Eastern Shore Aquaculture – Oystering, Clamming, Crabbing, and Fishing

May 9, 2022

As dawn breaks over the Eastern Shore, you’ll spy lively activity on the water—and not just from the seabirds fishing for their breakfast. Hardworking watermen are also preparing their boats for the day’s harvest. Some vessels head out to sea to catch fresh fish and crab. Others position their rigs above shellfish farms to collect oysters and clams. But, no matter the delicacy, they all gather the best of the best local seafood for all to enjoy. At Bay Creek, we’re grateful to have such a thriving, responsible aquaculture industry in and around our charming hometown of Cape Charles.

As the most popular industry in Virginia, aquaculture brings in an impressive $28 million annually. And out of the entire U.S., the beloved Eastern Shore is the top producer of clams and oysters. Those highly beneficial bivalves help improve water quality, making what’s already good even better. Fresh seafood, after all, is an integral part of what makes this area so successful and special. Thanks to the local watermen and aquaculturists, it’s been that way for centuries. If you’re a seafood lover, Cape Charles is undoubtedly the perfect place to savor it. For the most delectable bounty, we’re sharing some of the best places to obtain your favorites, as well as a few restaurants that specialize in locally-sourced seafood.

Cherrystone Aqua-Farms

This fifth-generation, over 100-year-old, family-owned business claims to have the “finest shellfish growing grounds in the world” – and we believe them. Located right here in Cape Charles, Cherrystone Aqua-Farms offers a wide variety of delicious clams and oysters, shucking tools, apparel, and more. While they don’t handle walk-in sales, you can easily place your order online for delivery or curbside pick-up.

R&C Seafood

Located on the eastern side of Cape Charles, R&C Seafood is a seafood wholesaler and retailer. They offer oysters (either shucked or in the shell) and clams. As you can tell from their multiple 5-star reviews on Facebook, patrons love buying their seafood here. They declare, “Outstanding Seafood! The best folks to work with!” “Best seaside salts you will ever eat!” and “Best place for salty seaside oysters and clams.” Find R&C Seafood at 21377 Crumb Hill Rd next to the Oyster Boat Ramp.

TW & Sons Seafood

TW & Sons is a family of local watermen who specializes in fresh seafood that, quite literally, comes directly from the boat. They often have fresh-caught flounder and blue crab available but check their Facebook page to see the day’s catch. Find TW & Sons at 22121 S Bayside Road in Cape Charles.

Now that you’ve acquired the best local seafood, you might be wondering how to prepare it. If you prefer to cook your oysters rather than enjoy them raw, we recommend New Orleans-Style Grilled Oysters – an easy recipe from Small’s Smokehouse + Oyster Bar. For clams, try this delicious Blue Crab Bay Co. recipe for steaming them in white wine and garlic butter as featured by Eastern Shore of Virginia Wine & Brine.

And if you don’t feel like cooking, we completely understand. Instead, try these top-notch local eateries:

Oyster Farm Seafood Eatery

An Eastern Shore favorite for waterfront dining, Oyster Farm Seafood is a restaurant and marina located in historic Cape Charles. This establishment is renowned for stunning sunset views and scrumptious local seafood. The chefs utilize fresh, locally-sourced ingredients to create incredible water-to-table and freshly cooked culinary experiences – many say the Tidewater region’s best.

The Shanty

The Shanty is a casual eatery that serves steamer buckets and other fresh, local catch on a waterfront patio overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. Indulge in delicious seafood like homemade crab cakes, Caribbean-style tacos, or the daily catch with a nice, ice-cold draft. Locals love the creative daily specials, full bar, live entertainment, excellent service, and harbor-front outdoor seating.

The Coach House Tavern

Of course, we have to mention Bay Creek’s exclusive neighborhood restaurant, which is open to Bay Creek club members, their guests, and resort guests. Under the helm of Chef Christian Lofland, The Coach House Tavern offers an Eastern Shore-inspired menu that celebrates the flavors of this incredible region.

Like all of these local seafood purveyors, Bay Creek embodies life on the water. We pride ourselves on living in harmony with our environment…which is why we happily support the local aquaculture enterprises. Farmed shellfish, like oysters, are one of the most sustainable food options available today. And oyster shell recycling is a remarkable initiative that helps them thrive. Lucky for us, the Eastern Shore Community Services Board (ESCSB) offers a recycling program that helps rebuild natural oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay. The reefs play a vital role in habitat restoration, stabilizing shorelines, and water purification. And every recycled half shell establishes a new home for ten oysters. The clever motto for the program is, “If you shuck it, don’t chuck it!” Contact ESCSB at (757) 442-3933 for more information and find a nearby recycling location.

As you can tell, aquaculture plays an essential role in the thriving coastal town of Cape Charles. Every day, Bay Creek residents and resort guests savor the unparalleled beauty and bounty that’s distinctive of our Eastern Shore. Why not experience it for yourself? Visit Bay Creek and joyfully discover the many unique attributes of this spectacular area. Let’s start planning your visit today.

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