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 (5)
Program No. 2005RJ
6 days
Starts at

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. 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.”
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 ...

  • Boat along 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, "Island Adventure: Discover Chincoteague and Assateague Islands" (#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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Chip Lewis
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Beth Scheeley
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Nancy Richards West
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Jenny Somers
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
A Natural History of Quiet Waters
by Curtis J. Badger
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 (www.sundialbooks.net)
Misty of Chincoteague
by Marguerite Henry
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. Available at Museum of Chincoteague Island.
The Sea is a Thief
by David Parmalee
A century and a half after it was fought, we have come to know the War Between the States as series of debates, campaigns, and battles won or lost. The Sea is a Thief, a thoroughly researched historical novel, offers a new perspective from the dusty lanes and muddy channels of Chincoteague, an oystering island in Virginia, chronicling its effects on a captivating crew of hardy watermen, rogue hunters, moonshiners and merchants. At the center of the storm stand an unlikely young couple who desire only to love each other in peace. Of course, the beloved wild ponies of Chincoteague play a central role. Available on Chincoteague at Sundial Books (www.sundialbooks.net).
Lighthouses of Maryland and Virginia
by Bob Trapani
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 (www.sundialbooks.net).
Pirates of Virginia and Maryland, Plunder and High Adventure on the Old Dominion Coastline
by Mark P. Donnelly
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 (www.sundialbooks.net)
Watermen and Wild Ponies, A Chincoteague Waterman Remembers Life on Chincoteague and Assateague
by Robert H. Mears and Lorna Gagneux
An informative and touching chronicle of the life-long friendship of two business partners who catch and sell fish, oysters and clams for over 30 years until the early 1960's. It reflects the flavor of living and making a livelihood on Chincoteague and the early settlement of Assateague. Available on Chincoteague at Sundial Books (www.sundialbooks.com)
Seeds of Evidence
by Linda J. White
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 (www.sundialbooks.net).
Tidal Surge
by Claudia Bagwell
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 (www.sundialbooks.net).
Chincoteague and Assateague Islands (MD and VA) (images of America)
by Nan Devincent-Hays
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 (www.sundialbooks.net).

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