Photo by Gordon Campbell | At Altitude Gallery

Hog Island

Owned and managed by: The Nature Conservancy Virginia Coast Reserve. BE AWARE: Private inholdings exist and visitors should respect property boundaries.

Portions of Hog Island that are owned by The Nature Conservancy are open year-round to the public for low-impact, recreational day use, such as hiking, bird watching, surf fishing and photography. Within these portions, all areas above the high tide line are closed April through August. Please help protect sensitive habitats and wildlife by observing all visitation policies and seasonal restrictions.

Visiting Hog Island

The Seaside is a dynamic landscape with constantly shifting tides, sands and weather. Safety is a top concern when visiting this remote area with limited accessibility and services. Stay alert, come prepared and be aware of island use policies.

Open for recreational DAY use:

   Photography   Wildlife viewing   surf fishing

Prohibited at ALL times:

No camping   No campfires   No vehicles   No dogs

Seasonal restrictions (April through August):
  • CLOSED above high tide line. Remain at the water’s edge and below the high tide line at all times in all areas to avoid bird nesting habitat
  • Do not walk on or traverse upper beaches, dunes or mudflats
  • Respect posted bird nesting areas

For information about our policies, please contact the Virginia Coast Reserve office:


View full screen map of Hog Island.

Suggested access points

Hog Island is most easily and safely accessed via the inlet beaches at the north (Quinby Inlet) and south (Great Machipongo Inlet) ends of the island. Access to other parts of Hog Island and to Rogue Island requires extensive knowledge of the waterways and is not recommended for inexperienced visitors. Please contact The Nature Conservancy for more information.

About Hog Island

Hog Island stands out among Virginia’s barrier islands due to its history of having supported the only established town along the Virginia barrier island chain. The town of Broadwater was founded in the mid-19th century, supported up to 250 people at one point, and persisted until a series of hurricanes drove the last residents off the island in the early 1930s. Today, much of the footprint of the town itself lies underneath the ocean as the island has moved and changed, as barrier islands are meant to do. But the history of the island and the people that called it home are well preserved and showcased, in particular at the Virginia Eastern Shore’s Barrier Island Center Museum in Machipongo.

Today, Hog Island is largely owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy as part of its Virginia Coast Reserve. The island is almost entirely undeveloped and provides important habitat for an incredible diversity of coastal plants and animals. The island also serves as one of the primary research sites for the University of Virginia’s Long-Term Ecological Research Station in Oyster, Virginia. Researchers and students from all over the world have been studying coastal dynamics and processes on Hog Island since the late 1980s.

Private inholdings exist on Hog Island and visitors are encouraged to access the northern and southern inlet beaches which are encompassed within the Virginia Coast Reserve. Before visiting, please familiarize yourself with site use policies and seasonal restrictions in order to help protect sensitive resources.

Learn more about the barrier islands
Hog Island

Photo by Gordon Campbell | At Altitude Gallery

Hog Island marsh

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.

Natural History
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OWNERSHIP AND LAND MANAGEMENT

The Nature Conservancy Virginia Coast Reserve

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, the Conservancy creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together.

The Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR) is a landscape program within the Virginia Chapter of the Conservancy that is headquartered in Nassawadox, Virginia on the Eastern Shore. VCR is made up of 14 barrier and marsh islands, extensive salt marshes and several mainland properties including the Brownsville Preserve. Programs at VCR address conservation topics on the Eastern Shore such as migratory bird conservation, marine habitat restoration, coastal resilience, land protection and outreach and education. VCR works collaboratively with federal and state partners to manage The Nature Conservancy’s properties, including the barrier islands and Brownsville Preserve, to ensure the protection of sensitive natural resources while also accommodating for low-impact visitor use.

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.