11 Things to Do on Tangier Island

Things to Do on Tangier Island

Nestled in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay, Tangier Island is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. With its rich history, unique culture, and breathtaking landscapes, it’s a destination that promises an unforgettable adventure. 

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or someone in search of tranquility, Tangier Island has something to offer. The possibilities are endless, from kayaking through serene waterways to indulging in the island’s famous crab cakes. 

Ready to uncover the secrets of this captivating island? Join us as we embark on a journey to discover the top things to do on Tangier Island, where every path leads to a discovery and every moment is a treasure waiting to be found. 

Discover Tangier Island: The Soft Shell Crab Capital

Tangier Island often hailed as the “soft shell crab capital of the world,” is a fascinating destination nestled in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay. Comprising many small islands, Tangier is a place where nature’s beauty meets a rich cultural heritage.

Getting to Tangier Island 

Accessing Tangier Island is part of the adventure. In the summer, visitors can reach the island via ferry services, cruise ships, or even small planes.

A unique perspective of the Chesapeake Bay is provided by each mode of transportation, offering an unforgettable experience.

A Glimpse of Island Life

Tangier is home to around 700 residents, most of whom earn their living through crabbing and oystering. For generations, the community has been deeply intertwined with the water reflected in its way of life. Tangier has few amenities, such as restaurants, gift shops, and a small grocery store. 

Cars are a rarity; residents prefer golf carts, boats, mopeds, and bikes. Modern living gives way to a slower, more authentic pace here. The narrow roads, wide enough only for two golf carts to pass, add to the island’s unique charm.

11 Entertaining Things to Do on Tangier Island

Adventure Awaits: Outdoor Activities on Tangier Island

Tangier Island is not just a place to relax and enjoy the serene surroundings; it’s a hub for outdoor enthusiasts. Nature, the unique landscape, and the culture of the island offer visitors a variety of activities to explore.

1. Kayaking Through the Trails of Tangier: A Unique Experience

Kayaking on Tangier Island is an experience like no other. The Tangier Island History Museum provides free kayaks and canoes from its dock, allowing visitors to explore the self-guided “water trails” around Tangier and surrounding marshes. 

You’ll discover hidden coves and observe wildlife in their natural habitat while paddling through calm waters. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, the trails of Tangier offer an intimate connection with nature.

2. Exploring by Golf Cart: Family Fun on the Island

Golf carts are a primary mode of transportation on Tangier Island. With roads only wide enough for two golf carts to pass, exploring the island by golf cart is a delightful experience for the whole family. Residents line up when the boats arrive each day to offer tours around the island. 

Rentals are available, and it’s a fun way for teens to try their hand at driving in a safe environment. A golf cart tour provides a leisurely way to see the sights, learn about the island’s history, and interact with the friendly locals.

3. Southern Beach: A Secluded Paradise

The southern beach of Tangier Island is a hidden gem, boasting the nicest sands on the Chesapeake. A large population of seabirds on the beach is easily accessible from land or water.

Here, you can enjoy a tranquil walk along the shore, collect seashells, or simply relax and watch the waves. It is a natural beauty spot that is free of crowds and commercialization, which adds to its allure.

4. Fishing and Crabbing: A Marine Wildlife Adventure

Tangier Island is renowned for its marine wildlife, particularly its abundance of fish and crabs. Fishing and crabbing are not just hobbies here; they are a way of life. Visitors can spend hours sitting on a pier with a fishing rod or a chicken neck on a string, bringing in the catch of the day. 

Guided fishing tours offer insights into Tangier’s fishing community. It’s a hands-on experience that connects you with Tangier’s maritime history whether you’re an angler or a novice crabber.

Savor the Flavors: Culinary Delights on Tangier Island

Tangier Island’s culinary scene is a reflection of its maritime heritage. This picturesque island in the Chesapeake Bay offers an abundance of fresh seafood prepared using traditional recipes. From succulent crab cakes to freshly caught fish, the flavors of Tangier are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

1. Feast on Fresh Seafood: Best Places to Eat

Tangier Island is one of the best places on the Chesapeake Bay for fresh, local seafood. The restaurants on the island serve farm-to-table dishes made from the day’s catch. All-you-can-eat crab cakes are a specialty at places like Chesapeake House and Fisherman’s Corner.

