Photo by Gordon Campbell | At Altitude Gallery

Ship Shoal Island

Owned and managed by: The Nature Conservancy Virginia Coast Reserve.

Ship Shoal Island is closed to the public.

Visitation policies


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

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

About Ship Shoal Island

One of the more remote Virginia barrier islands, Ship Shoal Island was once used as a target for bombing practice during and following World War II. The possibility of undetonated explosives sunken deep into the marsh has resulted in this island being closed to public access. As with all of the other barrier islands, Ship Shoal provides important coastal habitats for nesting, migrating and wintering birds as well as other coastal species such as diamondback terrapins.


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.



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.