The Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce, 6733 Maddox Blvd., Chincoteague Island, VA 23336 (tel. 757/336-6161; fax 757/336-1242; www.chincoteaguechamber.com), operates a visitor center in the traffic circle on Maddox Boulevard, about a mile before the Assateague Bridge. It's open Monday through Saturday 9am to 4:30pm.
Chincoteague Waves magazine (www.chincoteaguewaves.com), which you will see at the chamber and elsewhere, is a good source.
For information about the area, contact Virginia's Eastern Shore Tourism Commission, P.O. Box 72, Tasley, VA 23441 (tel. 757/787-8268; www.esvatourism.org).
The Virginia Tourism Corporation operates a Virginia Welcome Center (tel. 757/824-5000) on U.S. 13 just south of the Maryland state line.
There is neither airport nor public transportation on the Eastern Shore, so you'll need a car. From Norfolk and Virginia Beach take U.S. 13 north across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (www.cbbt.com), a beautiful 18-mile drive over and under the bay ($12 toll per car). U.S. 13 runs north-south down the center of the Eastern Shore. To reach Chincoteague, turn east on Va. 175, about 65 miles north of the bridge-tunnel and 5 miles south of the Maryland line.
Va. 175 crosses several miles of salt marshes and the Chincoteague Channel before crossing a new bridge onto the island at the intersection of Main Street, which runs north-south along the western shore, and Maddox Boulevard, which heads east to Assateague Island. Maddox Boulevard is Chincoteague's prime commercial strip, with an abundance of shops, restaurants, and motels. Turn right at the stoplight to reach the motels, marinas, and bait shops along Main Street south of the bridge. Church Street goes east 2 blocks from the village and turns into East Side Drive, which runs along the island's Eastern Shore. Ridge Road and Chicken City Road (yes, it's really named Chicken City) together run north-south down the middle of the island. On Assateague, there's only one road other than a wildlife drive, and it goes directly to the beach.
These flat islands are great for biking. Although there are no bike paths per se on Chincoteague, there are lanes set aside on some of the streets, particularly Maddox Boulevard as it approaches the Assateague Bridge. Bikes are allowed on the trails and paths on Assateague, so you can ride all the way to the beach. Several shops on Maddox Boulevard rent bikes of various sizes. The Bike Depot & Beach Outfitters, at the Refuge Inn (tel. 757/336-5511), and Jus' Bikes, 6527 Maddox Blvd. (tel. 757/336-6700), are closest to Assateague Island. Rates start at $3 an hour at both, $14 a day.
Another easy way to get around during summer is on the Pony Express Trolley (tel. 757/336-6519), which circles Chincoteague Island every 30 minutes Sunday through Thursday 5 to 11pm, Friday and Saturday 5pm to midnight. The fare is 25¢ per ride, exact change required. The trolley also has summertime narrated tours of Chincoteague, usually on Tuesday and Thursday at 2:45 and 3:45pm, but call ahead for a current schedule. Tickets go on sale the same day for these first-come, first-served tours, which depart from the Chincoteague Community Center, 6155 Community Drive, off Deep Hole near Maddox Boulevard. Fares are $3 for adults, $2 for children younger than 13.
Mosquitoes, Mosquitoes & More Mosquitoes
I grew up in coastal North Carolina and thus am accustomed to fighting off my share of mosquitoes, but Chincoteague, Assateague, and Tangier islands set a new standard for slapping, itching, and scratching. The Chincoteague mosquitoes seem more prone to make meals of my blood at dawn and dusk, but the Assateague variety is not nearly so finicky. Neither are the biting horse flies on Assateague, who don't care what time of day they attack! Consequently, I go nowhere here -- including the beach -- before applying ample insect repellent.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.