Island Access List

Chesapeake Bay Islands

This is not a comprehensive listing of the many marshy islands of the Chesapeake Bay; there are hundreds, most only grassy lumps barely identifiable as islands. It is only a summary of those where access questions seem of interest to the sailor; places were camping or beach walking would seem appealing.With the exceptions of US military islands (Pooles Island, Plumb island) there are no restrictions on paddling the shorelines.

From north to south....

Pooles Island.  U.S. Army property.  Closed with risk of un-exploded ordinance.

Hart-Miller Island. Hart Island and Miller Island were combined with some years ago by an Army Corps of Engineers dredging disposal project. When the project was complete, portion of the island was turned over to the Maryland Parks Department, and primitive camping (first-come, first-served), hiking, and swimming are available. 410-592-2897. Additional information is available at

Coaches Island and Jefferson Island. Private property. Closed.

Poplar Island. Army Corps of Engineers dredge spoil disposal project in progress. Very much like Hart-Miller Island, but will most likely remain closed as a wildlife management area when construction is complete. A photo essay:

Barren Island. Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  Closed to public visitation—Wildlife management area. Home of northern most brown pelican rookery. Access is permitted to the marsh in the north east corner (Tar Bay Wildlife Management Area) but not to the rest of the island.

Smith Island. A populated island with a large marsh to the north. Good access to the intersting areas. Please read this post.

Tangeir Island. A populated island with a large marsh to the north. Good access to the intersting areas. Please read this post.

Watts Island. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Closed to public visitation—Wildlife management area.

Great Fox Island / Little Fox Islands. Chesapeake Bay Foundation property, closed to visitation except for Foundation programs. Most have vanished since the last mapping.

James Island. Private ownership. Public use, including camping, is acceptable to the owner as long as no damage results. Please be respectful. This area is being studied for conversion into a dredge spoil project, like Poplar Island, so enjoy it while you can.

Janes Island /Janes Island State Park. Located on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, this Maryland State Park offers a variety of facilities, including primitive camping, cabins, a camp store and a boat ramp. 410-968-1565. More information is available at This island’s many coves and guts are best explored by kayak or small tender.

Somers Cove Marina is a convenient staging spot for exploring the Island. Fuel/gasoline, water, power, and ice are available, as is a pool; a very nice municipal marina. $1.50/foot including power. The fuel dock is open 7AM to 8PM. 410-968- 0925. The town of Crisfield is pretty limited, but the effort going into bring it back shows.

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I'd be happy to add entire descriptions, if you have an idea that fits. Just give a hint here and we'll swap e-mails.