Tangier Island: At a visitor’s glance

TANGIER, Va. — Tangier Island, Virginia … Population: 460 (and shrinking).

The island is vanishing, but the reason why depends on who you ask. The fact remains: It could become uninhabitable in as little as 25 years.

In a five-part podcast series, WTOP reporter Michelle Basch travels to Tangier to meet the people who call it home and find out what’s really happening.

The gallery below shows Tangier at a visitor’s glance: how to get there, where to stay and what you may see as a tourist.

Listen to the podcasts on our website or on iTunes and Podcast One.



Despite what this sign says, author Earl Swift writes in his recently published book "Chesapeake Requiem" that the first confirmed white settlers didn't arrive on Tangier Island until 1778. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Despite what this sign says, author Earl Swift writes in his recently published book “Chesapeake Requiem” that the first confirmed white settlers didn’t arrive on Tangier Island until 1778.

Tangier island is known as the soft shell crab capital of the world, and its watermen catch more blue crabs than those in any other town around the Chesapeake Bay.

The Courtney Thomas, better known as the “mailboat,” travels regularly between Tangier Island, Virginia, and Crisfield, Maryland. It’s the boat most locals use to get to the mainland where they go shopping, see doctors and visit relatives.

PHOTOS| Life on Tangier Island

Many Tangier Island residents go shopping in Crisfield, and then haul their stuff back to the island aboard the Courtney Thomas.

The indoor seating area of the Courtney Thomas. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The indoor seating area of the Courtney Thomas.

Main Ridge Road in Tangier is the island’s “main drag.”

A tour of Tangier’s Main Ridge via a golf cart, which is the island’s preferred form of transportation. Cars are rare on Tangier. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
This is where WTOP Reporter Michelle Basch stayed while visiting Tangier, at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House. A second house across the street that’s part of the same bed and breakfast includes large dining rooms, where guests and visitors enjoy all-you-can-eat meals.

The common area downstairs at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House. The bed and breakfast’s main house across the street has more rooms, as well as large dining rooms.

Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House is up for sale. Asking price: $299,000.

WTOP Reporter Michelle Basch’s room at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House, a comfy bed and breakfast.

The main part of Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House, which includes the restaurant.

One of the dining rooms at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House, known for family-style, all-you-can-eat meals. Lunch or dinner includes homemade crab cakes, fried clam fritters, Virginia baked ham, and a homemade pound cake you should save room for!

You see homes of all kinds on Tangier Island. Some are well kept, others look run down, and a few are clearly vacant.

Visitors may find it strange to see graves outside of cemeteries, but this sign explains their practicality.

The yards of homes on Tangier Island are typically small, but some contain graves of family members. This yard had many.

Tangier’s tallest landmark, its water tower, stands not far from a cemetery.

Tangier’s water tower is painted with both a crab and a cross.

Tangier Island has many stray cats. Take a walk and you’ll likely see at least one. These two appeared to be buddies.

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Despite what this sign says, author Earl Swift writes in his recently published book "Chesapeake Requiem" that the first confirmed white settlers didn't arrive on Tangier Island until 1778. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The indoor seating area of the Courtney Thomas. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

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