Norwalk Islands

Connecticut’s Norwalk Islands are a nearly six-mile-long chain of over twenty small islands in the Long Island Sound about a mile off the coasts of the cities of Norwalk and Westport, Connecticut. These islands, originally created by the remnants of glaciers, are recreational destinations for a wide variety of outdoor adventurists for everything from kayaking to camping to bird watching to clamming.

City dwellers from New York City, Long Islanders, and those from Connecticut and surrounding areas are known to frequent the islands during periods of warm weather to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, traffic noise, and the pressures of everyday living to kick back and relax for a day, a weekend, or possibly longer if their work schedules allow. The view from the islands is amazing and is outlined by the distant skyscrapers of New York City.

Ownership of the Norwalk Islands varies as some are privately owned, some are owned by the cities of Norwalk and Westport and other public entities, while others are included as a part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge due to the abundance and variety of wildlife, plants, and wildflowers, and the presence of rare species found on these islands. Deer are known to swim to the islands and harbor seals are often seen near certain islands. Several assorted laws are in place to protect the islands themselves and the wildlife that inhabit them. Visitors to the islands are restricted as too how close they can get to wildlife and are prohibited from harassing the animals in any way. These rules help to preserve the natural beauty of the islands and their appeal to locals and tourists alike as a haven of recreation and relaxation.

The Norwalk Islands vary greatly in size, making them even more intriguing to their visitors. Each island, both the large ones and the small ones are named and have their own special unique features. Following is a brief description of the four largest islands:

Chimon Island- Chimon’s 59 acres are located in the middle of the Norwalk chain and is a part of the McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. Boaters are allowed to land on the northwest shore of the island during the day year round, however overnight camping is prohibited.

Cockenoe Island- Cockenoe is owned by the town of Westport and is known for its unique birds. Overnight camping is allowed on this island although there are restrictions governing it.

Shea Island- Shea, formerly known as “Ram Island”, was renamed “Shea Island” after a Vietnam War hero by the name of Daniel Shea. Shea is difficult to reach by boat due to its rocks and boulders but is open to the public from May until mid-October.

Sheffield Island- Sheffield is the second largest and located the farthest south of the islands. It is also a part of the McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and is known for its birds and harbor seals. Their are a variety of boat and land tours that feature Sheffield Island. Its historic lighthouse is especially significant and is visited by many people each year.

The Norwalk Islands, located off the coast of Connecticut, in the Long Island Sound feature a great deal of natural beauty and are a summer and weekend getaway for city-dwellers, tourists, and even the locals.