Cruise to Historic Lighthouses on Virginia’s and Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay

chesapeake lighthouse
Some 30 lighthouses line the coast of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and Maryland
chesapeake lighthouse
Some 30 lighthouses line the coast of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and Maryland

The 4 Chesapeake Lighthouse cruises and tours profiled below are conducted by local or regionally based guides who are experts in the location, construction, and history of Chesapeake Bay lighthouses in Virginia and Maryland.

Chesapeake Bay and It’s Over 30 Lighthouses

chesapeake lighthouse
Cape Henry Lighthouse, Virginia Beach

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America. It extends approximately 200 miles reaching from Maryland in the north to Virginia in the south. The name Chesapeake is derived from the Algonquian word “Chesepiooc” which referred to a village “at a big river.”

From the earliest period in the settlement of America when Captain John Smith explored and mapped 3,000 miles of the Bay to the present, the Chesapeake Bay has been an important geographical region in American history.

One indicator of the importance of the region to the economic development of American is the fact that more than 30 lighthouses were constructed along the coast of the Bay to aid in navigation. The oldest lighthouse on Chesapeake Bay is Cape Henry Light built in 1792 in Fort Story, VA. The newest, built in 1965, is Chesapeake Light, an offshore lighthouse that marks the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. It is now used for recording atmospheric measurements for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Chesapeake Bay Lighthouses were not only practical for safe navigation they were beautiful as well. They have become scenic icons representing the history and culture of the American coast.

4 Chesapeake Lighthouse Tours

Choptank River Lighthouse

The five Chesapeake Bay lighthouse tours below provide the best guided tours to lighthouses along with narrations about their construction and history.

Chesapeake Lights

Chesapeake Lights is located on Tilghman Island in Maryland. The outfitter offers boat tours of Chesapeake Bay and beyond highlighting historic lighthouses, most of which can only be accessed by boat. The Friday evening two-hour sunset tour showcases Bloody Point Lighthouse and Thomas Point Lighthouse. “Passage to 5” visits five lighthouses and provides a comprehensive narrative history of each one. “Northern Chesapeake Lighthouse Expedition” is a full-day tour that takes in 10 lighthouses and stops at Tolchester Beach for lunch. The “Southern Chesapeake Lighthouse Expedition” is two days and features 13 lighthouses; guests spend the night in Onancock, Virginia. Other standard tours are available and custom tours can be created on request.

Read more about Chesapeake Lights

Cruises on the Bay

chesapeake lighthouse
Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse

Beginning in Annapolis, Maryland, cruise to see 3 lighthouses  – Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse (1875), Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse (1883), and Baltimore Harbor Light (1908) in three hours from the deck of the Annapolis. Tours are narrated by a knowledgeable local guide dressed in a historically accurate lighthouse keeper uniform. It is recommended that guests bring a sack lunch. A cash bar is available on board.

Read more about Cruises on the Bay Lighthouse Cruises

Sawyer Fishing Charters and Chesapeake Bay Tours

chesapeake lighthouse
Bloody Point Lighthouse

Based in Hoopers Island, Sawyer Fishing Charters and Chesapeake Bay Tours cruises to 6 lighthouses on Chesapeake Bay Hoopers Island Light, Point No Point Light, Point Lookout Light, Smith Point Light, Solomons Lump Light, and Holland Island Bar Light.

Read more about Sawyer Fishing Charters and Chesapeake Bay Tours

Downtime Charters

4-6 hour tours of lighthouses of the mid-Chesapeake Bay region aboard Down Time, a 29′ C-Hawk equipped with the latest electronic and safety gear.

Read more about Downtime Charters Lighthouse Tours

Brown's Guide
About Brown's Guide 236 Articles

Brown’s Guides is a website about the top outdoor experiences in America and about the professional outfitters and guides who know them best. BG selects guides and outfitters located in or in close proximity to the Natural Areas they provide activities in. These outfitters know the areas and care about protecting and preserving them in a way that outfitters based in other states never can. Hiking, biking, sea kayaking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and over 100 other outdoor activities are indexed on the site. BG has been doing this type of thing since 1972 in books, magazines, maps and on the Internet.

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