About Smith Island
Smith Island lies in the Chesapeake Bay twelve miles west of Crisfield, Maryland. It is Maryland's lone offshore island in the Chesapeake Bay accessible only by boat. Everything that comes to the island must be brought over by passenger ferry service, from groceries and mail to golf carts and lumber. The five by three mile island has three communities with a total island population of about 350 people. Tylerton is fully detached from Ewell and Rhodes Point and can be reached by boat.
While Smith Island today is almost synonymous with commercial crabbing and with the newly designated State Dessert The Smith Island Cake, its first settler didn't come to water. They came to farm. Unfortunately, erosion problems caused cropland to be washed away and storms fouled the land with salt water, making farming an unprofitable venture.
The local dialect is what linguists call "Tidewater English" a unique blending of old English, American Southern and Coastal Accents. English, Cornish & Welsh first colonized the island between 1659 and 1686. The area is so remote that most island residents can trace their ancestors back twelve generations, some to the original settlers.
What to take with you:
Don't forget to pack the following must have items in your travel bag: sunscreen, insect repellent, camera, binoculars.
What to expect when you get there:
Cruise and Passenger Ferry Boats offer roundtrip passage daily throughout the summer, but there are no car ferries. The cruise boat affords you the comfort of air conditioning and bathrooms on board along with a light narration of the scenery you are passing. The Passenger Ferries are the boats that the islanders themselves use for transportation to and from the mainland and offers a narration of a different kind, the distinct speech of the island natives. They are also the main transportation for supplies and mail, so don't be surprised if you find yourself aboard with the proverbial kitchen sink. You can also bring along your bicycle or kayak (for an additional freight fee) to take advantage of the island roads and water trails.
If you are hungry when you reach the island, be sure to stop at the one of the island eateries. Your meal won't be complete, though, without sampling the famous Smith Island Layer Cake, Maryland's Official State Dessert. After your meal, make time to visit the Smith Island Center. The museum offers a variety of exhibits depicting the history, economic, and social life of the island.
While there are no shopping malls on the island, there are just a few quaint gift shops to explore. They feature antiques, souvenirs, T-shirts, and local artwork.
Smith Island is a mostly residential island and is home to the hard working the Waterman and his family. While islanders are friendly to passersby, please observe the crab shanties and workboats from a distance as this is their livelihood.
Tylerton is the smallest of the three villages, home to just around seventy year round residents. To visit Tylerton, please take the Captain Jason II from the city dock as this is the only passenger ferry that services this small community.
Tylerton is home to the Smith Island Crab Co-op, where the ladies of the island pick crabs on a daily basis (except Sunday) during season. For a small fee visitors can stop in to watch the process and listen as the women sing hymns as they work. Fresh crabmeat, when available, and souvenirs can be purchased there.
Lunch can be found at Drum Point Market. Be sure to ask about the 1/4 pound crab cake sandwich and don't forget the Smith Island Layer Cake.
Spending the night:
If you decide to spend the night on the island, be aware that Smith Island is a dry community and that no alcohol is sold there. You are welcome to bring your own alcoholic beverages, but please be mindful of the place and its people.
Visit their website: http://www.smithisland.org
Annual Events In Smith Island
Lodging In Smith Island
|Serves steamed crabs.|
Smith Island Dining
Seafood To Go In Smith Island
Places To Shop In Smith Island