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Chincoteague: Lighthouses, Wild Ponies and Pirates

Program Number: 2005RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/21/2014 - 9/26/2014; 5/1/2016 - 5/6/2016; 5/22/2016 - 5/27/2016; 6/5/2016 - 6/10/2016; 8/28/2016 - 9/2/2016; 9/18/2016 - 9/23/2016; 10/2/2016 - 10/7/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Price starting at: $649.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: National Parks; History & Culture; Natural History
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners    

Serene and unspoiled, the small island of Chincoteague is home to exceptional human and natural history. Take a field trip to the iconic Assateague Lighthouse. See the lighthouse's rare Fresnel lens and Island treasures at the Museum of Chincoteague Island. Led by a local “saltwater cowboy” learn about the island’s famous ponies, memorialized in Marguerite Henry’s “Misty of Chincoteague,” which still run wild. Understand the fragility of life on a barrier island and the resilience of the people who live here as we delve into pirate legends and lore on the beach at Assateague and hear astounding stories of the U.S. Lifesaving Service that began in 1874.


• On Assateague Island, walk the longest undeveloped beach in the mid-Atlantic with an expert on dune ecology and explore restricted sections of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in search of ponies, Sika elk, deer, waterfowl and more.
• Enjoy an evening with musicians who teach you sea chanties and traditional Celtic music.
• Experience the Island’s way of life from past to present: spend time on the water learning about the traditional lives of watermen, exploring the techniques of modern aquaculture, and viewing the Wallops Island Space Flight facility across the mouth of Chincoteague Channel.

Activity Particulars

Walking less than a mile per day.

You may be interested in a three-night version of this program (#10545).

Date Specific Information


Comfortable motel conveniently located within walking distance of historic downtown Chincoteague and its restaurants and shops. Lightning, a Chincoteague pony makes the motel its home.

Coordinated by Museum of Chincoteague Island.

Chincoteague Island

One of several islands along Virginia’s Eastern Shore separating the Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean, Chincoteague Island is world-famous for its oyster beds and clam shoals, quaint Victorian-era villages and pristine beaches, and is the gateway to Assateague Island National Seashore and the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge.

Waterfront resort with sunset views from private balconies in all rooms. An elevator, pool, and hot tub are among the many amenities of this conveniently located resort.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Nancy West

Nancy Richards West has lived on Chincoteague Island for three decades, using this picturesque setting as inspiration for her paintings. The first resident artist chosen by the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the thrill of painting en plein air often lures her out of the studio and into the field, where she captures the effects of changing light, weather and seasons. Nancy has extensive training in classical drawing and color theory, and her delicate treatment of oils is subtly elegant. Her work has won numerous awards and honors, including the Ward Foundation’s top award for painting, and she represented the Commonwealth of Virginia at the White House Easter Festivities in 1996. Nancy received her B.A. with high honors in fine arts from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.. Nancy has been sharing her artistic talents on Road Scholar programs with the Museum of Chincoteague Island for almost 20 years.
Meals and Lodgings
   Rodeway Inn
  Chincoteague , Va. 5 nights
 Rodeway Inn
Type: Motel
  Description: The Rodeway Inn is located on Maddox Blvd., walking distance to historic downtown Chincoteague, restaurants, shops and amenities. Assateague National Seashore and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge are a five minute drive away. The conference room is on the second floor of the motel. The outdoor pool is available during the warmer months. Bike rental is available on the island. Patios and a pavilion are available for your use. Lighting, a Chincoteague pony, makes the motel his home.
  Contact info: 6273 Maddox Blvd.
Chincoteague Island, VA 23336 USA
phone: 757-336-6565
  Room amenities: All rooms include refrigerators, microwaves, coffee pots, ironing boards, hair dryers,and Internet access.
  Facility amenities: Seasonal outdoor pool. Guest laundry.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Determined by time of year. Participants wishing to arrive a day early or stay over an extra night should make arrangements directly with the motel. Be sure to tell them that you are with an Road Scholar program to get a special rate.
  Check in time: 2:30 PM
  Additional nights after: Determined by time of year. Participants wishing to arrive a day early or stay over an extra night should make arrangements directly with the motel. Be sure to tell them that you are with an Road Scholar program to get a special rate.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3:00-4:30 p.m. in the motel conference room for registration. You will be staying at Rodeway Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends at about 11:00 am, after the morning meeting and lecture. You will be staying at Rodeway Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking is available at the motel. There is not any public transportation on or to the island. Participants will want a car to go to the beach or downtown during their free time. Other transportation is on foot or by school bus
To Start of Program
  Location:  Chincoteague , Va.
  Nearest highway: Rte. 13
  Nearest airport:  Salisbury, Md.
  From End of Program
  Location: Chincoteague , Va.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Norfolk, Va.


