Washington Post Discovers Eastern Shore (Again)

Washington Post photographer Jay Westcott captured this image of Custis Pond in Savage Neck Dunes -- near Cape Charles but missed by most tourists and quite a few residents.

Washington Post photographer Jay Westcott captured this image of Custis Pond in Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve — near Cape Charles but missed by most tourists and more than a few residents.

Cape Charles Wave

June 30, 2014

In August 2012 the Washington Post sent travel writer Becky Krystal to the Eastern Shore, where she discovered then newly opened Hotel Cape Charles, as well as Brown Dog Ice Cream, and gushed over both of them. Two years later the Post has discovered the Eastern Shore all over again, this time through the person of Andrea Sachs, who appears not to have read the yellowed clippings of her colleague’s story.

Ms. Sachs’ upbeat account in this past weekend’s Post will no doubt bring even more tourists our way – especially those looking for something new and different. She writes:

Travelers familiar with the extrovert to the north, Maryland’s Eastern Shore, will be surprised by Virginia’s subdued and understated character. Maryland is the lazy man’s summer retreat: Simply follow the dancing crabs to your stretch of sand or pot of seafood. Virginia’s section is more mysterious and challenging. You have to work for your water views, your beaches and your summer requisites.

That’s the first hint that this travel story will be different. The second comes when Sachs, overnighting at the Exmore Holiday Inn, asks a question. As she tells it:

On the drive to my Exmore hotel, I’d passed a sign for Silver Beach, imagining a sparkling strand with sand spun of the precious metal. When I asked a Holiday Inn employee for information about it, she had none. Instead, she directed me north to Chincoteague (done it, and didn’t want to repeat it) or south to Cape Charles (on the itinerary).

Imagine – a travel writer who purposely skips Chincoteague! Instead, Sachs highlights the following:

The LOVE display at Cape Charles beach was the only in-town photo included in the Post's online slideshow. (Photo by Jay Westcott/Washington Post)

The LOVE display at Cape Charles beach was the only in-town photo included in the Post’s online slideshow. (Photo by Jay Westcott/Washington Post)


— Sunset Beach, along with the  Inn and Grille get mention as the only spot to see the water from Route 13. Post photographer Jay Westcott featured it as well in a photo essay available online only (CLICK).

— The Barrier Islands Center gets some nice photos and publicity, including instructions from Director Laura Vaughan on how to “talk Eastern Shore.”

The Nature Conservancy official Bo Lusk also educates Sachs on the more rural nature of Virginia’s Eastern Shore: “If you want to visit the barrier islands on the sea side, you gotta figure out how to get there.” And she almost gets to Hog Island, courtesy of another Conservancy employee, Marcus Killmon, who relates that his family’s old Cedar Island cottage disappeared last year when the beach eroded.

But lest Sachs’ travel account be TOO different, she does succumb to the one event that every writer — and I do mean every – shares. That, of course, would be SouthEast Expeditions’ kayack trip to Chatham Vinyards, now billed as the “Paddle Your Glass Off” adventure.  It’s the most detailed part of her story, and we meet guide Ethan Watkins and Chatham vintner Jon Wehner.

Also getting good press is Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve, which probably is unknown to most Cape Charles visitors and even quite a few residents. The photo of Custis Pond en route to the beach is compelling.

So, what about Cape Charles itself? Turns out that, like Chincoteague, the Town of Cape Charles is not what Sachs came to see. But she does recommend it as a good place to stay from which to venture out into the natural surroundings. And where to stay? No mention of Hotel Cape Charles this time. Instead (well, see below).


Charlotte Hotel and Restaurant, Onancock: Boutique hotel with eight rooms featuring artwork and furniture made by the owners. Gourmet restaurant downstairs. Rooms from $130, including breakfast. [Strangely, Onancock did not even get a mention in her story.]

Fig Street Inn, Cape Charles: Four guest rooms in a renovated 19th-century house with lots of treats (candy in front parlor, cold drinks in upstairs fridge). Rooms from $140, including breakfast.


The Great Machipongo Clam Shack, Nassawadox: Seafood from all depths of the ocean — clams, oysters, shrimp, flounder, crab — prepared as cakes, soup, sandwiches, salads, etc. Entrees from $14.

Island House Restaurant and Marina, Wachapreague: Local seafood restaurant (plus burgers, chicken, wraps and more) overlooks Wachapreague Harbor and the barrier islands. Dinner entrees from $11.49.


SouthEast Expeditions: Explore the Eastern Shore on a kayak eco-tour. The Paddle Your Glass Off tour visits Chatham Vineyards. $89 includes tasting and bottle of wine.

Barrier Islands Center, Machipongo: Learn about the Eastern Shore’s history and island life, plus tour the almshouse farm. Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.

Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve, Eastville: The 298-acre preserve features hiking trails through dunes, maritime forest and other eco-zones.

Barrier Islands tours: The Wachapreague Inn offers a water taxi to a sandbar ($200 for up to six people), plus other boat tours around the islands. Marcus Killmon of Wachapreague also offers sunset and fishing trips. Price is based on trip length and itinerary.

CLICK for the Washington Post story.

CLICK for the sidebar recommendations.

CLICK for the photo essay



2 Responses to “Washington Post Discovers Eastern Shore (Again)”

  1. Joseph Corcoran on June 30th, 2014 7:18 am

    The “Where to Eat” section is nonsense. They missed all of the good places in Cape Charles town.

  2. Jeff Walker on July 8th, 2014 9:58 am

    All the shots in the photo essay of the “sea side” were either on the bayside or Rt. 13.