Virginia's barrier islands are owned by public and private agencies. Many islands are seasonally closed to protect beach nesting birds. When planning your trip, please consult the barrier island visitation policies provided on this page. Use the link from the map below or go directly to the policies at the bottom of this page.
Who Owns Virginia's Barrier Islands?
Visitation policies for Virginia's Barrier Islands and Wildlife Areas
Assateague Island Visitation Policies (Virginia section)
Owner: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Boat access is variable according to location and season.
Call Assateague Island National Seashore at 757-336-6577 and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge at 757-336-6122 for more information.
Wallops Island Visitation Policies
Closed to the public year round. Boats may pass through using the marked channel.
Assawoman Island, Northern End of Metompkin Island
Owner: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Assawoman Island: Closed year round except for seasonal boat and fishing access on the southern tip at Gargathy Inlet.
Northern End of Metimpkin Island: open to the public for low-impact, recreational day use, such as hiking, bird watching, fishing and photography.
Call Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge at 757-336-6122 for more information about ownership of area on Cedar Island and applicable visitation policies.
Metompkin (southern portion), Cedar (portions), Parramore, Revel, Hog, Cobb, Little Cobb, Ship Shoal, Myrtle and Smith Islands
Owner: The Nature Conservancy, managed by the TNC Virginia Coast Reserve
PETS, MOTORIZED VEHICLES, CAMPING AND CAMPFIRES ARE PROHIBITED AT ALL TIMES ON ALL ISLANDS.
Islands open for day use: Hog, Cobb, Myrtle, Smith, Sandy, Rogue, Godwin and Mink Islands, Dawson Shoals and the TNC owned portions of Metompkin and Cedar Islands are open to the public for low-impact, recreational day use, such as hiking, bird watching, fishing and photography. To confirm coordinates and TNC ownership of specific portions of Metompkin and Cedar islands, please call (757) 442-3049.
If visiting these islands from April 15-September 1:
Please help protect nesting birds…
- Remain at the water’s edge at all times to avoid bird nesting habitat.
- Respect posted bird nesting areas.
Island Closures: Parramore, Little Cobb, Ship Shoal and Revels Islands are CLOSED to visitor use at all times for scientific research and safety reasons.
- Call the Virginia Coast Reserve office at (757) 442-3049 for more information.
Fisherman and Skidmore Islands, Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge Visitation Policies
Owner: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fisherman Island
Fisherman and Skidmore Islands -
- Fisherman and Skidmore Islands are closed to the public. This includes beach areas.
Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge -
- The southern tip of Raccoon Island in the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge is currently open to public use from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
- All other "beach" areas on the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge are closed to the public.
- Marsh areas within the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge are open to kayaking/canoeing from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. These areas are tidally influenced so boaters are cautioned to be aware of tide cycles.
- Federal, state, and local laws apply.
- Call the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge at (757) 331-2760 for more information.
Wreck Island Visitation Policies
Owner: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
- DO NOT land on the north side of the island at any time.
- Island closed to public visitation during bird nesting season: April 15 - August 31.
- Open the rest of the year for day use, including birding, wildlife-watching, native plant observation, photography, beachcombing, fishing by permit only.
- Swimming is discouraged.
- There are no docks or other public facilities.
Prohibited activities: Camping, motorized vehicles, unleashed pets, collection of plants, animals, minerals or artifacts (shell collecting is fine), digging, fires, hunting, alcoholic beverages.
Call Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) at 757-787-5576 for more information.
Mockhorn Island Visitation Policies
Owner: Virginia Department of Game and Island Fisheries
- Open to the public, including primitive camping.
Call Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) at 757-787-5911 for more information.
For comments or questions concerning this program's web pages, contact Virginia Witmer.
This website is provided by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program through a Coastal Zone Management Act grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce.