This is part 1 of a 2 part series on cruising in the Chesapeake Bay. Check out part 2 on the area around Annapolis and the northern side of the Bay
The Chesapeake Bay watershed is an excellent and beautiful place to cruise on your next trip. The bay is roughly 4500 square miles of brackish water, with many rivers flowing into the estuary, mixing with the Atlantic at the mouth of the bay to the southeast. While the bay can be very shallow in its rivers and inlets and around some sandy islands, it’s also 20+ miles wide in spots, and easy to sail or motor across in a single day.
We wanted to highlight some of our favorite spots to visit in the Chesapeake, and especially if you’re heading north back up the ICW this spring, heading up the Chesapeake for the start of blue crab season in April is definitely a serious consideration.
1. Tangier Island
Going to Tangier Island is like going back in time.
The island is a sandy group of land in the southern part of the bay, across the state line in Virginia. Tangier is home to a large group of fishermen who have fished the Chesapeake waters for crab and oysters for generations. Sadly, due to sea level rising and erosion, the island is slowly disappearing, so now is the time to experience a sunset from Tangier Island. If you go, keep in mind that the island is dry, and there isn’t a ton to do activities-wise, but it’s a great place to relax, read a book and take it all in.
Where to dock: Park’s Marina
Don’t miss: Crab cakes at Fisherman’s Corner Restaurant
2. Smith Island
Just to the north of Tangier, Smith Island is another small fishing village that doesn’t offer much more than a few restaurants, shops and B&B’s, but the antiquated, “off-the-grid" nature of the island is a great change of pace and totally relaxing. Again, there aren’t a lot of manufactured activities on the island, but it’s great for relaxing and exploring in a gorgeous settings. There is a ferry that takes tourists to and from Smith Island, so it can get a little more crowded in the summer months. If you go, don’t miss the famous “smith island cake"
Where to dock: Smith Island Marina
Don’t miss: Smith Island Baking Co.
3. Point Lookout
Point Lookout is a state park at the end of the end of the peninsula formed by the Chesapeake and Potomac River on the western shore of Maryland. The park includes a civil war memorial, as it is known for the location of a POW camp, which imprisoned as many as 52,264 Confederate soldiers during the civil war. There is also a famous lighthouse at Point Lookout built in 1830. The park is a great place for walks down to Point Lookout Creek as well as camping and fishing. The lighthouse is located at the end of the peninsula on the southern tip of Maryland’s western shore.
Where to dock: Point Lookout Marina
Don’t miss: Point Lookout Lighthouse
4. Calvert County: Solomans, Johnstown and Calvert Cliffs State Park
This area of the western shore of Maryland is known for its natural beauty and history. One of the oldest screw-pile lighthouses, Drum Point Light is located (rather, has been re-located) at the Calvert Marine Museum in Johnstown. While you’re in the area, Solomans Island features some great bars and restaurants where you can get a sampling of the local crab. Also in the area is Calvert Cliffs State Park, which extends for miles along the north side of the peninsula. The park is known for being full of awesome fossils, including the ancient Megalodon shark which was found a few years back. There is also a beach and walking trails in the park.
Where to dock: Calvert Marina
Don’t miss: Fossil Hunting in Calvert Cliffs State Park
We'll explore the northern part of the bay in our next post, so check back soon!
Image credit: Chesapeakeexplorer.net
By: Adrian Mott
Published on 1/19/16 8:30 AM