Find Yours Amid A Trio Of Eastern Shore Paddling Pleasures With Wild Ponies, Clamming, And A Waterfront Winery
A “typical” kayak scenario on Virginia’s Eastern Shore is following a summer breeze through miles of emerald green marsh, alive with the angelic wings of snowy egrets and soaring eagles.
You can play in this pristine setting with themed kayak tours suited for both newbies and enthusiasts. With 15 years of Shore tides under their hull, SouthEast Expeditions has designed three distinct guided tours to help you find your karma on the currents.
KAYAK WINERY TOUR
Paddle Personality: Wine lovers who want to paddle their glass off
For wine connoisseurs, it is the perfect “dangling the carrot” motivation, centering a kayak excursion on a wine tasting where you actually land at the winery. Billed as the county’s only authentic Kayak Winery Tour, uncork memories as you paddle a bay creek with panoramic views of farmland and forests. Unspoiled coastal coves teeming with wildlife enthrall as your compass is set on Chatham Vineyards. Located on land patented in 1640, the dock offers a view of Chatham, a stately Federal-period brick house named after William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham.
Once at the vineyard enjoy the journey from vine to wine culminating in a tasting of Chatham’s award-winning vinos: two Chardonnays—steel fermented and an oak blend, along with a Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Dessert Wine and the Vintner’s Blend. Pick your favorite and take home a bottle as part of the tour package.
On your return trip glide the tranquil waterway and observe a massive blue heron rookery on a minute island. To round out your excellent adventure, 20 minutes south of the launch site, savor fine dining at the historic Eastville Inn. Its wine list includes Chatham selections, and the menu serves up local seafood.
Paddle Peeps: This tour is popular with couples of all ages, girls’ getaway weekends, and bridal parties.
PADDLE WITH THE PONIES
Paddle Personality: For collectors of National Geographic moments
The romance of the wild Chincoteague Ponies has lured people for nearly a century to their namesake island and sister isle of Assateague, home to both the ponies and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The 1947 book Misty of Chincoteague made the ponies international superstars. Kayaking is an entertaining way to search for these sentimental favorites, while exploring a unique ecosystem.
With the backdrop of the iconic candy-cane stripped Assateague Lighthouse, the two-hour tour meanders through lush marsh and the winding narrows that separate the islands. A splash signals the plummeting dive of an osprey. Spindle-legged egrets and herons stalk the shallows for their next meal. Around the bend, terns call with a harsh “kee-arrr” as they dart about the water’s edge. Not surprising it is a whirlwind of wings, since the refuge and nearby areas shelter 90 species of birds. Your guide’s intimate knowledge of the natural wonders makes this trip a winner regardless if you see Misty’s heirs. If you do, chances are they are just a few feet away munching on saltmarsh cordgrass.
A prelude or postscript to the tour is a visit to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center. Engaging displays will immerse you even further on local flora and fauna.
Paddle Peeps: We are talking ponies here. Leaving your kids home would be criminal. [Children under 12 are half price.]
KAYAK CLAMMING TOUR
Paddle Personality: Seafood foodies with dash of hunter-gatherer
It is the “You Pick Farm” of the tides. If the thought of steaming up fresh, succulent clams makes your mouth water, it’s time to get on the water and dig for your dinner. The Eastern Shore is a virtual “Clam Capital,” a $50 million business on the lower peninsula alone.
Paddling the productive waters of Cherrystone Creek and a family owned clam farm, learn the intricate process of growing, caring for, and harvesting clams. Discover how well this type of aquaculture integrates with the natural environment.
Then the dirty fun begins as you hop out of your boat and play in the mud. Learn the tricks of the trade, until you are clamming like generations of Eastern Shore folks. Keep your first dozen, as part of the trip. The rest are sold to you at market value after returning to the launch site to wash and count your bounty.
Paddle Peeps: Load up foodie friends even if they aren’t avid kayakers. There is plenty to pique everyone’s interest.
All tours begin with a brief kayak clinic. Prices range from $45 to $85 with discounts for children where applicable.
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