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Exploring Abandoned Houses on Cedar Island in Virginia

Abandoned boat on an island in Wachapreague, VA

An abandoned commercial fishing boat on the shore of Cedar Island

Update 5/19/14: Please check out the comments below this post and read the comment from Kirby (posted on 5/16/14). He informed me that this island is actually known as “Cedar Island”. He grew up visiting Cedar Island and provides some great context for these photos.

I’ve always been fascinated by abandoned structures and “urban exploration”, so when my friends and I found three abandoned homes and a large commercial fishing boat on Parramore Island off the coast of Virginia, I was ecstatic. Luckily, I had my camera with me.

Abandoned boat and houses in Wachapreague, VA

Far away shot of abandoned houses and boat on an island in Virginia.

Back in 2008, I started going on a yearly fishing trip to Wachapreague, VA with some college friends. My friend Jamie rallies us all together every Memorial Day weekend, as he’s been going on this same yearly trip with his Uncle since he was a wee lad, and now it’s a yearly tradition.

Wachapreague is a tiny little town on the eastern seaboard with around 250 full-time residents. It’s very quiet there, and cell phone reception is almost nonexistent, so it’s an excellent place to disconnect and relax.

On a typical day in Wachapreague, we wake up in the wee hours of the morning, pack the coolers full of bait (and beverages), rent a couple of 16 foot Carolina Skiffs, and fish in the eastern shore for fluke (summer flounder) for a few hours.

Wachapreague fishing

Then everyone heads east to one of the barrier islands (here’s a Google Maps link) to dock for lunch, drinks and other various shenanigans. Sometimes there’s a potato cannon.

Wachapreague island docking for lunch

I’ve seen remnants lying around on this particular island in the past that led me to believe that people used to live there… Like an old rusted undercarriage from a car.

Abandoned rusted car on Wachapreague island

We decided to do a little bit of exploring on the island, and we came across a rickety old house that was clearly abandoned long ago.

Abandoned house on Wachapreague island

It looks pretty inviting, right? Naturally, we had to see what was going on inside.

Abandoned house on Wachapreague island

Some other explorers had obviously arrived before us and made a mess of the place.

Inside abandoned house on Wachapreague island

The front deck had been washed away completely. Stepping out the front door would place you directly into the ocean.

Inside of an abandoned house on Wachapreague island

After poking around for a few minutes, we decided that one of us was probably going to fall through the floor if we stayed much longer.

We continued to make our way around the island. On the eastern side of the island, we found some more abandoned stuff… Two more old houses and a large commercial fishing boat!

Abandoned boat and houses in Wachapreague, VA

I was pretty fascinated by all of this, as I felt like we’d found something that not many people had seen. Sure, this island gets its fair share of visitors in the summer months, but it seems like most of them dock on the west side for lunch. I doubt many of them go exploring  or have much interest in abandoned houses and rusty old boats.

House on stilts off an island in Wachapreague, VA

As you can see in the photo above, we weren’t able to easily reach the house on the right, as it was pretty far out in the water, and our boats were anchored on the other side of the island.

We wandered over toward the house on the left first… Or what was left of it.

Remains of abandoned home on Wachapreague island in Virginia

My guess is that this house was on stilts at one point, and was likely displaced by the waves.

Remains of abandoned home on Wachapreague island in Virginia

Remains of abandoned home on Wachapreague island in Virginia

Stepping inside was a bit disorienting.

Inside abandoned home remains on Wachapreague

There were old boards with rusty nails everywhere, so we didn’t stay inside for very long…

Looking out the broken window at an abandoned fishing boat

We decided to take a closer look at the boat.

Abandoned commercial fishing boat on an island in Wachapreague, VA

Abandoned commercial fishing boat on an island in Wachapreague, VA

Aboard an abandoned commercial fishing boat on an island in Wachapreague, VA

We were able to board the ship pretty easily.

Aboard an abandoned fishing boat on Wachapreague island

 For maximum safety, we all wore flip flops. After all, no one wants to end up with tetanus.


It didn’t seem like many people had been on the boat since it ran aground. There was a little bit of (poorly done) graffiti, but a lot of the stuff inside the various rooms looked like it hadn’t been touched since the ship was still in use. If I recall correctly, there was still a bunch of tupperware and some old sodas inside of the fridge.

Inside of an abandoned fishing boat on Wachapreague island

This room still had a TV/VCR and some old stereo equipment in it.

Inside of an abandoned fishing boat on Wachapreague island

Here’s where the ship’s captain sat.

Trying out the captains seat in the bridge on an abandoned fishing boat on Wachapreague island

Captains seat in the bridge on an abandoned fishing boat

The captain’s chair has seen better days.

