Exploring Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Even though I’m a native of Williamsburg and my husband has lived here for more than 30 years, neither of us had explored the Eastern Shore. Unlike most girls of my generation, I had never read the famous tweens book Misty of Chincoteague, because the book Black Beauty about an abused thoroughbred made me cry buckets of tears and I swore off of equestrian titles after that trauma. I’m glad I corrected that omission before we made this trip, because it made seeing the wild horses of Assateague Island all the more magical.

We started off with our little trailer across the amazing Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel to Kipptopeke, where we spent two nights, venturing up to Cape Charles for a day of jet skiing, shopping, and dining, then up to Onancock for a delightful lunch on the marina before heading up to Chincoteague for two more nights. Chincoteague may be our new favorite place! (But OBX is still in the running.) We liked the small-town feel and protected wildlife areas. It was only a 4-mile bike ride from our KOA campground to the ocean at Assateague.

We saw the wild horses as soon as we drove on to Assateague Island. What joy to hear them whiny to each other as their family group ran along the side of the road! The marshes were home to the usual egrets and herons this time of year. Across the marshes we could see more wild horses grazing, but the only evidence of them visiting the beach was tiny hoof prints and tiny …. um … well, you know.

The beach was unusual because you drive right up to the dune and park. On one side of the dune is the majestic Atlantic Ocean, on the other side of the dune and parking area is calm Tom’s Cove, where it was easy to wade or calmly float protected from the wind and tumult of the ocean waves.

SUP with New and Old Friends at Jamestown Beach, VA

Met friend-of-a-friend Dana who had a new SUP and wanted to practice, as well as my kayaking friend Dawn who had never tried SUP. Dana, her son, and brave dog enjoyed sharing their iSUP while I coached Dawn. So proud of her for taking a dunk, but getting back on the board and standing up on her first outing!

Kayaking Gordon’s Creek, Williamsburg, VA

The Virginia Paddlers Meetup group were “dressed for the dunk” on 52 degree water, wearing dry suits and neoprenes. We were worried that we’d be too warm in the spring sunshine, but it was very pleasant in the slight breeze on the water. The osprey nests were very active. Lots of people were fishing from the pier.

The renovated shoreline at Chickahominy Riverfront Park is coming along nicely, with the new tent camp sites due to open late spring or early summer. The county has created three sandy beach areas between the riprap, which should be nice for putting in paddle craft, but I’m not aware of their plans to put in walk ways from the sites and the slope is fairly steep. Can’t wait to see the finished project!

Canoeing Waller Mill Pond

Took a short spin on the local reservoir to try out our new (to us) canoe. Waller Mill is an old favorite … we’ll go back with upgraded paddles when the leaves change color.

Bethel Beach to Winterhaven Harbor, VA

We went from Bethel Beach in sight of Wolftrap Lighthouse down to Winter Harbor Haven, then through the marshes a bit before returning on the bay. Just enough wave action to have fun riding a few, without wearing ourselves out. About 10 or 11 miles.

Circumnavigating Jamestown Island, VA

Sunshine and a nice breeze felt so good today on the James near Jamestown, VA. We circumnavigated the Island,  which is about 9 miles.  Two of our paddlers practiced self rescue and rolling techniques when we stopped for a lunch and stretch break at Black Point. The eagles were very active today.

Paddling Wormeley Creek, VA

Pretty creek off of the York River near Yorktown has the added attraction of the Coast Guard Training school. Beware the jelly fish! Low tide can make navigating the shoal at the entrance to the York difficult. The channel is deceptive, but marked – power boats must zig zag to the edge of the creek, while paddlers can head straight up the middle. The north end of the creek has several Osprey nests.

Mattaponi River Near Walkerton, VA

We put in at the Walkerton public boat ramp for a downriver out and back. As a protected waterway in the Mattaponi Indian preservation area, this river is very pretty and clean.

SUP on Harrison Lake, VA

Small, but pleasant lake to explore because it has a cypress swamp at one end. Use care if on standup paddle boards, because there are many obstacles just below the surface in the cypress end of the lake.

SUP at Jamestown, VA

Enjoyed the sunset with our paddleboards.