The northernmost of the two is Tangier, an island town in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, not too far from the Maryland line. It can be reached by ferry from Reedville in Northumberland County on the western shore of the bay and Onancock in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore. It's a great place to spend a day walking the streets of the quaint fishing village, visiting numerous craft shops and food establishments that specialize in local seafood delights. No cars are allowed; it's a walk-on ferry but all the sights are within walking distance and you can also rent bicycles. If you want to stay for a night or a weekend, there are numerous nice bed and breakfasts on the island and you will be welcomed by very friendly people who delight in telling you the story of the island. Life on the water is the predominant way that Tangier natives make their living but the tourism addition helps the economy as well.
Tangier, however, is not going to be there forever. The island is slowly being overtaken by the Chesapeake and grassy marshes are now seen where once was dry land. No one is sure of the timing, but it appears to be a lost cause due to the lack of funds which would be immense to save the small town. So, if you want to see a beautiful active fishing village in action, replete with natives who speak with a native Elizabethan, perhaps spiced with a touch of Scotland and Ireland to boot, take a trip to this wonderful little island where time largely stands still.
And now to the southern end of the journey, where we'll visit a place that got much of its fame from Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard the Pirate, who used it as his summer headquarters from which his brigands terrorized the shipping business off the treacherous Carolina coast. It's likely that some of the locals have lineage from some of these pirates as they were known to charm those they met when they wished to and a number of young women saw them as adventurers as they yearned for freedom from a strict family home, usually to their own regret. One such case involved the daughter of a North Carolina colonial governor, who fell in love with Blackbeard, only to have him turn her over to his crew for pleasure when he grew tired of her. There were no gentlemen among them, only scoundrels of the worst order, but it is, however, that had they been treated fairly from the start by the Crown, the British might not have had so much trouble with them.
The English pirates were originally mercenaries to plunder for hire by the Crown and agreements were made with Teach and other captains to loot and kill the Spanish armada components for money. But when the King reneged on his agreement, the pirates rebelled by declaring British merchant vessels target vessels as well, earning them outlaw status and sure death when caught. But for the period they ran wild and free, with their ability to disappear into the darkness, they created much havoc for the British.
Today, Ocracoke Island still has a large contingent of people who make their living from the sea, but with two ferries bringing tourists from Cedar Island down Morehead way and Hatteras from the northern Outer Banks, tourism has grown dramatically. Add to that the traveling contingents of wealth large boat owners, and the sleepy little village, while charming as ever, has become much more trendy and upscale. New places to stay, upscale water holes and eating establishments have flourished and even night life for the younger set has come to life. And with a long unspoiled coastal beach from the Hatteras ferry all the way to the town itself, the beach is very popular with fishermen, shell collectors and swimmers alike. So, Ocracoke has a bright future excepting one issue that plagues the Outer Banks continually due to it's situation jutting out into the open Atlantic: STORMS. The entire coastline from the south at Cape Lookout to the north in Currituck is a veritable magnet for big storms and the locals have to take it in stride. With a similar tradition to those to the north in Tangier and also having that unique Elizabethan accent, they know their fate is always as near as the next great storm to roll in. They have weathered many the storm and suffered many tragedies, yet they love their beach and land and plan to stay on until death due they part when their time on earth is done.
So, if you like unique treasures as places to visit and roam, you can't beat both Tangier and Ocracoke, nearly two hundred miles apart yet sharing a heritage that is worthy of the greatness of the building of America. Happy travels, my friends.