The Eastern Shore is a place to relax and “get away from it all.” Prior to the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in 1964, this was an isolated locale, with a ferry the main link to Norfolk. With each passing year, more people discover this quiet gem. New retirement communities and golf courses are signs of things to come, but the Shore today remains by and large a close knit, primarily agricultural – and increasingly aquacultural – area. This where you will find Chincoteague. The legend of Chincoteague’s famed ponies holds that their ancestors swam onto this large barrier island from a shipwrecked Spanish galleon. Throngs of visitors descend on this resort village each July for the annual Pony Swim and Auction. Business stands still for two days midweek as ponies are corralled on Assateague Island and herded across a narrow channel to Chincoteague Island. And then there is Onancock, called the “Gem of the Eastern Shore” and, thanks to a new generation of imaginative shop owners, it has achieved legitimate “must-see” status. As you pop in and out of fine antique and jewelry shops on Market Street, you might notice a theme take shape. Many of the places combine good food, handcrafts and art all in one. One of our more memorable kayak trips began in Cape Charles near the tip of the Eastern Shore. As we paddled south, aided by a northeast wind, the shoreline morphed into high, red clay bluffs topped with loblolly pines. Near a set of gill nets, we surprised a deer swimming. Past Kiptopeke State Park, a sharp-eyed companion spied two bald eagles. Then, wonder of wonders, fins broke the surface. For 10 minutes or more, we bobbed and watched, enthralled by a half-dozen juvenile and adult dolphins that swam among our boats. Fishing is a major draw for Shore visitors, and Cape Charles is no different. In season, charters leave daily from the marina for sport fishing, pleasure boating and tall ship cruises. One of the town’s best assets is a mile-long public beach right in downtown, with a boardwalk and gazebo where most events are centered. Along the seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore is a chain of barrier islands, uninhabited except for wildlife. This wasn’t always so. Since the mid-1800s, people have tried taming this coastal wilderness by building beach resorts, hunting and fishing clubs, and even entire communities. All have been lost to the ravages of sea and time. Everything you need to know is detailed in this remarkable guide. The places to stay, where to eat, the parks, the beaches, the museums, fishing, boating and much more.