

      geogad 9 years ago

      Nice lens.. Very nice photos. Thanks for the info on Chincoteague Island!!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 9 years ago


      You must love your home state of Virginia judging from all the lenses you have created on the subject. This island sounds delightful. I will have to visit next time I come to Virginia. Five stars *****

    • profile image

      johnsunvalley 9 years ago

      cool for this post.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 9 years ago from Covington, LA

      Great lens. I've been fascinated with the Chincoteague ponies since I read Marguerite Henry's books as a child. 5*'s and favorite Thanks for joining the Naturally Native Squids group. Don't forget to add your lens links to the appropriate plexos and vote for them.

    • SteveAtkinson profile image

      SteveAtkinson 9 years ago

      Chincoteague is a great place and this is a great lens.

    • starlitparlit profile image

      starlitparlit 9 years ago

      Wow, sounds like a gret place to visit. I had never heard of it before I read this lens.

    • TopStyleTravel profile image

      TopStyleTravel 9 years ago

      Great lens! Congrats on Top 100! I have traveled to and have family in Virginia and never heard of Chincoteague Virginia before. Thanks for the insight.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      What a great lens, lots of interesting info and nice pictures, everything is just beautifully laid out too! Well done! - Kathy

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 9 years ago from USA

      This beautiful lens is today's feature at the Giant Squid Community Showcase.

    • profile image

      coopd 9 years ago

      Wonderful lens with great info! 5* Welcome to my Nature Lovers group :)

    • profile image

      beachbum_gabby 9 years ago

      wow~ great place for fishing! wish I could visit this place someday.

    • profile image

      Roy-Scribner 9 years ago

      Nice lens! I think my sister wore-out that Misty book, when she was a kid - lol

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 9 years ago from Vermont

      Assateague is a wonderland for nature lovers. We've visited several times and really enjoy watching the ponies, deer and birds from afar in such a beautiful environment.

    • isabella lm profile image

      isabella lm 9 years ago

      Your lens is a really good one! Bravo! We invite you to join the brand new World's Best Island Guide group.

    • jackieulmer lm profile image

      jackieulmer lm 9 years ago

      Great lens! The "Misty" books were a fav of mine as a kid and now my daughter has read them. We want to plan a trip there soon to see it. Thanks for the information!

      EXPECT Success!

      Jackie Ulmer

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Beautiful lens. I really enjoyed reading it.

    • profile image

      Intercambio 9 years ago

      Chincoteague is a great place. I love your lens!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      Chincoteague Island sounds like a great vacation spot. I love to fish.



    • ecovicki profile image

      ecovicki 9 years ago

      I love this island. I visited when I was young. Thanks for the lens.

    • beeobrien lm profile image

      beeobrien lm 9 years ago

      Wonderful lens and beautiful area. 5*****

    • rebeccahiatt profile image

      rebeccahiatt 9 years ago

      I loved reading your lens, it brings back fond memories of reading Misty when I was a child. Thanks

    • profile image

      beachbum_gabby 9 years ago

      wonderful vacation spot and a great place for fishing.

    • Webcodes LM profile image

      Webcodes LM 9 years ago

      Interesting, never heard of Chincoteague Island til now. Where does the name come from? 5*

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 9 years ago from Idaho

      Not only have I read the book about Misty, and the others, but my sisters have visited the island. Their stories and your website makes me want to go see it. This is an awesome lens, and I know how much work you put into it!!! 5***** and a lensroll to you! Linda

    • profile image

      thepspmaster 9 years ago

      Chincoteague is a nice place. I love your lens!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 10 years ago from New York

      This sounds like a wonderful place to visit. I had never heard of it before finding this lens. Now I want to go there. I love deep sea fishing and miss it terribly. This sounds like the place for it.



