The southernmost town on the Eastern Shore, Cape Charles, is located near the tip of the DelMarVa Peninsula and the eastern entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. First developed in the 1880s and a bustling railroad town through the 1950s, Cape Charles has experienced a renaissance in recent years. Its historic buildings now house restaurants, shops, and an old-fashioned soda fountain. Rocking chairs adorning the front porches of several stores invite a slower pace and conversation with locals. The sunsets, scenic marinas, beautiful public beach, and more bring boaters back to enjoy the welcoming atmosphere.
The LOVEwork reflects the history and community of Cape Charles. The "L" is made of sea glass and seashells to represent the Bayside community. The "O" is a tractor tire to represent agriculture. The "V" is made of kayaks to represent outdoor adventure activities and the "E" is made of crab pots to represent aquaculture.
Deep-water slips and a short walk to the historic town makes Cape Charles Town Harbor an attractive option for transient boaters, who from their slips may watch watermen haul in and off-load their daily catches of blue crabs, horse shoe crabs, conchs, fish, clams, sharks, and scallops. Having The Shanty restaurant on site is an added bonus for those who enjoy happy hour, live music, and seafood.
Beyond the Town Harbor, you’ll find the newest yachting facility in the area, the Cape Charles Yacht Center, which will provide full service to superyachts, as well as vessels of all sizes, and offer access to all Bay Creek Resort amenities, including two golf courses. A state-of-the-art yacht facility, the Oyster Farm Marina on King’s Creek, boasts 124 slips from 35 to 70 feet and dockage for boats up to 150 feet. The 39-acre facility includes a Seafood Eatery, events center with villa accommodations, year-round golf, and charter fishing, and other activities. The Oyster Farm’s C Pier is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights through October if you like live music, steamed seafood, and fun cocktails (such as the Dockarita).
Ramp it up
If you come by car, trailering your boat, at the Cape Charles Town Harbor you’ll find a free public boat ramp. There’s another one at Kiptopeke State Park (there’s a separate launch for kayaks, so look for signage).
Go to the Beach
Kiptopeke State Park offers two unguarded beaches on the Chesapeake Bay. The northern swim beach is nearly half a mile long and open from Memorial Day to Labor Day (no pets, fishing, jet skis, canoes, kayaks, or other boats). The south beach is open to swimming, fishing, crabbing, boating, and pets kept on a leash.
The Cape Charles Town Beach is located along Bay Avenue with beach access at the end of every block. It’s the only public beach on the Eastern Shore of Virginia that does not require an entrance or parking fee. Those staying at the Oyster Farm or dining at its Seafood Eatery may use the private beach there.
Adjacent to the public beach at the southern end you will find Cape Charles Fishing Pier. The town of Cape Charles has a saltwater fishing license for the pier, so the general public is not required to have an individual saltwater fishing license in order to go crabbing or fishing.
Cape Charles is near two wildlife refuges: the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge (1123 acres and pet-friendly) at the tip of the DelMarVa Peninsula. Birdwatchers know to show up in the fall, as songbirds and raptors “funnel” there for the southern migration.
The Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge (2000 acres) is located on the southernmost of the DelMarVa barrier island chain at the Bay’s entrance. Because of the critical nature of its habitats, it’s closed to the public. Guided tours are offered from October through February to learn about the unique diversity of wildlife, wildlife management, and the history of the place during World War II.
Those traveling with pets may walk the trails at Kiptopeke State Park (562 acres). The nearby Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve in Eastville is also pet-friendly (it’s 12 miles north by car; half that by boat).
A favorite event for boaters is the Shuck-n-Suck, slated this year August 3-5 at the Oyster Farm at Kings Creek. Visitors can expect live music all weekend, a steamed clam eating contest, a shuck-n-suck oyster contest, Smith Island Crab Skiff Races, the Chesapeake Cowboys extreme boat-docking contest, and fireworks.
Savor the sunset
You might want to visit the Cape Charles Museum and Welcome Center (located in a former power plant at 814 Randolph Avenue), wander the shops at Mason Avenue and Strawberry Street, or enjoy a craft beer at Kelly’s Gingernut Pub, among other activities in this revitalized town. As the day ends, being boaters on the Eastern Shore, you’ll want to be well-positioned to see the big event: the sunset. Enjoy! For more on Cape Charles, click to the Eastern Shore Tourism Commission.