Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's Always Island Time on Tangier Island

As a high-octane person, I find it hard to slow down. But I had no choice when I took the ferry to Tangier Island, Virginia. After all, there are no daily newspapers, no magazines, no nightspots and no alcohol. (The community boasts strong religious roots.) But in this the world's soft-shell crab capital, I found plenty of small, otherwise forgotten pleasures with a few curiosities thrown in for good measure.

Interesting facts:

• Forget the car. The way to get around the island with its narrow lanes is by renting a golf cart or a bicycle or by walking.

• Most men have been watermen, harvesting hard- or soft-shell crabs.

• The citizens have a cockney-ish accent with some curious slang. ("You're too soon" translates to "you're late.")

• Kids catch crabs using string dangling from the bridges with chicken bones as bait.

This is how I'd spend a long three-day weekend:

1. The recently opened Tangier History Museum provides a window into the island's life, including Tangier's key role in the War of 1812.

2. Take out a kayak or canoe and paddle along the several water trails that course from the harbor past crab sheds, through marshes and the network of channels that slice the island. Take the yellow trail and you'll find a pristine strip of sand, perfect for beaching your beaching your boat and discovering Native American arrowheads.

3. The new self-guided history walk highlights dozens of sites, such as the old jail and family tombstones that occupy many front yards.

4. Sign up for the Honorary Waterman's Tour. You'll spend the day with watermen aboard traditional boats catching hard-shell and peeler crabs.

5. Rent a bicycle and pedal the network of paved and unpaved roads to explore the island's nooks and crannies.

6. Fuel up at Spanky’s, a 50s-style ice cream parlor on Main Street.

7. Walk along a long stretch of sandy beach or simply take in the sun in a very low-key atmosphere.

8. Watch the sunset from the island's stone jetty along with many locals.

9. Have lunch at the Chesapeake House that serves family-style meals on long tables piled with clam fritters and corn pudding.

But another great dining spot for all things crabby is the Fisherman's Corner. Try the soft-shell tidbits and the creamy bisque.

10. Choose one of a handful of inns, such as the Bay View and plop yourself on a rocking chair on the front porch and listen to the silence/


Lyn said...

Very nice blog. I've never heard of this part of the country.
Lyn Harris

J The Travel Authority said...

Hi Lyn, Thanks so much. Yes, the Chesapeake Bay area is dotted with islands and inlets. It's a lovely area for boating and eating some great seafood.

red canvas said...

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