      Big Island of Hawaii

    • profile image

      sjkew 10 years ago

      My favourite books growing up were the Marguerite Henry books about the ponies of Chincoteague. This page was a real blast from the past!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 10 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Reminds me of the song "Take me back to old Vergini." Great song, great lens. Some day I'm going to travel there. It sounds like a nice place to visit. 5 stars

    • profile image

      Travel-Nurse 10 years ago

      I have found memories of Chincoteague and Assateauge Islands from vacationing there as a kid with my family. I hope it hasn't changed too much...

    • profile image

      iqbal615 10 years ago

      Hi.Chincoteague Island sound like great place.Never heard before.Thanks for your info.5 stars.

    • profile image

      JanellePeratis 10 years ago

      Wonderful Lens! I remember reading Misty of Chincoteague when I was a kid and always wanted to visit the area. Your lens brings provides so much wonderful information about the area.

    • profile image

      beachbum_gabby 10 years ago

      excellent job! Never been to this place before and it looks very interesting to visit.

    • AnnBecker profile image

      AnnBecker 10 years ago

      Very nice job with this lens, one I hope to aspire to!

    • Gigglesoup profile image

      Gigglesoup 10 years ago

      Wow! I can see why your lens is so highly rated. Lots of information on such a beautiful place. Chincoteague Island sounds like it would be a great place for a wedding. Speaking of which, I'm at if you want to stop by and say "hi."

    • profile image

      thomasz 10 years ago

      I like this lens. 5 stars to you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Thanks for joining my travel group!

    • profile image

      South-America-Travel 10 years ago

      Top class lens - loads of comprehsive info. Impressed!

    • profile image

      internetry 10 years ago

      Interesting lens you have made! Congratulations. I have just finished my first one.

      See you around!

      Internetry. :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Great lens! I have very fond memories of camping there with my family as a child. It was really neat! I live in Va Beach now, which is pretty neat also!

      Check out my lenses and give me a rating!

      Thanks! Sara --

    • ChristopherScot1 profile image

      ChristopherScot1 10 years ago

      Great lens. Keep it up!

    • NAIZA LM profile image

      NAIZA LM 10 years ago

      Delightful travel lens! I would love to have a visit someday. Interesting place! 5 stars for you!

    • profile image

      ebizsalez 10 years ago

      thats cool info. I visited Virginia last year i went to Shanandoah valley it was awesome!

      from fellow lens: bigsaveontravel

    • LisaJesse profile image

      LisaJesse 10 years ago

      Hi ! Great work on your lens. I loved it!

      Lots of info and I can't wait to see more

      from you. Please visit my Sweet Honeymoons

      lens. How much do you love me? Hit me back and

      let me know! Your friend, ~ LISA ~

    • profile image

      Enchanted_Ways 10 years ago

      Very nice lens! I read about Misty as a child and always wanted to see the ponies swim. Thanks for all the info!

    • Karendelac profile image

      Karendelac 10 years ago

      I gave you 5 stars. This lens is loaded with valuable information on the island. All the Best, Karen at Karen's Kinkade Art Store

    • profile image

      elishadavis 10 years ago

      Interesting and informative lens. Great job! Cheers!

    • GrillGirl profile image

      GrillGirl 10 years ago

      I used to live at Wallops Island. Our favorite place to eat was Ray's Shanty. You brought back some great memories. I guess there are still a lot of mosquitoes. Whew. Those things loved me.

    • profile image

      flaminglacer 10 years ago

      Squid Angel Star

    • profile image

      heipet 10 years ago

      Hi daybreak, I invite you to add your fascinating lens to my (very) new group "SUMMER":

      It still has some bugs in it, e.g. there is no JOIN button (Squidoo Support is working on it) so you have to leave me a blurb in the guestbook and I will add you manually!

    • Barkely profile image

      Barkely 11 years ago

      Beautiful. We go to the Outer Banks every year, this makes me want to journey a litle further north on our next trip. I loved the Misty books when I was growing up. Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      graall 11 years ago

      This is really amazing! I've never heard of this place before (not that it means a lot:), but you did a great job here promoting it!!

    • M Schaut profile image

      Margaret Schaut 11 years ago from Detroit

      Beautiful Lens! Great work. I'm looking forward to future lenses... America the wonderful!