Have you ever wanted to go on vacation and truly get away from it all? Somewhere where work, dishes, and laundry can’t fine you? Tangier Island is that Place.
Accessible only by boat, Tangier Island is a lost in time island off the coast of Virginia in the Chesapeake Bay that is filled with charm and character. The island is actually a quaint little fishing village filled with marshes that house abandoned boats and crab pots. It is home to a little over 700 residents and most of them make their living as watermen in the crabbing industry. The people there are absolutely wonderful. Being that the island is isolated from the mainland, they have their own Elizabethan dialect and it is lovely.
The best part of Tangier is the story behind it. The island is disappearing due to erosion. There are indications that in the 1800’s, Tangier encompassed a little over 2000 acres and was home to a variety of plant life, watermelon farms, and grazing cows. Since that time about 67% of their landmass has disappeared underwater leaving the island only 1.2 square miles. The island is eroding a way a little more every year and according to residents, Tangier is expected to be inhabitable in less than 50 years from now . Just like the Uppards. The Uppards were a part of Tangier’s north end that was abandoned in the 1920’s due erosion leaving the island unlivable. You can take a boat to the Uppards but sadly, there are no remaining signs that humans ever lived there other than one old and dilapidated trailer that is partly underwater. I do hear it is a great place to look for arrowheads though.
What is happening to Tangier is a serious problem. The mayor is working tirelessly with the Army Corps of Engineers to build a seawall, which is the only hope for saving the island, but the government is hesitant due to the low number of residents. (If you are interested in adding to the efforts to save Tangier, you can take action now.)
Tangier makes a great getaway because it truly is a getaway. There is no cell service and extremely limited wifi on the island making communicating with the “outside world” very difficult.
There is also nothing to do there. No movie theater, no shopping mall, no bowling alley, no Starbucks…nothing. There is however one neighborhood style grocery store and one restaurant, although I’ve heard there are actually two or three places to eat if you visit in the summer. And cats. Cats are everywhere. But that’s okay, who doesn’t love cats! There are also only like two cars on the island but it’s not a big deal. The island is only 1.2 square miles wide. In fact, you can pretty much walk around the entire island in 10 minutes.
Robby and I are afforded the opportunity to experience many different places through filming On the Map. We also travel a lot outside of the show. Out of all the destinations we have visited, Tangier Island is probably my favorite. And that’s saying a lot considering I’m the girl that likes the fancy hotels and the five star restaurants and having a Starbucks on every corner.
We visited Tangier in April before their “tourist” season begins. The only way to get there was via the mail boat which visits the island twice a day. We had an idea of what we were getting into but we were certainly not prepared. Upon arriving, it took us about 10 minutes to realize there is no cell service and no wifi. We were there for about a week and the first two days were what I like to call our adjustment period. With nothing to do and no contact with anyone outside of the island, we were getting pretty lonely and growing tired of chicken fingers from Lorraine’s, the only restaurant open on Tangier. By the third day, it got better. We actually started enjoying the island. It was so relaxing and peaceful. We spent our days going out on the boat with the mayor and walking on the beach, which is nothing like any beach you have ever been to. We also went to the grocery store every day for spaghettios and little boxes of cereal, which is what we lived off of for the week, but also to see if the food boat had come because I really wanted plain m&m’s. (Quick fact: the food boat comes on Thursdays.) By the time Friday rolled around, it was time for us to leave and there was nothing we wanted to do less. We were really enjoying this peaceful, laid back lifestyle.
Most people have never heard of this little island in the Chesapeake Bay but for those who have, it sparks a lot of intrigue.
The majority of Tangier visitors visit during the summer for a day trip but I believe it is much better to go during the off season and stay for a week (FYI: there are no hotels and the Bay View Inn, which is great, is the only B&B open year round.) You will absolutely love it!