Chincoteague: Virginia's Island Village

by Mary and Bill Burnham

Chincoteague Ponies

There may be no place quite like it. You'll find geese crossing the road, wild ponies on a wildlife refuge and an artists' village within a fun beach town.

The town is most famous for the wild ponies that live on adjacent Assateague Island. Here, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge has hiking and biking trails, an historic lighthouse, and miles and miles of white sand beach without a condo in sight. The annual pony swim and auction takes places in July.

2nd Saturday

In town, you can stroll down Main Street and side streets to visit more than 50 shops, restaurants, and lodgings. Browse shops like Island Butterfly and Crazy Lady, then recharge with an ice cream from Mr. Whippy's or a 'Chincochino' from Main Street Shop Coffeehouse, located inside an historic Sears cottage.

The 2nd Saturday Art Stroll showcases the town's many talents when shops and galleries are open late on the Second Saturday of the month, April through December. There's usually a wine-tasting at Wine, Cheese & More, artists demonstrations, book-signings, live music, readings and craft-making at venues throughout town.

Capt. Barry's eco-tour

Fun to Do

Captain Barry's Back Bay Cruise is the most entertaining eco-tour around. Blowing on a conch shell as his pontoon boat passes a waterfront bar, he pulls up his crab traps to see what's in them, and hops in the saltmarsh to look for squiggly stuff. A lot of it's show for the kids, but even locals will learn something from this energetic, water-loving captain.

Click here to read about paddling the barrier islands.

Places to Stay

Lodging is plentiful, with more than 1,000 guestrooms in town and numerous vacation homes throughout the island. Visit