From Airport




None - Car Required


Car rental is available at the airport. It is about 120 miles from the airport to Chincoteague Island.


Baltimore, Md.


From Airport




None - Car Required


Car rental is available at the airport. It is a 3 to 3 1/2 hour drive from the airport to Chincoteague Island.


Washington, D.C.


From Airport




None - Car Required


Car rental is available at the airport. It is a 3 to 4 hour drive from the airport to Chincoteague, depending on traffic.


Salisbury, Md.


From Airport




None - Car Required


Car rental is available at the airport. It is about 55 miles from the airport to Chincoteague Island.

Driving Directions
  All points north or south You will be traveling either north or south on Rte. 13. Turn east onto Rte. 175 at T's Corner in Oak Hall, Va. Rte. 175 will bring you onto Chincoteague Island. Once you are on the island program transportation is on foot or by school bus.
  Chincoteague Island The weather on Chincoteague Island is seasonal. It is usually cool in the early morning and evening, but warms up nicely during the day. Participants wishing more information about the area may contact the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce at 757-336-6161.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration; Orientation; Local History; Ice cream social
(Sunday, September 21)
 Afternoon: Please plan on arriving at the motel between 3:00 and 4:30 p.m. for registration.
 Dinner: 5:30 p.m. Dinner will be served for your dining pleasure. This program includes "A Taste Of The Island." We will be dining each evening at a different island venue, each known for its local cuisine and friendly service.
 Evening: This evening's activities include a schedule review, a colorful history of our local area as well as an ice cream social at the Island Creamery, featuring local, homemade ice cream. Discover the unique 300-year old history of Chincoteague and Assateague as you learn how its resilient people survived and adapted despite isolation, storms, wars, and changing economies.
Accommodations: Rodeway Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Birds; Visit to the host institution - Museum of Chincoteague Island; Assateague National Seashore ; Lighthouses
(Monday, September 22)
 Breakfast: 8:00 a.m. breakfast
 Morning: A five minute drive takes you to Assateague National Seashore, at 37 miles the longest stretch of wild undeveloped beach on the mid-Atlantic Coast. As you walk on the sandy shore, listen to your guide discuss dune ecology. Afterward travel to our small island museum, rated by TripAdvisor as one of the top 5 attractions on Chincoteague. With your expert guide, explore the museum's exhibits including 20,000 year old fossils, surprising shipwreck finds, handmade artifacts from the past, and much more. The museum is currently the home of Misty.
 Lunch: 12:00 p.m. Lunch
 Afternoon: More than 300 species of birds migrate through this area each year, using Assateague Island as a resting place. Learn the basics of tracking and banding bird populations and the importance of these activities for protecting threatened species. Our expert will focus on Raptors. The presentation will be highlighted with stunning images from an award winning photographer with many years of experience in his field.
 Dinner: Dinner at 5:30 p.m.
 Evening: Explore the roles lighthouses have played throughout history, especially on Assateague Island and the mid-Atlantic Coast. We will begin to understand the important place they had in marine safety.
Accommodations: Rodeway Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Wildlife Safari; "Geology of The Eastern Shore"; "Pirates"
(Tuesday, September 23)
 Breakfast: 8:00 a.m. Breakfast
 Morning: Explore the interior of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge to look for wild ponies, Sika elk, nesting terrapin, otters, bald eagles, Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel and other wildlife. A local birding expert with over 30 years experience, will be our guide. We will be going into an area that is normally closed to the public, so be sure to bring your camera for the trip. Take along your binoculars if you brought them.
 Lunch: 12:00 p.m. Lunch
 Afternoon: How much do you understand about the constantly changing environments of barrier islands like Assateague and Chincoteague? This afternoon's presentation will focus on the barrier islands. They are found throughout the world. Their sand formed as glaciers melted and caused rocks to grind against other rocks. They are strips of land constantly shifting as a result of coastal storms and hurricanes. Chincoteague, situated behind Assateague, enjoys protection from direct exposure to the Atlantic Ocean.
 Dinner: 5:30 p.m. Dinner on your own
 Evening: Learn about pirate history: fact and fiction of the local, mid-Atlantic Coast. Hear the rumors of Black Beard and his crew around Chincoteague and speculation of buried treasure on Assateague. Learn about the significant impact the European monarchs played in spawning the extensive pirate activity in the New World during the Golden Age of piracy.
Accommodations: Rodeway Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Lighthouse visit; Wildlife Art; Aquaculture
(Wednesday, September 24)
 Breakfast: 8:00 a.m. Breakfast
 Morning: Take a trip to our own lighthouse on Assateague. Understand the role of this facility in our history, and the dramatic, seeming change in its location resulting from the shifting sands. Learn first-hand about the recent restoration. Climb to the top for breathtaking views.
 Lunch: 12:00 p.m. Lunch
 Afternoon: Study the techniques of a local wildlife artist who is internationally recognized for her sensitive interpretations of this beautiful coast. Through the use of powerpoint and an actual painting session, Nancy Richards-West will demonstrate how she captures the subtle patterns of color, light and movement distinctive to the waterways, creatures and skies of Chincoteague.
 Dinner: 5:30 p.m. Dinner
 Evening: A local waterman will lecture us on the changing marine ecosystem and how the modern day marine industry is adapting. The oceans and shoreline create one ecosystem and the marshlands on the back of the barrier islands create another. We will learn how these ecosystems make some of the most productive marine environments in the world.
Accommodations: Rodeway Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Decoy Carving; Afternoon Island Exploration (Free time); Island family dinner with entertainment
(Thursday, September 25)
 Breakfast: 8:00 a.m. Breakfast
 Morning: An award winning decoy carver will demonstrate the skills of this traditional island craft handed down by generations. He will share the tricks of his trade, carving a decoy while he entertains us with amusing stories. A front row seat ensures you get the most out of this activity.
 Lunch: 12:00 p.m. lunch
 Afternoon: This afternoon is for you to create your own adventure. We will be available to help you take full advantage of the many unique opportunities tailored to your specific interests.
 Dinner: 5:30 p.m. Dinner
 Evening: Enjoy a concert by local artists. who will perform sea shanties and traditional Celtic music that will entertain and delight you
Accommodations: Rodeway Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Saltwater Cowboys and "Chincoteague Ponies"
(Friday, September 26)
 Breakfast: 8:00 a.m. Breakfast
 Morning: Today's guest speaker is a local "saltwater" cowboy and Chincoteague Volunteer Fireman. You will hear stories of the local fire company volunteers who care for the Chincoteague pony herd. A special video of the ponies will be shown and you will learn how the firemen keep the herd healthy and free. Our program will end after the morning talk at about 10:30 am.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Natural History of Quiet Waters

