Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island Visitor Services
Assateague Wild Horses
FAQ

Assateague Ponies and more...
Frequently Asked Questions
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1. Q. What is the best way to see Assateague wild ponies?

A. The best way to see the wild ponies is to take a wildlife voyage by boat along Assateague's inland waterway . Herds of wild horses frequent miles of shoreline where pine forests, marsh lands, and bay habitats meet. The Virginia part of Assateague has a series of fences that are in place to keep the wild horses away from roadways and back in the pine forests and marsh lands where they pose less of a threat to automobiles and themselves. A boat can easily cover lot's of terrain and often provides the best means of search.

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2. Q. Where can I go fishing or sightseeing?

A. Great Flounder fishing and other sporfishing charters can be found at Chincoteague and Ocean City. A number of good charter boat operations will take you to the fish. With a knowledgeable guide, many areas around Assateague can be targeted in hopes of adding fresh fish to the dinner table. If you go it alone, try the areas around the inlets or the surf, but keep in mind the tides, current, and wind. Chincoteague has many places to choose from, some of which include the Assateague Channel near the Assateague Lighthouse, Four Mouths, Queen Sound, and Fishermen's Point. The famous Assateague Ponies can be seen along the shoreline of Assateague's back waters while on sightseeing excursions leaving from Chincoteague Island or Ocean City. Chincoteague's boat voyages take you along the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the waters where you can peek into this extraordinary eco system. Assateague has over 37 miles of inshore coastline that can reveal an abundance of birdlife & marine life by boat.

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3. Q. Can visitors enter and climb to the top of the Assateague Lighthouse?

A. The Assateague Lighthouse is now available for visitor entry every Fridy thru Sunday from Easter weekend to Thanksgiving weekend. You can climb the inner circular staircase to the top and experience views of Chincoteague and Assateague. Admission fees required.

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4. Q. What do I need to know about four wheel drive recreation on the beach?

A. An over-sand vehicle annual permit ($70-$150) and certain required safety equipment such as a shovel, board, tow rope, and other gear is needed. A portion of the southern tip of Assateague is "off limits" during some months due to the fragile piping plover nesting grounds.

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5. Q. What kind of lodging is available in Ocean City, Maryland and Chincoteague, Virginia?

A. Ocean City, Maryland and Chincoteague Island, Virginia are located within a few minutes drive of each entrance to Assateague. Each has hotels, condos, beach houses or cottages, and fine campground accommodations for vacation needs while traveling to Assateague. See: www.assateagueisland.com for further details.

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6. Q. What kind of fish can we catch?

A. The fertile waters around Assateague Island contain many great sportfish for the fishing enthusiast, especially during the spring, summer, and fall months. Flounder are fantastic gamefish for family fishing, especially around Chincoteague Island, Virginia with it's many bays, creeks, channels, and easy access to the ocean inlet. Go with a fishing guide service and chances are good you'll have flounder and other fish wrestling at the end of your line. Many good sized trophy fish such as red drum, striped bass, Blue fish and more are caught off the beaches of Assateague while surf fishing at the right times. During mid- summer, you'll be sure to find tasty croakers in large schools; gray trout, speckled trout, Spanish and king mackerel, black drum and others waiting to be reeled in.

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7. Q. How much does it cost to enter the Assateague National Park and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge?

A. Vehicle entrance fees are $10 per 7 days or $15-$20 annually. A Duck stamp ($15.00) is also a valid annual pass at Chincoteague NWR and other National Wildlife Refuges. You can also use a National Parks Pass. See the Visit the Park page for more info.

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8. Q. What are some of the best areas for bird watching?

A. It depends on what you want to see. A diverse species of shorebirds (including the piping plover) are numerous on Assateague's beaches. Chincoteague NWR provides sanctuary at it's fresh water impoundment's for annual migrations of waterfowl in large concentrations during the fall. Be sure to take a wildlife excursion by boat along the miles of accessible inland waters that parallel Assateague and reveal a hidden treasure of bird life and marinelife. Birders sometimes encounter bald eagle plus a variety of terns and other species along Assateague's shoreline while traveling by boat.

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9. Q. When is the Chincoteague Wild Pony Swim?

A. The Annual Chincoteague Wild Pony Swim occurs on the last Wednesday or Thursday of each July. After a few days of resting and an auction at Chincoteague, the ponies swim back across the Assateague Channel.

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10. Q. What is the citation size for flounder in Virginia? What is the minimum "keeper size"?

A. A citation Flounder weighs 6 lbs. and the minimum "keeper size" is 15 and a half inches.

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11. Q. With so many waterfowl on Assateague during the winter, are there many good hunting areas nearby?

A. The inland waters near Assateague Island provide some of the best waterfowl hunting opportunities in the United States. A long time destination for huge concentrations of migrating waterfowl along the Atlantic flyway, Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague NWR provide protection to a great variety of waterfowl species. As a result, hunting recreation is fantastic near it's boundaries at many areas in Chincoteague Bay. With an experienced Chincoteague hunting guide, you can expect to see large numbers of widgeon, gadwalls, mallards, pintails, teal, black ducks, snow geese, canada geese, swan, old squaw and many other diving ducks while hunting this rich habitat.

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12. Q. Are pets allowed on Assateague Beach?

A. Pets are not allowed at Assateague State Park, back country campsites, or Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The Maryland end of Assateague allows pets, but they must be kept on leashes. See the Pet Regulations page for more info.

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13. Q. How do we get to Assateague Island?

A. Assateague Island is within easy driving distance from Washington DC, New York, and many other East Coast areas. Refer to the Assateague Map page for driving directions and more info.

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14. Can we still buy the famous Chincoteague oysters?

A. Chincoteague Island became famous for it's salty oysters long before the book "Misty" made the wild ponies of Assateague so popular. During the late 80's and 90's, the oysters have not been nearly as plentiful in the wild as they once were. However, due to various farming techniques, the famous oysters are now making a come back and so the salty taste should be around for years ahead.

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15. Q. Is camping allowed on or near the beach?

A. Camping on Assateague Island is allowed at Assateague State Park in Maryland and back country campsites that exist also. Many fine campgrounds can be found on Chincoteague Island and near Ocean City.

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16. Q. How many wild ponies live on Assateague?

A. Approximately 300 wild ponies are distributed evenly between the Maryland and Virginia portions of Assateague.
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