Virginia Coast Reserve

Barrier Islands


Visiting the Virginia Coast Reserve? Read below for VCR Barrier Island Visitation Policies.

Visiting the Brownsville Preserve? Click here for more information.


VCR Barrier Island Visitation Policies

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

Continue reading for important use policies in place to protect sensitive resources on the barrier islands:

  • Pets, motorized vehicles, camping and campfires are PROHIBITED on all islands at all times.
  • SEASONAL RESTRICTIONS TO PROTECT NESTING BIRDS - APRIL THROUGH AUGUST:
    • Remain at the water's edge and 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.
  • Harvesting of shellfish is prohibited in all TNC / Virginia Marine Resources Commission shellfish sanctuaries.

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

Download a copy of our Virginia Coast Reserve visitation policy brochure (PDF)


VCR's barrier islands shelter more than 250 species of raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds, which find food in the adjacent bays and salt marshes.  For over four decades, VCR's migratory bird program has managed and protected coastal habitats for the bird species that depend on them for survival. 

Download a copy of our beach-nesting bird brochure (PDF) or watch the video below to learn how you can help protect VCR's beach-nesting birds.


Our Conservation Strategies

Guided by sound conservation science, the Conservancy works with a variety of public and private partners to protect, enhance, and restore the unique and productive habitats and wildlife of the Virginia Coast Reserve. Below are some of the ways we work:

  • Land Protection
    We purchase land directly, assist local, state, and federal conservation partners with land acquisition, and help private owners protect their land with conservation easements. Each year VCR staff members monitor the 33,000 acres of land owned by the Conservancy, as well as 70 private conservation easement properties that protect more than 13,000 acres.
  • Migratory Bird Conservation
    From April through early September, thousands of birds nest and raise their chicks on the beaches of Virginia’s barrier islands.  For over four decades, the Virginia Coast Reserve has developed a migratory bird program to manage and protect coastal habitats for the bird species that depend on them for survival.
  • Marine Habitat Restoration
    Working with multiple partners, including Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Virginia Institute of Marine Science, VCR is focused on large scale restoration projects to return native oysters and productive eelgrass beds to coastal bays.
  • Coastal Resilience
    We're working with scientists and community partners to better understand how nature can make coastal communities more resilient in the face of a changing climate.
  • Education
    We're collaborating with teachers in Accomack and Northampton Counties to develop unique, hands-on learning experiences that connect elementary, middle, and high school students with the natural environment.
  • Community Outreach
    Through public events and volunteer opportunities we're engaging community members of all ages and backgrounds, and connecting people with the places we protect at VCR.
Program Milestones and Achievements
  • United Nations International Man and the Biosphere Reserve
  • U.S. Department of the Interior National Natural Landmark
  • National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Research Site
  • Western Hemisphere International Shorebird Reserve Network Site
Contact Information

Virginia Coast Reserve
11332 Brownsville Road, PO Box 158
Nassawadox, VA 23413
Phone: (757) 442-3049

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