With wild horses, wind-whipped beach grasses, and fresh crab imperial, the Eastern Shore of Virginia draws millions of visitors annually.
But in between the coves and bays of this idyllic stretch of Atlantic coastline, a few quieter beaches still remain—-including the most magical of all, Chincoteague, Virginia.
Are you a land-locked sea witch? Read on for a guide written with you in mind and plan to head to Chincoteague for your next magical adventure.
Chincoteague, Virginia and The Eastern Shore
The Eastern Shore makes up a large region stretching from Maryland to Virginia and including most of the state of Delaware in the Chesapeake area along the Delmarva Peninsula. Many beaches here, like the popular destination of Ocean City, Maryland, appeal to families looking for carnival-style boardwalk fun common to East Coast.
But for the traveler in search of the road less traveled, the island of Chincoteague awaits you.
Known for its colony of wild horses roaming the nearby island of Assateague, Chincoteague ranks highest on my list for its unspoiled beach and natural beauty along the Eastern Shore.
Billboards and advertising are prohibited in the wildlife refuge, making the beach there one of the most peaceful retreats on the entire Atlantic coast.
Chincoteague appeals to travels who like a quiet, chilled-out atmosphere and prefer to avoid the loud, drunken parties often associated with more populated, boardwalk-style coastal towns.
What to Do & See
Chincoteague offers a splendid array of magical experiences for the sea witch with the still waters of deep-diving spirit.
Take a painting class at Egret Moon Artworks. This business doesn’t have a website, but I linked the Facebook page and it’s definitely searchable on Google. The owner, Jamie, has a natural talent for bright colors and imaginative canvases. Best of all, she’s super pagan-friendly, and she teaches classes in painting during the high season. Your session comes with a glass of wine, so bottom’s up!
Go horseback riding. A number of tour companies offer trail rides, including (perhaps) the most well known, The Queen Hive Farm. Particularly fun for the witch with a horse as a familiar, or just a witch who fantasizes about owning a horse familiar.
If horse back riding isn’t your thing, at least try to catch a glimpse of the wild beauties roaming Assateague—-although they sometimes seem charmingly shy and prefer elusiveness.
Personally, I only own wide and portrait lenses, and in all the years I’ve been going to Chincoteague, the ponies never get close enough for me to capture a good shot, but here they are at a considerable distance, so they do exist!
Rent a bike. The Bike Depot is the closest bike rental shop to the beach, and they have a variety of cool options. My husband and I rented a tandem bike once and it made for one of the most romantic dates ever!
Do a ritual on the beach. For those of you who feel shy about solitary rituals on the beach, Chincoteague often feels quiet enough to get a little privacy, even during the high season.
(Say high to my witchy friend, Emily! You may remember her from my Modern Witch’s Guide to Salem, Massachusetts! Thanks for letting me take these shots of you on the Eastern Shore in OC!)
For some creative ritual ideas, check out Sea Witch: Harnessing the Power of the Ocean.
If even this feels too public, try a ritual on the balcony of your hotel or lodging option, and discreetly toss biodegradable spell components in the ocean, or write a wish on a seashell and release it to the tides.
Check out the lighthouse. Assateague island features a lovely trail leading to the lighthouse, which is open to the public and easily accessible during the daylight hours. It remains an active lighthouse, and at night, the light from it shines visibly in the moonlight.
Head to the farmer’s market. Every time I visit, the Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market always seems to feature something unique. Last time, a line snaked from a booth selling homemade, all natural bug spray (oh, yeah—one infamous downside to this island’s marshlands is the abundance of mosquitoes!)
Where to Stay
The Island Manor House. This charming bed-and-breakfast features a historic home in the heart of town. Perfect for honeymooners, ghost hunters and the sea witch with a penchant for authentic lodging.
KOA Campgrounds. During the high season, even the campgrounds aren’t cheap. But they do offer a slightly more economical lodging option for the budget-bound traveler. The Chincoteague Island KOA on Maddox is the closest to the beach. Be prepared for mosquitoes!
Ariel’s Grotto. A super pretty residential rental within biking distance of the beach and park. A nice options for families.
Best Western. Sigh. If you absolutely must stay at a corporate chain hotel (please don’t—it just kills the local experience), at least this Best Western is extremely well-located, with a view of the lighthouse and the closest access to the wildlife refuge.
Where to Eat & Drink
On the Eastern Shore in general, it’s not so much about where you eat as what you eat, and when you eat it. If crabs are in season, it’s hard to find bad ones. But for some specific ideas on the Island of Chincoteague, I listed a few suggestions.
Don’s Seafood. This bayside restaurant features casual fine dining and a beautiful sunset view. Take the server’s suggestion and choose the freshest in-season option on the menu.
Right Up Your Alley. I get it. Not everyone who travels to the beach eats seafood! For a casual, barefoot-in-a-bikini taco experience, check out Right Up Your Alley on Mainstreet. Super fresh and made-to-order right in front of you, this drop-in dining option appeals to the beach bum foodie in us all.
Poseidon’s Pantry. The name says it all. It doesn’t get any more pagan than that!! This deli and grocery makes an ideal stop if you plan to cook on your own, are searching for natural, organic options or just want to patronize a local grocer with responsible sourcing in mind.
Sea Star Cafe. This casual dining option offers a healthful alternative. No fried foods or junk here. The menu boasts light, delicious, fresh items for the health-and-flavor conscious.
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