Chincoteague: Lighthouses, Wild Ponies and Pirates
Virginia's only inhabited barrier island and the national wildlife refuge and seashore have stunning vistas, wild ponies, wildlife, miles of trails and beaches and a memorable history.
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 2005RJ
6 days
Starts at
Getting There
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At a Glance

Chincoteague Island, Virginia’s only inhabited barrier island, retains the aura of a waterside village of years past. Discover the island’s exceptional history from its earliest settlers to today – a story that includes maritime events, pirate lore and Chincoteague’s surprising role in the Civil War. Learn how watermen plied the island’s waters for its famous oysters and clams and how modern aquaculture has transformed the shellfish industry. Travel to the adjacent Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, rich in wildlife, waterfowl and natural habitats, and visit its iconic Assateague Lighthouse, explore nature trails and stroll its pristine seashore. Observe the herds of wild Chincoteague ponies that still roam the marshes and beaches of the Refuge and were forever memorialized in Marguerite Henry’s timeless classic novel “Misty of Chincoteague.” Watch a local artist create a waterfowl painting as she describes how Chincoteague and its wildlife inspire her. Enjoy Chincoteague Bay vistas from your private balcony.
Activity Level
Easy Going
Walking less than a mile per day. All of Chincoteague and most of Assateague are flat terrain.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Cruise island waters to observe ponies and wildlife, view the NASA rocket launch sites on nearby Wallops Island, and see Assateague Island from the water as it appeared to mariners of long ago.
  • Visit the Museum of Chincoteague Island with its rare 1st order Fresnel lighthouse lens and historic island treasures.
  • Sample island cuisine, and enjoy a performance by local musicians who will entertain you with sea shanties, island songs and Celtic music.

General Notes

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

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Nancy Richards West
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Jenny Somers
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Cindy Faith
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