Hoopers Island is actually a chain of three small islands in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay -- Upper, Middle and Lower Hoopers Island. The principal community, of about 400 people, is known as Fishing Creek. It is on Upper Hoopers Island. Lower Hoopers Island is no longer inhabited.
The community here has deep roots, running back to the mid-seventeenth century, when Henry Hooper found it a nice place for a tobacco plantation. In the hundred years, Hooper Island converted from a tobacco community to a fishing economy, hauling crabs and especially oysters out of the once rich Bay. Today the community, like nearly all the proud Chesapeake watermen communities, is under threat from fish stocks depleted by pollution and from rising waters.
Hoopers Island is a good long drive from the nearest town, but it's a beautiful ride. Hoopers Island Rd (MD-335) is the one land route in. It's a simple route from Cambridge—just take MD-16 south, then turn left on MD-335. The drive takes you through parts of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The bridges from island to island are beautiful!
Hoopers Island isn't full of sightseeing attractions—it is the sightseeing attraction. Its setting is beautiful, and a great place to take in a Chesapeake sunset.
- Hooper's Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse dating from 1901 is easy enough to find, since you can see it from just about anywhere on the island if you look to the west. It is one of the U.S.' rare pneumatic caisson lighthouses.
- Phillips Seafood Factory. No longer in operation, the birthplace of the venerable Chesapeake seafood institution, which operates seafood restaurants throughout the Mid-Atlantic, offers tours during the summer.
- Sawyer Charters & Tours, Hoopers Island, ☎ 410-397-3743, . Enjoy either a fishing trip to catch trophy size striped bass and other species or take a scenic cruise and narrated tour to learn the history and folklore of the region with USCG licensed captains. Crab feasts aboard available.
- Sawyer Charters & Tours, Hoopers Island, ☎ 410-397-3743, . Enjoy either a fishing trip on the Bay to catch trophy size striped bass & other species or take a scenic cruise, narrated tour of the area, or crab feast aboard the 50 ft. Sawyer vessel, with USCG licensed captains to learn of the history and folklore of the region.
Eat and Drink
- Old Salty's, 2560 Hoopers Island Rd, Fishing Creek, ☎ +1 410 397-3752. Great views over the water and as-fresh-as-it-gets seafood hauls are the reasons to come here. That and the fact that it's the only full-service restaurant on the island. Nothing about the place is fancy, but who needs a fancy restaurant when you could experience the local hospitality of the Chesapeake watermen! There is also a general store with food and gasoline, a boat hard with supplies, and a post office. There are also a number of active crab wholesale packing houses, oyster growing businesses, and a marina.
Unless you have family here, you won't find a place to stay overnight on the islands, unless you rent one of the few homes available for a weekend or week's stay. The closest overnight off the island is about 25 minutes away near Taylor Wildlife Preserve just off Smithville Rd on the way to Cambridge:
- Tobacco Stick Inn, 1343 Taylor's Island Rd, Madison, ☎ +1 410 330-1124, . A small, historic B&B in the tiny community of Madison, surrounded by wild lands and wildlife.
- Beautiful Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is back up the road towards Cambridge. You can also stop at Emily's Produce on Route 16 heading toward Cambridge for fresh produce, baked goods and other yummies from late spring into the fall.
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