Swimming in History on the Miss Hampton II Harbor Tour

A great way to introduce yourself to the Hampton Roads area is to take a harbor tour out of historic downtown Hampton, VA, on the Miss Hampton II.

Hampton is swimming in history, which the harbor tour brings to life. Four hundred years of European settlement is highlighted, from the earliest arrival of European ships on the “Strawberry Banks” of Point Comfort (so named, because those aboard the first ships were suffering from scurvy, and saw banks filled with wild strawberries to today’s use of the harbor as a recreational marina, shipyards, a commercial port, and the Norfolk Naval Base.

During the tour, which generally lasts 3 hours, you will pass historic Hampton University, numerous marinas, Blackbeard’s Point, and two historic forts: Monroe and Wool.

​You are traveling historic waters: not only will you be traveling on the same waters of Captain John Smith and the First Settlers of the United States, but the harbor tour takes you past the site of the famous Civil War battle of the Ironclads.

It is likely you will see dolphins — we did, numerous times — and if you’re lucky, a submarine or other military vessels cruising into or out of the Norfolk Naval Base.

The cruise will take you to the man-made island, atop which is Fort Wool for a 45-minute guided walking tour of the Civil War era fort (weather permitting). The harbor tour is the only way to see Fort Wool, unless you own or rent a boat and travel across the harbor on your own. Hampton maintains Fort Wool as a city park; if you visit without a guided tour, there are numerous placards providing a discussion of what you are seeing.

The tour continues past historic Fort Monroe and the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse.

Old Point Comfort Light is a lighthouse located on the grounds of
Fort Monroe in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay. It is the second
oldest light in the bay and the oldest still in use.
But really, the highlight of this tour is cruising past the massive warships at the Norfolk Naval Base, home to aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines, and various types of support ships.

You also will see everything you might expect of a deep channel working harbor: commercial container ships, tugboats (so cute), channel dredgers, clamming work boats, and Coast Guard ships.

Getting there: 710 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton, VA 23669

Hours: Check website for specifics, but the tours generally run April 25 thru October 31, Tuesday thru Saturday, departs 11 a.m., returns 2 p.m. (approx); Sunday, departs 2 p.m., returns 5 p.m.

Website: https://www.misshamptoncruises.com/harbor-tour

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Accommodations during our stay in Hampton, VA were provided by Embassy Suites by Hilton Hampton Roads Hotel, Spa, and Convention Center.