The 10 Best Boat Tours in Chincoteague, VA

Chincoteague, VA is home to the famous wild Chincoteague ponies, as well as bald eagles, ospreys, and other shorebirds. Atlantic bottlenose dolphins even make a visit to the surrounding waters in summer and fall.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is managed on the Virginia side of Assateague Island. Assateague State Park is managed on the Maryland side of the island. Both parks make up the Assateague Island National Seashore. Together, the islands make up one of the most beautiful places on the east coast.

Chincoteague is located on the eastern shore of Virginia. It is surrounded by water, with the Atlantic Ocean and Chincoteague Bay on either side. This makes boat tours a great way to experience the natural beauty and abundant wildlife of this unique place.

Chincoteague boat tours also allow you to reach more remote places on the island that are only accessible by water. This can provide you with an even more intimate and memorable experience at this special place. The nature cruises offer close-up views of the world-famous ponies and other wildlife on the islands.

Sunset boat tours are also available, which can give you a chance to experience the region’s beautiful sunsets.

You can learn more about the park, and other national parks in Virginia, by checking out my guide to the Virginia National Parks!

Below are my top recommendations for boat tours in Chincoteague, VA.

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Where to Stay Near Chincoteague, VA
Comfort Suites Chincoteague Island Bayfront Resort
(Click here to book)
* * * *
Channel Bass Inn
(Click here to book)

What to Bring on a Chincoteague Boat Tour
1. Binoculars Click here to buy
2. Backpack Click here to buy
3. Sunscreen Click here to buy
4. Bug SprayClick here to buy

Chincoteague Boat Tours

Boat ToursUnique FeaturesTickets
Assateague Explorer Boat TourOffers boat and kayak toursClick here to purchase
Daisey’s Island CruisesHas both larger capacity and smaller capacity boatsClick here to purchase
Assateague ToursHas kayaks, paddleboards, and canoesClick here to purchase
Barnacle Bill’s Boat ToursProvides local history and storiesClick here to purchase
Captain Barry’s Back Bay CruisesFloating classroom geared toward hands-on experience with natureClick here to purchase
Captain Dan’s Around the Island ToursHas an Afternoon Pony Tour that just focuses on pony viewingClick here to purchase
Spider’s ExplorerOfficiates marriages on boat cruisesClick here to purchase
Chincoteague Island AdventuresOperated by a lifelong waterman from ChincoteagueClick here to purchase
Cowboy Cruise CompanyOffers a pony tour and shellfish tour with saltwater oystersClick here to purchase
Island Queen Inland ChartersAlso offers fishing trips, including trips for young childrenClick here to purchase

Assateague Explorer Boat Tour


Assateague Explorer Boat Tour offers boat and kayak tours around the island. They even offer special dolphin tours. Dolphins are most commonly seen in the summer and fall.

The wildlife tours will give you a chance to see the famous Chincoteague ponies, bald eagles, ospreys, and other birds and wildlife in their natural habitat on the island.

A great bonus of the tour is that it reaches parts of the island that are only accessible by boat. This makes it a more secluded experience where you can get even closer to the natural beauty and wildlife of the island.

The tours leave throughout the day, including a morning tour at 9:30 am, as well as tours at 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm, and sunset.

The company offers several tour options:


You can purchase tickets online.

Daisey’s Island Cruises


Daisey’s Island Cruises offer nature tours on pontoon boats. The scenic cruise travels around both Chincoteague Island and Assateague Island.

The tours also travel to Tom’s Cove, which is the southern end of Chincoteague Island and the best location for spotting Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

They offer several different tours, including:


You can purchase tickets online.

Assateague Tours


Assateague Tours offers 6 daily tours to remote locations around Assateague and Chincoteague. The boat tours last from a 1-hour cruise to a 1.5 hours cruise.

The tour also provides a view of the Assateague Lighthouse.

The company also has one and two-person kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes that you can take to explore the nature reserve. They even offer a guided Kayak Eco Tour. You can reserve a private tour for an additional fee.


You can purchase tickets online.

Barnacle Bill’s Boat Tours


Barnacle Bill’s Boat Tours is owned by a father and son duo. The company offers several tour options, including a “Explore the Island and Its Wildlife” tour, and a “Sunset Tour and Explore”.

Barnacle Bill and Billy both grew up in Chincoteague, and they have a wealth of local knowledge and provide guests with stories about the history of the island.


You can purchase tickets online.

Captain Barry’s Back Bay Cruises


Captain Barry’s Back Bay Cruises sets itself apart by offering a more hands-on experience to nature as part of the boat tours. In fact, the boat is called a “floating classroom”.

Tours are limited to just 6 people, which makes them more private than some of the other tours.

The eco tours focus on other activities that are especially geared toward kids and learning. Some of the activities on the tours include collecting shells, pulling crab pots, harvesting salt oysters, and searching for jellyfish.

There are multiple cruises throughout the day, starting at 8:00 am and ending with sunset cruises (for adults only) at 6:30 pm.


You can call for tour reservations. Note that cash and checks are accepted, but credit cards are not accepted.

Captain Dan’s Around the Island Tours


Captain Dan’s Around the Island tours offers three tour types: public, private, and semi-private. The public tour has a capacity of 12 passengers, the semi-private tour has a capacity of 6 passengers and will have a more personal focus based on what the group is interested in seeing.

The company offers a main public tour that covers 25 miles, including 18 miles of Assateague coastline. Along the trip you can see wild ponies, dolphins, and many shorebirds, including bald eagles, herons, and ospreys.

They also offer an Afternoon Pony Tour, which just focuses on seeing ponies.


You can call for tour reservations.

Spider’s Explorer


Spider’s Explorer offers two-hour tours around Chincoteague Island. 

You can get an opportunity to see a wide range of migratory birds, including herons, egrets, terns, ducks, oystercatchers, swans, pelicans, Canada geese, eagles, osprey, and laughing gulls. 

There are also of course many opportunities to see wild horses, dolphins, and even sea turtles. The boat sizes are limited to just 6 passengers. 

One of the unique features that Spider’s Explorer offers is an opportunity to get married on a boat cruise. The captain is an official Marriage Celebrant in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 


You can call for tour reservations.

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