Dining on Tangier Island is a celebration of the sea, whether you’re eating oysters, clams, or soft-shell crabs. Intimate, family-run eateries offer incredible food in a warm, welcoming environment.

2. Tangier’s Famous Crab Cakes: A Must-Try

Tangier Island’s crab cakes are legendary. In Tangier, the capital of soft-shell crabs, crab cakes are known for their quality and flavor. Fresh blue crabs are cooked into crab cakes using a blend of herbs and spices to enhance their natural sweetness.

Lightly breaded and perfectly cooked, they offer a taste sensation that’s both rich and delicate. Tangier is a culinary hotspot for crab cakes, which are considered a must-try dish by many visitors. In either form, Tangier’s crab cakes are a testament to the island’s culinary expertise.

Dive into History: Tangier’s Rich Heritage

Tangier Island offers an enriching experience steeped in historical significance. With its blend of Native American roots and European influences, Tangier’s rich heritage is a tapestry that reveals the evolution of American coastal life.

Tips: Explore the island on foot or rent a bike to experience its historic charm. Don’t forget to chat with the locals—they’re the living history of the island!

1. Tangier Island History Museum: A Journey Through Time

The Tangier Island History Museum is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. It houses artifacts, photographs, and documents that date back to the early 17th century.

  • Native American Era: Uncover the secrets of the original inhabitants.
  • Colonial Times: Trace the footprints of English explorers and settlers.
  • Modern History: Discover how Tangier played a role during the World Wars and its current preservation efforts.

Note: Admission fees are nominal, and guided tours are available for more in-depth experience. 

2. Watermen’s Tour: Understanding the Crabbing Industry

The Watermen’s Tour is a fascinating excursion into Tangier’s vibrant crabbing industry. Here’s why it’s a can’t-miss:

  • Learning Experience: See how crabs are caught, sorted, and prepared.
  • Meet the Watermen: Talk to local fishermen, whose families have been in the business for generations.
  • Fresh Seafood: Enjoy a meal made from crabs caught on the same day.

Tangier Island’s crabbing industry contributes to nearly 13% of Virginia’s total crab harvest.

Family-Friendly Attractions: Fun for All Ages

Tangier Island is not just a destination for history and seafood lovers; it’s a place where families can create memories together. With an array of activities suitable for children, teenagers, and adults, there’s never a dull moment on this captivating island.

1. Golf Cart Exploration: Safe Driving Experience for Teens

Navigating Tangier Island on a golf cart is not just convenient but also a unique and enjoyable experience. Teens can safely explore the island’s picturesque streets and hidden gems by driving under supervision.

  • Rent a Golf Cart: Various local businesses offer rental services.
  • Guided Tours: Opt for a guided tour to learn about key attractions.
  • Explore on Your Own: Get a map and make your adventure!

2. The Cat Population of Tangier: A Quirky Attraction

Believe it or not, the cats of Tangier Island have become an attraction in themselves! These feline friends can be spotted lounging around town, often striking photogenic poses.

  • Cat Watching: Enjoy observing the variety of cats and their unique personalities.
  • Cat History: Learn about how the cat population became a quirky characteristic of the island.
  • Photography Opportunity: Capture these adorable creatures in your vacation photos.

A visit to Tangier Island can be enhanced by the presence of 500 cats.

3. Tangier History Museum: Hands-On Learning Experience

While the Tangier Island History Museum offers deep insights into the island’s past for adults, it also provides hands-on learning experiences for children. Here’s what to expect:

  • Interactive Exhibits: Children can touch and explore artifacts.
  • Educational Workshops: Engaging workshops tailored for younger visitors.
  • Treasure Hunts: Organized scavenger hunts that make learning fun.
  • Family Programs: Special programs designed to engage the entire family.
Creative List of Must-See Exhibits
  • The Pirate’s Cove: Explore a replica of a pirate ship.
  • Time Travel Tunnel: Walk through different eras of Tangier history.
  • Art of the Sea: Participate in sea-inspired craft sessions.

