The only way to get to Smith Island is by boat. Ferries, run by different companies/captains, leave from Crisfield or Tylerton, Maryland, twice a day (12:30pm & 5pm), but check for seasonal schedules.
You must leave your car behind in the municipal or ferry parking lots, although the ferries will take kayaks and bicycles for an extra fee.
There are several boats that leave promptly at 12:30pm from Crisfield:
- The cruise boat, Twister or Chelsea Lane Tyler, large double-decker boats with an air-conditioned first level & restrooms. They leaves out of Somers Cove Marina
- The mailboat, Island Belle II, a working boat that leaves from the City Dock. You’ll sit on plastic lawn chairs
- A ferryboat, Capt. Jason I, also departing from City Dock. This is also a working boat, often taking supplies to the islands. It’s open and visitors sit on plastic lawn chairs.
- You can also arrange for a charter on a working boat to leave and return at different times. You negotiate the price with the Captain. This should be arranged in advance because you’ll often be scheduling around their loading times.
All boats charge about the same and leave at the same time. If you take a boat from City Dock, check to see if they’re returning that day. The double-decker boats always return the same day.
The smaller boats are work boats and do double-duty as ferries, but you get personal service. Also, you can arrange to take canoes, kayaks and bicycles on the smaller boats. It’s a good idea to arrange that in advance.
It’ll take about 45 minutes to an hour to get there by boat from Crisfield. Once there, the ferry will return about 4pm. That doesn’t leave much walking around time if you decide to stop for lunch. It’s about enough time to see the main island. If you want to travel across the marsh to Rhodes Point, you’ll need to hire transportation.
Once there, you can rent a golf cart or bicycle. But the island is small and walking is the main way of getting around. There’s a limited number of carts and bicycles, if you decide to rent one go directly to the side door of the Bayside Inn when you get off the boat to make arrangements.
If arriving by boat, call ahead to the Smith Island Marina to check on availability and space. At the fuel dock, be prepared to pay cash or wait until they’re able to run the card at the B&B. Tip the kids helping out at the dock, but the professional dock master does not expect tips.
Island tours are available. You can rent a golf cart or bicycle, or go to Rukes restaurant and you may run into a John, a retired U.S. Navy petty officer typically sporting a Navy baseball cap, for a tour in an air conditioned van. He points out that unlike a golf cart tour his van is bug free.