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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Yurko

Why Assateague Island Tours? It's All About The Experience

Updated: Feb 19

Assateague Island National Seashore has become an extremely popular destination, and for good reason. It's truly a beautiful and amazing place to visit. In fact, according to a National Park Service report, 2,136,889 visitors came to Assateague Island National Seashore in 2018. But, this can also mean long lines and wait times, crowded parking lots and beaches, and people getting too close to wildlife.

The wild horses are the most famous and main draw to the island, with some roaming freely throughout the developed area that is accessible by car and foot. However, there is also a rich history to the island, and an off road area of 12 miles of beach where properly equipped and permitted vehicles can drive, which is called the OSV ("Over Sand Vehicle"). Adventurers have been traveling to this area for generations, but many visitors to Ocean City and other eastern shore beaches are unaware that this portion of Assateague even exists!

By adventuring with us at Assateague Island Tours, we are able to avoid the rush of people with proper knowledge and planning while having access to the OSV and a secluded beach area. We are the first and only business authorized by Assateague NPS to give guided tours into Assateague Island and onto the OSV, allowing for a more relaxing and refreshing experience away from the crowds.

What Should I Expect on the Tour?

Our tours meet and depart from the West Ocean City Park and Ride, as this is a central location that provides free parking for guests (If you are staying in West Ocean City or Berlin, we can offer pickup and drop off at your location, times slightly adjusted). When entering the Park and Ride, drive over the bridge to the back of the parking lot where you will find a silver Toyota Sequoia loaded with beach gear! We ask that all groups arrive 10 minutes prior to the departure time, as we must leave promptly for the tour at set time.

*If you are traveling with small children that require a car seat, we ask that you bring the seat with you to put in the vehicle.

We depart for Assateague Island on a short 15-20 minute drive where we talk about the history of Assateague and answer any questions you may have about the island, it's development, the horses, and more. We head over the Verrazano Bridge, enter the park and drive to the end of the paved road.

While driving through the park, we can often see wildlife and horses grazing or relaxing. This is a perfect time to take pictures and view the horses from the safety of the vehicle. We are always careful, as you never know when and where the horses might emerge.

We will then take a quick stop to air down the tires for added traction over sand before entering the OSV / off road section. This can be a little bumpy on the drive in, but don't worry, the vehicle is safe and properly equipped, and all passengers are in a seat with a seatbelt.

Emerging over a hill, the Atlantic Ocean becomes visible, and the expansive beach opens up into the distance. We will drive a short ways down the beach, and depending on visitors preference and accessibility, explore a short hidden path to get a glimpse of the bay side (contingent upon closures due to migratory birds and/or overwash). We will then return to the beach, far from any other visitors, finding a secluded and safe area to park right on the shoreline.

Upon parking on the beach, we will set up beach chairs for each person, a beach canopy for each group, and small tables. Beach games are also provided, such as bocce ball, paddle ball, frisbee, football, and horseshoes. We will have a 5 gallon jug of ice water and a beach towel for each person. Boogie boards are provided and surfboards are available to rent (at booking). If added on, we will bring local firewood for a fire on the beach, as well as skewers for roasting marshmallows over the fire. Please feel free to bring hot dogs or any food you would like to cook.

Building a sandcastle is a part of the beach experience, and perfect for families adventuring with children. Walking the beach, seashell collecting, swimming, reading, taking a nap, having a drink and enjoying the sounds of nature without the crowds is refreshing and relaxing.

During the trip, we can take a picture of your group/family on the beach with a DSLR camera. This will be sent to you after the trip at no extra cost.

All we ask is that you bring your bathing suit, lunch, and drinks (alcohol permitted), which we can store in a YETI cooler for the day. You won't have to carry anything to the beach!

How about Surfing?

Surfboards will also be brought if rented, and often the morning is the best time to surf when winds are light. We follow the wind, weather, and surf forecast daily, so will be aware and share when the time might be best for surfing. Beginners are welcome and we can provide tips to learn to surf. Andrew has been surfing at Assateague and around the world for many years, and can help those who might have never surfed before. We can also take pictures of you surfing, which are great memories to have forever.

Click here to see booking options for any of our trips at Assateague Island Tours, and please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions. We are here to provide an experience where you, your family, and friends can enjoy your day and vacation. We are confident experiencing Assateague Island on a tour with us will be something you will never forget.

About Assateague Island Tours

Assateague Island Tours was created to share Assateague's beauty and provide a different experience for those visiting the barrier island. Our goal is to help you turn off your mind and truly enjoy your day while leaving the planning to us.

Throughout our years of traveling to Assateague Island and onto the OSV, we've seen countless people become refreshed and reenergized after visiting the island and experiencing all that it has to offer. It opens up a new perspective for those that visit, as many come from the city and are pleasantly surprised that a place like Assateague Island exists in Maryland. Being less than a three hour drive from three of the largest US cities, Washington DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and open year-round, the island offers an escape for those looking for a unique experience. Driving off road over sand is a special adventure many don't ever get to experience. Sharing a true Assateague experience immersed in nature and away from the crowds is our goal and what has driven us to create this experience.

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