Tangier Island offers a perfect blend of fun, learning, and adventure, making it a family-friendly destination. You can explore the island by golf cart, meet its quirky cats, and engage with history hands-on.

Best Time to Visit Tangier Island: A Personalized Guide

When it comes to visiting Tangier Island, timing can be everything. Your ideal time will depend on what you seek—whether it’s mild weather, open attractions, or aligning with the ferry schedule. Here’s a breakdown of what various sources suggest:

  • Summer Sojourn (May to August): Summer on Tangier Island offers pleasant temperatures, ranging from 61-72°F (16-22°C), especially enjoyable in May. But be warned, the progression of summer may lead to an increase in bugs and jellyfish.
  • Prime Time (Mid-April to Mid-October): Many attractions and services are open during this period. It encompasses the warmer months, ensuring a comfortable and vibrant experience.
  • Top Choice (May to July): Some travelers argue that the months from May to July are the golden window for visiting Tangier Island. Favorable weather and optimal travel conditions make this period particularly appealing.
  • Ferry Considerations: Your visit might hinge on the ferry schedule if that’s your chosen mode of transport. Running at 10 am and 5 pm daily and returning around 4:30 pm, aligning your plans with the ferry can maximize your island time.


  • Weather Watch: Keep an eye on the weather, especially if you prefer milder temperatures or want to avoid certain seasonal creatures.
  • Attractions and Accessibility: Check what’s open if you’re visiting outside of mid-April to mid-October to avoid disappointment.
  • Plan Around the Ferry: If arriving by ferry, make sure your itinerary aligns with the schedule for a seamless experience.

By considering these factors, you can tailor your visit to Tangier Island to your preferences, whether seeking the best weather, the most attractions, or just a well-timed ferry ride.


Q1: How do I get to Tangier Island? 

A: Tangier Island can be reached by taking a ferry or private boat from either the Virginia mainland or Maryland. The most common departure points are from Reedville, Virginia, or Crisfield, Maryland. It is recommended to check the ferry schedules and make reservations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Q2: Are there any accommodations available on Tangier Island? 

A: Yes, Tangier Island offers a few accommodations, including bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, and a couple of inns. Because accommodations can be limited during the summer months, it is advisable to book well in advance.

Q3: Can I bring my own bicycle or kayak to Tangier Island? 

A: Yes, you can bring a bicycle and kayak to Tangier Island. The island is bicycle-friendly, and kayaking is a popular activity. However, if you prefer not to bring your equipment, rentals are available on the island.

Q4: Are there any guided tours available on Tangier Island? 

A: Yes, Tangier Island offers guided tours, led by knowledgeable locals who can share insights into the island’s unique history, culture, and ecosystem. These tours often cover various points of interest, such as the island’s historic sites and crabbing/fishing experiences.

Q5: Can I camp on Tangier Island?

A: No, Tangier Island does not offer designated camping facilities or areas for visitors. Accommodations typically include bed-and-breakfasts, hotels, and vacation rentals. Always check with local authorities or tourism offices for the most up-to-date information on lodging options.

Q6: Is Tangier Island suitable for families with children? 

A: Yes, Tangier Island can be a great destination for families with children. The island’s small size and slow pace make it safe and manageable for families to explore together. The island’s nature also lends itself to crabbing, fishing, and wildlife watching for children.

Q7: How long should I plan to spend on Tangier Island? 

A: The duration of your stay on Tangier Island depends on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. You’ll be able to enjoy various activities and fully immerse yourself in the island’s atmosphere if you spend a night or two on the island.


Tangier Island, with its blend of history, nature, and community charm, is an undiscovered gem off the Virginia coast. The essence of the island lies not only in its family-friendly activities, local quirks, and travel tips but also in its friendly residents. The community’s connection to the sea, traditions, and each other adds an invaluable layer to the visitor’s experience. 

As a result of the diversity of activities on Tangier Island, it caters to history buffs, nature enthusiasts, families, and explorers alike. It is the combination of these facets that makes the island a unique and enriching destination, no matter when you choose to visit.