Birds in flight
Shorebirds Red knots feeding along the shore of Hog Island, Virginia Coast Reserve. © Peter Frank Edwards for The Nature Conservancy

Places We Protect

Virginia Coast Reserve Barrier Islands

Virginia

The longest expanse of coastal wilderness remaining on the east coast.

COVID-19 UPDATE (April 16, 2020)

TNC’s public preserves in Virginia remain open. We ask all visitors to follow current health and safety precautions, including guidance from the Governor’s Stay-at-Home Executive Order issued March 30, 2020, the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others (social distancing).

Parking may be limited at many of our preserves. If you choose to visit a preserve, if possible, please visit outside of peak times (11 a.m. through 4 p.m.) to reduce overcrowding in parking areas and on trails. If parking areas are full, please plan to return to the preserve another day.

Please follow preserve access guidelines, and check back here for updates as the current situation is changing rapidly.

Thank you for helping us in our efforts to protect our visitors’ health and well-being.


 

Most TNC owned islands at the Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR) are open to the public for low-impact, recreational day use, such as hiking, bird watching, surf fishing and photography. These include Smith, Myrtle, Mink, Cobb, Rogue, Sandy, Parramore and Revel Islands and the TNC owned portions of Metompkin, Cedar and Hog Islands. 

Seasonal restrictions are in place to protect nesting birds—all areas above the high tide line are closed April through August. 

Little Cobb and Ship Shoal Islands are CLOSED to visitor use at all times for scientific research and safety reasons.

What We're Doing Here

The Virginia Coast Reserve’s 14 undeveloped barrier and marsh islands help to protect Eastern Shore communities from storm surges and sea level rise, as well as providing critical wildlife habitat. The mainland and island preserves of VCR offer visitors unique natural experiences. 

The barrier islands shelter more than 250 species of raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds, which find food in the adjacent bays and salt marshes. 

For five decades, VCR's migratory bird program has managed and protected coastal habitats for the bird species that depend on them for survival. 

Visiting the Barrier Islands

Islands that are open to the public include Smith, Myrtle, Mink, Cobb, Rogue, Sandy, Parramore and Revel Islands and the TNC owned portions of Metompkin, Cedar and Hog Islands. 

Pets, motorized vehicles, camping and campfires are PROHIBITED on all islands at all times.

SEASONAL RESTRICTIONS are also in place to protect nesting birds.  All areas above the high tide line are CLOSED April through August.

Little Cobb and Ship Shoal Islands are CLOSED to visitor use at all times for scientific research and safety reasons.

Please help protect these fragile resources and help keep these islands open to the public by observing all visitation policies.

ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES

The following guidelines will also help protect nesting birds April through August:

  • Remain below the high tide line at all times in all areas on the barrier islands
  • Do not walk on or traverse upper beaches, dunes or mudflats
  • Respect posted areas and corridors

Know Before You Go

Birds in flight
Vcr Barrier Islands
The Virginia Coast Reserve's 14 undeveloped barrier islands represent the longest expanse of coastal wilderness remaining on the east coast.

Virginia Coast Reserve Barrier Islands This map places you on the north end of Hog Island, mid-way along the chain of VCR islands. Other islands open to the public for low-impact day use include Hog, Cobb, Myrtle, Parramore, Smith, Sandy, Revels, Rogue, Godwin and Mink Islands, and the Conservancy owned portions of Metompkin and Cedar Islands.