Author: Curtis J. Badger

Description: This is a wonderfully well-written, easy to understand description of the swamps and wetlands of the East Coast and their importance to our environment, history and culture. It is written from the perspective of someone who has experienced them first hand. Available on Chincoteague at Sundial Books (

Chincoteague and Assateague Islands (MD and VA) (images of America)

Author: Nan Devincent-Hays

Description: This book provides a short pictorial and narrative description of these two barrier islands, their history and relationship. One is a small town community catering to thousands of tourists who come almost year-round to enjoy the beach and view the wildlife on the other. Available on Chincoteague at Sundial Books (

Lighthouses of Maryland and Virginia

Author: Bob Trapani

Description: Through the year this book tells tales of the role of lighthouses in war and peace. It provides details about challenges faced by lighthouse keepers and the role they play in the region's history. Available on Chincoteague at Sundial Books (

Misty of Chincoteague

Author: Marguerite Henry

Description: A Newberry Honor book, for children 8 - 12 years old. This is the story of Paul and Maureen Beebe and their quest to buy the elusive Phantom, a wild Chincoteague pony. On Pony Penning Day, they not only bring in the Phantom, but also her colt, Misty. It is a wonderful heart-warming tale of the efforts of two children to achieve their dream..

Pirates of Virginia and Maryland, Plunder and High Adventure on the Old Dominion Coastline

Author: Mark P. Donnelly

Description: Tales of pirates from 1600 forward; captures their adventures and relationships for over 20 years; tells stories you have never heard. Available on Chincoteague at Sundial Books (

Seeds of Evidence

Author: Linda J. White

Description: This recently published novel involves an FBI Special Agent on leave at her Grandmother's home on Chincoteague, who becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of a young Latino boy. Available at Sundial Books on Chincoteague (

Tidal Surge

Author: Claudia Bagwell

Description: This locally published tale of the 1962 storm on Chincoteague is based on interviews and photographs and articles of the Eastern Shore News. It is a wonderfully interesting, personal story of the experiences of the people of the Island and their recovery. Available on Chincoteague at Sundial Books (

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