Kayaking the Eastern Shore: The Chesapeake and the Atlantic

Kayak the shores, inlets and wildlife-abundant rivers of coastal Virginia with experts, learning about regional ecosystems and local history as you improve your kayaking technique.
Rating (5)
Program No. 2285RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Experience the coastal environment from a new perspective as you kayak while viewing coastal flora and fauna. Paddle with Chincoteague Bay Field Station ecologists/biologists through salt marsh ecosystems, over eel grass beds and up a picturesque river and extraordinary coastal creeks of the Chesapeake and Chincoteague Bays.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Kayaking between 4-5 hrs a day up to 6 miles. Climbing in and out of boats. Paddling in forested rivers and in open marsh channels where wind and tidal currents can be strong; recent kayaking experience recommended. Good swimming skills are required. Walking up to a half-mile.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Experience day and night paddles through the diverse waters of the Eastern Shore, including the scenic Pocomoke River, which snakes through one of the northernmost cypress swamps.
  • Refresh your skills through classroom and field instruction and demonstrations, starting with the basics and progressing through more advanced skills.
  • Learn about the coastal and bay ecosystems of the Eastern Shore, winding through a salt marsh for intimate encounters with egrets, herons and other animals.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room. Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available. For this program, participants paddle in tandem kayaks (2 people per kayak) provided by the Field station each day.
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.
Kayaking Made Easy, 3rd: A Manual for Beginners with Tips for the Experienced (Made Easy Series)
by Dennis Stuhaug
This newly expanded and revised third edition of Kayaking Made Easy: A Manual For Beginners With Tips For The Experienced by Dennis Stuhaug is a complete and thorough "how to" guide to the sport and recreation of kayaking. Providing readers with a concisely presenting approach to preparing for and engaging in kayaking, Kayaking Made Easy offers a truly "user friendly" guide to everything from choosing the right hull for individual needs, outfitting the kayak with seat, flotation, spray deck and other fittings, mastering basic maneuvers from the sweep stroke to the sculling brace, and assembling a kayaking wardrobe that is both comfortable and affordable, to safe navigation through the hazards of wind, fog, eddies and rip currents, and ensuring that all companions, including kids, enjoy the active and fun ride. A welcome addition to personal and community library reference collections, Kayaking Made Easy is very strongly recommended reading for novice kayakers, and has much of value to offer even seasoned kayakers. Warning: This instruction guide relies heavily on written descriptions rather than pictures.
Sea Kayaking: A Woman's Guide
by Shelley Johnson
All kayakers, women and men, will benefit from reading this book. It is an interesting and easy-to-understand guide with lots of descriptive photos and drawings. It covers a wide range of topics such as:getting to know your kayak & paddle, safety and emergency info, carrying and transporting your kayak, weather and navigation, and much more Novice paddlers and seasoned veterans alike will find this a highly readable and eminently sensible guidebook to the essentials of safe and enjoyable sea kayaking. Basing her instructive technique on the "talk it over and think it through first" school of outdoor learning, author Shelley Johnson's tone is friendly and conversational. Whether discussing useful ways to carry and transport a kayak, getting in and out of it, or staying afloat, she is quick to offer supportive, practical advice. Yes, for instance, proper paddling techniques are difficult to master; but with the easy-to-follow captioned photographs provided, forward, backward, turning, and support strokes are a whole lot easier to understand and ultimately execute. If your greatest fears are the "wet exit" (capsizing) and hypothermia, you'll be pleased to learn there are myriad ways to prepare for and/or prevent such safety hazards. In addition to lending her own expertise, Johnson also includes comments, stories, and instruction from veteran water women of all ages. Chapters on weather/tidal conditions, equipment, and heading out with children all brim with excellent tips and straightforward advice. A resource listing is also included. So if you want the lowdown on how to be well prepared, properly geared, and safety conscious in a sea kayak, this edition of the Ragged Mountain Press Woman's Guide series points the way.
A Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore: From the Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras
by Kenneth L. Gosner
More than 1,000 illustrations, arranged according to visual similarities, show plant and animal species of the Atlantic Coast from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras. This guide includes information on how to locate each species by geographic range, tidal range, tidal level, season, topography, and climate.
Life and Death of the Salt Marsh
by Mildred and John Teal
Life and Death of the Salt Marsh is a book that focuses on many aspects of the ecology of the salt marsh. To quote the authors, it is "about the marshes of the East Coast of North America: how they were formed; why they continue to exist; the interplay of plants and animals; and the effect of that influential animal, man." This book does a very thorough job of covering all these topics. It begins with the story of one particular salt marsh, how it formed, what happened to it when colonists first arrived and used it for hay production, and its eventual death after human impact became so great as to prevent marsh recovery. The remainder of the book gives detailed descriptions of the processes and organisms that affect the salt marsh. These include the geology, history of glaciation, plant and animal species, seasons, and topics relating to marsh pollution and conservation. Considering that this book was written in 1969, thirty years ago, it still seems to have good scientific accuracy. It is interesting to look at this book from a historical perspective, especially the sections on conservation. Preservation of marshes is important for many reasons. The main reason for preservation being that a large variety of species rely on salt marshes during part or all of their life cycle. Many of these species are commercially viable and are (or were when the book was written) important to the East Coast economy. The chapter on pollution control was very interesting. It includes discussion of the use of DDT. Most ecologist today have heard of or read Silent Spring and know about the dangers of DDT. Life and Death of the Salt Marsh was written just before Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, and brings up the many dangers and harmful side effects of DDT. Obvious DDT was an area of concern for many people in fields related to ecology in the late 60's. The entire book could be related to many aspects of ecology and is thus relevant to anyone interested in the ecology of salt marshes.
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
by David Allen Sibley and Rick Cech
Providing birders the convenience of portability, Sibley's newest volume breaks down the information in The Sibley Guide to Birds into specific regions (The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America will be published the same month). The guide includes much of the basic information in the Guide to Birds, such as the parts of a bird and general color-coded maps, but focuses most of its attention on birds who make their home east of the Rocky Mountains, such as the Double-crested Cormorant and the Eastern Screech-Owl. The color-coded maps that accompany each bird show where the birds live throughout North America, so that birders in, say, Pennsylvania, will know to look for the Northern Mockingbird in California as well. And, of course, Sibley's beautiful full-colored paintings of birds jump out at every page-even in small format.

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