Things to do / Travel Guide
Breathe in the intoxicating seabreeze-air, watch the sun sink toward the infinite horizon after a summer day's play, visit shorebirds and wild horses on their waterfront homes, and ply the same waters as Blackbeard the pirate and the nation's founding fathers. Pleasure boating in eastern North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland is just about as good as it gets.
Pleasure Boating on the Delmarva Peninsula
Rent a sunfish, catamaran, or daysailer in Dewey Beach, Delaware and explore the calm waters of Rehoboth Bay or the wide, open Atlantic Ocean. Pontoon boat and sailboat rentals in Ocean City, Maryland offer the opportunity to tour the Isle of Wight Bay or the coastline of Assateague National Seashore and then spill out, with its waters, into the Atlantic Ocean. On Chincoteague Island, Virginia, you can rent a small motorboat, skiff, or pontoon boat to navigate the periphery of Chincoteague Island, chug through the waters of Chincoteague Bay, or negotiate the Assateague Channel.
If you prefer to sit back, relax, and let someone else take the wheel, there are sunset cruises and island and bay tours, as well as eco-cruises with a bird watching, wildlife observation, or salt marsh and barrier island educational spin. Try companies with boats leaving regularly from the harbors of Chincoteague Island, Exmore, or Cape Charles, Virginia. Cruises to the idyllic, Chesapeake Bay fishing villages of Tangier Island leave from Buzzards Point Marina in Reedville, also in Virginia.
Eastern Virginia Pleasure Boating
For hundreds of years, navigating the James River has been a favorite pleasure boating excursion near Richmond. Pass by sprawling plantation mansions perched on the high riverbanks, cruise by shore and migratory birds nestled in the trees. Rent a friendly pontoon boat at Jordan Point, near Hopewell, and zigzag the James River's meandering path toward the sea all the way to Newport News or Norfolk, in Virginia.
You can rent a motorboat, fishing boat, or sailboat in Norfolk and sail up the James River toward Richmond. You can also choose to use Norfolk as a shoving off point to sail north, weaving in and out of the complex coastline of the Chesapeake Bay, or sail around the bend toward Virginia Beach. Many boaters enjoy the route between the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area and Cape Charles, Virginia, on the Delmarva Peninsula. Boat rentals of all shapes and sizes are also available in Virginia Beach.
You can also choose to try one of Virginia's guided boating excursions. Plenty of tall ships, riverboats, and paddlewheel boat tours and cruises are available. Historic canal cruises up the James River are perhaps the best way to learn about Richmond's past and future. Norfolk predictably offers the gamut of cruises on the Hamptons Roads' historical harbor, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Elizabeth River. Norfolk cruises usually leave from various locations along the waterfront.
North Carolina Shore Pleasure Boating
Once one of the fiercest and most feared pirates in the U.S., Blackbeard decided to set up his pirating, pilfering, and pillaging operations along the North Carolina shore, as boats have always plied these waters by the thousands. Boating culture is nearly synonymous with the area. Because the only way to get to several areas of the Outer Banks is via ferry, and because many locals and visitors prefer to go at it alone, boat rentals are available throughout North Carolina shore. Among the many communities offering a wide range of watercraft, fishing boats, and sailboats are Edenton, Wilmington, Elizabethtown, Stella, Carolina Beach, Salter Path, Kitty Hawk, Beaufort, Atlantic Beach, and Wrightsville Beach.
Beaufort is a wonderful starting place for a day or afternoon of pleasure boating. There are many small, interesting islands nearby, around which you can sail. Carrot Island offers wonderful waterfront bird watching, and at Shackleford Banks, along the Cape Lookout National Seashore, you can watch wild ponies roam. Between Fort Macon State Park and Shackleford Banks lies the shipwreck believed to be Blackbeard's “Queen Anne's Revenge.” Continue on a southwest path around the periphery of Shackleford Banks toward Cape Lookout for a great view of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse.
Guided pleasure boating excursions on this Graveyard of the Atlantic are also available. You can take historic or sightseeing tours along the Pasquotank River, leaving from Waterfront Park in Elizabeth City. Steamboats and riverboats with historic narration (and lunch or dinner service) ply the Cape Fear River and Black River, and will give you a taste of Southern history, wildlife, and hospitality. Boats leave from Dock and South Water Streets in Wilmington. Local ferries between Ocracoke and Hatteras, Currituck and Knott's Island, and Cedar Island and Ocracoke will also give you a chance to get out on the water and get a feel for the geography.