Smith Island

Overview

Introduction

Maryland's Smith Island (actually three islands), in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay and accessible only by a 12-mi/20-km boat ride, is not a tourist hot spot. Cars cannot be transported to the island and there are few inns, restaurants or shops. It's the lack of development that's the attraction there, as well as the chance to see it before it disappears (serious erosion threatens what little dry land there is).

Smith Island is a good place to bicycle, listen to the gulls, watch sunsets and learn about the work of the Chesapeake Bay watermen. Residents have been harvesting seafood from the bay for generations (settlement began in 1657, and a bit of the original settlers' English accent can still be heard in the voices of some of the 400 residents). There are no supermarkets, no police and little worry about crime, but there are a lot of cats.

Ferries to Smith Island leave from the Eastern Shore town of Crisfield. Called the "Crab Capital of the World" and built largely on a base of oyster shells, this scrappy little town on the bay is famous for its Eastern Shore crabs. It honors them each Labor Day weekend with the National Hard Crab Derby and Fair, which is highlighted by thrilling, high-speed crustacean races.

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