Photo by Gordon Campbell | At Altitude Gallery

Fisherman Island NWR

Owned and managed by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Fisherman Island has restricted public access limited to guided tours during the months of October through February. Reservations for the tours are made through the refuge office.

Visitation policies


To best protect critical wildlife habitat, Fisherman Island is closed to the public.

Refuge Tours

Guided tours are available, starting in October through February. To learn more:

About Fisherman Island

Fisherman Island is the southernmost barrier island in Virginia, located at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and can be the last stop before migratory birds, bats and insects cross the Chesapeake Bay on their southward migration. Fisherman Island contains an amazing diversity of coastal habitats including maritime forest, extensive salt marshes, coastal scrub and grasslands, sensitive dunelands and sandy beaches. Fisherman Island has important habitat for nesting shorebirds and diamondback terrapins, wintering salt marsh obligate sparrows, clapper rails and waterfowl. It is unique in its geological formation compared to the other Virginia barrier islands with the earliest documentation of existence showing in Chesapeake Bay navigational charts in 1815.

Fisherman Island Refuge was established in 1969, but it was not until 1973 that sole ownership rights were transferred to the Service by the Department of the Navy. The island also has historical significance and once played a role in World War II. Known cultural resources on Fisherman Island consist of four structures remaining from Chesapeake Bay Harbor Defenses for World War II.

Fisherman Island

Photo by Gordon Campbell | At Altitude Gallery

Discover a Coastal Wilderness

The Atlantic coastline of Virginia’s Eastern Shore is a unique coastal wilderness that spans 70 miles from the Virginia/Maryland border to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The region is characterized by vast, mostly undeveloped marshes, barrier island beaches and coastal lagoons that support globally important populations of migratory birds, are the site of intensive large scale oyster reef and eelgrass restoration projects, and provide extensive recreation opportunities in remote settings. Learn more about the natural history of this amazing coastal landscape.



U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge is just one of more than 560 in the National Wildlife Refuge System, administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The National Wildlife Refuge System is a network of lands and waters encompassing 150 million acres. These special places are managed specifically for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat. The Refuge System represents the most comprehensive wildlife resource management program in the world. Units of the system stretch across the United States, from northern Alaska to the Florida Keys. It also includes small islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific, as well as Marine National Monuments such as the Mariana Trench. The character of the refuges is as diverse as the nation itself and these protected lands provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species and more than 1,000 species of fish. More than 380 threatened or endangered plants or animals are protected on National Wildlife Refuges.

Explore Our Seaside Partners

The seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore is almost entirely owned and managed by non-profit, state and federal agencies. These partners share the common goal of protecting natural resources, while balancing sustainable recreational and economic use of the seaside. Learn more about our partnership.