Captains seat in the bridge on an abandoned fishing boat on Wachapreague island

I’m sure that at one time this boat was part of a viable business, but sadly it got pwnt.

Dave on deck of an abandoned fishing boat on Wachapreague island

On deck of an abandoned fishing boat on Wachapreague island

The boat was pretty fascinating, but after exploring for a bit, we decided to head back to our little fishing boats and continue on our way.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go on the fishing trip this year. I’m told that the island is no longer there, as it was wiped out by storms – most likely Hurricane Irene. The boat is now much more difficult to reach, as it’s surrounded by water on a sand bar. I can only guess that the homes are in pieces scattered all over the place.

It’s all a bit sad, but I’m glad I got to experience all of this while it was still somewhat intact. I wonder how many homes were originally on this island?

By the way… Some fish are actually caught from time to time on these trips. I have proof!

Cooler full of fluke (summer flounder) in Wachapreague

Edit: Here’s a news story about the boat, Laura J, which apparently ran aground in 2010.

Also, this article from December 2014 confirms that the last house on the island has washed away.


  1. Amazing pics JV! Bring me some halibut fillets.

  2. Unreal place and photos, but what will be with this house in winter? Who could answer?

  3. Kirby Kollmansperger

    I’m glad you posted these pictures! The island you were on is actually called Cedar Island. My family, along with three other families, own the coast guard station on the far north end of the island. It’s no longer a working coast guard station but instead a summer get away that has been in my family for 50 years. I’ve grown up going there 8-10 times a year since I was born and have had a great time exploring all the abandoned properties. As for the houses: about 15 years ago a contractor decided to build about 15 houses on the shore that were all raised up on stilts. Over time, the beach receded and the houses were washed away. The boat washed up around 4 years ago. It had a malfunction and the occupants were rescued before the coast guard towed it to the coast and left it. Oh and that car you found, that was one of the many we have lost on the island. There are probably about 10 that have simply died while we were driving down the beach. We usually pay VERY little for the cars knowing that they’ll only last a couple of years. Thanks again for sharing!!

    • Comment by post author


      Wow, this is awesome information. I’m glad you found this post and were able to provide some context for the photos. Thank you for sharing!

      Have you been on the island lately? I’m told that the boat is no longer there. Did Hurricane Sandy wash it away?

    • Karen King

      Really great background/history. Fascinating

  4. Alex


    I was just there this weekend. The boat is still there. A house washed away completely on the south edge cedar island

    • Comment by post author


      Wow, that’s crazy. Thanks for letting me know! I’ll have to do a follow-up post the next time I make it out there for a fishing trip… Hopefully within the next year or two!

  5. sandy

    Was there this weekend. The boat is almost totally submerged. All the houses but one (the coast guard station) are all gone. The island is getting thinner and thinner. Still beautiful!

  6. Read

    Interesting, you found these houses. To the people that own them we knew they were there. Not abandon only broken into and torn up by people who dicovered them. The island Cedar is private. I hope no one discovers your home the next time your away.

  7. Response to read

    Read, if it’s been broken into and the owners left it, wouldn’t it still be abandoned? Lol
    Good try though.

  8. Tyler

    This is the most un accurate read I’ve ever seen about this boat and islands… you non locals really need to leave our stuff alone don’t like where you come from cool but don’t try to make our place like the one you left… I’ve been here 23 years and never read such an truthful article oh yea 23 years born and raised native of wachapreague have a good life

  9. Tawny Hilton

    I am feeling nostalgic today as I first went to Wachaprague 60 years ago this week. My adopted grandparents the smiths had a house called the Whileaway on 26 acres of land right on the Chesapeake with a 44 foot cabin cruiser also named the whileaway. Captain Greer worked for the smiths and would take us out fishing every day. I remember going to cedar Island where they would back the boat up and we would swim to the Island. Back then there was nothing on it as far as I was aware. We would collect the most beautiful Conch shells and walk from the Bay side to the ocean side which didn’t seem that far. The last time I was in Wachapraque was in the mid 70s and after grandma and Grandpa died I heard Uncle Clifford sold it to that marine research place right up the block from the entrance way of their property. Back in the 60s and early 7os the waters were abundant with fish . They would jump on all three hooks. I was told as a child that the Japanese. Trawlers scooped up most of the fish 🐟 and we would sit for hours without a bite. It was sad to hear about Cedar Island washing away. The ocean is full of many mysteries and I have enjoyed remembering my wonderful times in Wachaprague Va. and my going to cedar Island. ❤️

  10. Joseph Beauchemin

    I spent three nights on cedar Island in the early 80s (prob 82)

    It is a story my family still tells and those who have heard it ask to hear again…

    We still own some house lots that are under water.

    To Cedar Island!!

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