Presquile Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of those hidden treasures. Access to the island is by permit only that is easily obtainable from the Fish and Wildlife Service. Located in Chesterfield County, Virginia on the James River across from the Historic Shirley Plantation. Access to the island is from the FWS ramp on the Chesterfield County shoreline.
This paddle was a group event, and I went as an assistant organizer of one of the local kayaking groups. We launched from the ramp and paddled the short crossing to the island. It was an easy paddle.
Paddlers who plan to come to circumnavigate the island or to explore the island should be aware that there is also commercial traffic on the river as well as recreational boats. The total distance of circumnavigation around the island is 6.46 miles and well worth the effort.
The area is tidal so before you go out Google the views of the island from both a topo and hybrid view. Plan your route.
There are some exposed shipwrecks that dot the mainland shoreline, a short paddle away on the Eastern tip of the island.
To really appreciate the island, paddle in on the larger SE Side creek that offers some unique sightings of wildlife such as whitetail deer, southern bald eagles, herons.
The refuge is part of the Atlantic Flyway Program and access to landing on the island is restricted to the North landing site. The area has trails to explore, there is no camping or fires permit on the island. It's a day trip well worth making.
Nearby in Chester, Virginia and the City of Hopewell there are numerous hotels.
For Camping there is the nearby Pocahontas State Park.
A permit is required to make landfall on the island
From their website:
>From Richmond, take Interstate 295 south to Route 10. Take Route 10 south/east toward Hopewell. Take a left on Route 827. Stay on 827, toward Bermuda Hundred, until you see the Refuge entrance. The gate will be locked unless prior arrangements have been made with the Refuge Complex headquarters.
Presquile National Wildlife Refuge link:
Available at NOAA.Gov. A free download of the pdf (adobe reader required) of Chartbook 12252 James River from Jordan Point to Richmond. Chart Pages 10& 11.
For a preliminary view of the area Google Earth is an excellent source for seeing the area first as to plan the paddle.