The two- to 2.5-hour boat tours, guided by Captain Dan or his father Captain Ray are fabulous and the perfect way to see wild ponies, even on a dreary day. Families are almost sure to see wild ponies, eagles, dolphins and other wildlife as the boat passes all 25 miles of the Chincoteague shoreline, Chincoteague Nature Wildlife Refuge and into the bays and creeks of Assateague Island. The boat does not pass the same place twice. The pontoon boat is able to maneuver through the shallow waters and get exceptionally close to the wild ponies. The Assateague Lighthouse and the area where the Annual Pony Swim takes place are also seen on the tour.
While the wild ponies are, of course, the highlight of the tour, Captain Dan makes the experience fun and informative. He is a wealth of knowledge and history about the ponies and Chincoteague Island. He knows when new foals are born, points out the wild ponies by name (there are more than 100 wild ponies on the island) and often has a story or history about each pony’s life and love life — there can sometimes be wild pony drama when several mares exist in one herd with only one male pony! Kids and families will thoroughly adore this boat trip. Seeing the wild ponies along with Captain Dan makes this tour truly a must-see when visiting Chincoteague Island. Don’t forget your camera.
April: 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m.; May through September 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and sunset; October: 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m.; in November, visitors can call for times.
$40 for adults, $35 for children under 12 years old. There’s a $5 per person discount for cash payments. Six people are the maximum number on one boat trip. However, up to 12 can be taken out on a trip on two different boats at the same time. Reservations are required.
All trips are weather permitting and may need to be canceled or modified due to inclement weather. Remember the temperature is always about 15 degrees cooler on the water, especially after the sun goes down. Bring a jacket or sweatshirt when temperatures are below 70 degrees. It also gets windy while on the boat. Hold on to your hat.
Visitors board the pontoon boat on the floating dock in the Robert Reed Downtown Park. Free parking is available behind Don’s Seafood Restaurant.