All Things Kayaking

Gargatha Landing to Metompkin Island

Is it possible to find a deserted Atlantic Beach in Virginia? We thought not until we launched our kayaks from Gargatha Landing in Accomack County Virginia.

Again we kayaked with Shannon Alexander of Bay Country Kayaking.  Shannon’s tidal knowledge dictated our starting time for this trip. Our goal was to approach the beach on Metompkin Island on an incoming tide. The Gargatha Launch site has a soft landing for kayaks and plenty of parking in the grass. In the distance we spotted the NASA facilities at Wallops Island.  On a later trip we launched at the Old NASA Ferry Landing to allow us a closer view of Wallops Island.

After launching on Gargathy Creek we examined some clam aquaculture floats. With a lowering tide an American Oystercatcher fished on a tidal flat. Since only one major route towards the beach exists it’s necessary to share the channel with powerboats. As the tide lowers the channel becomes narrow so kayakers should stay aware of approaching boats.

Taking a break on a tidal flat we investigated the sea life. From our stop the launch ramp is near the group of houses in the distance.

20160827_134139_Rest stop on the mud flat

Taking a break on a mudflat

To be safe, approach the backside of Metompkin Island on an incoming tide. An outgoing tide can potentially push one’s kayak into the ocean. On this trip the incoming tide created a bit of wave action at the opening. After landing on the inside of the island we walked the beach to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Nature Conservancy owns the majority of the Virginia Barrier Islands. They’ve restricted landing at certain times to protect the wildlife and fragile seascape. Check the Nature Conservancy for complete information about restrictions. Parts of Metompkin Island are not owned by the Nature Conservancy.

While walking to the beach Shannon explained the biology of horseshoe crabs. 

Since this trip occurred in late August we didn’t miss the chance to swim in the warm Atlantic. Besides our small group, we spotted only two other adventurers on the beach. What a treat!

On our return we paddled the Virginia Inside Passage and then attempted to paddle a gut through the marsh. Shannon videoed our slow track through this muddy creek. At times, even with a GPS, there were questions about our location. We returned to the boat launch at high tide.

20160827_153019_Paddling the river in the grass

Paddling back through the River of Grass

This short paddle of less than five miles is part of the Virginia Seaside Water Trail. We intend to paddle all the segments of the trail in the next few years.

Due to user error part of the first GPS track is missing from the map however you can easily link our route back to the put-in site.

GPS Topo Map

Topological Map

Directions to Launch Site: From Intersection of Rt. 113 & Rt. 13 in Pocomoke, MD drive 19.5 miles south on Rt. 13 to Gargatha, VA. Turn left onto State Rt. 680 (Gargatha Landing Rd). Launch ramp in 2.6 miles at end of road.

Services: None at launch site. Gas, food etc. along Rt. 13.

For more Kayaking Delmarva blog posts visit our Blog Index


2 replies »

  1. Hi there! Very interested in exploring this area by Kayak. I’m curious – is an ocean kayak or at the least, a kayak with a spray skirt necessary to get to the beach safely? I currently have an Oru Beach LT (open cockpit) which i’m comfortable with, but i’m worried that the beach landing part would be problematic with the openness of this boats design. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!! 🙂


    • Tyler – we used Wilderness System Tarpon 160i’s which are sit on tops for this trip. You don’t approach the beach from the ocean but from the marsh behind the beach so there’s no wave action where you land.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s