The city of Norwalk in the heart of Fairfield County is surrounded by a necklace of islands. As a matter of fact, there are approximately 23 islands located off the coast of this robust seaside city.
The islands range in size from 60 acres to sandy bars barely emerging from the water. Tidal currents are gentle and the scenic mainland is always visible. On a clear day, Manhattan's skyscrapers are visible.
Geologists generally consider the islands to be terminal moraines — material left by glaciers. Above water, the moraines are characterized by various rocks, gravel, sand, silt and clay. Some historians have speculated that rocks from the islands were used as ballast for sailing ships returning to New York, where the rocks may have been used for cobblestones.
Today, many of these islands are privately owned, some with residents living on them seasonally and others year-round.
The islands of Chimon and Sheffield are part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and they are open to the public with some limited or restricted access to parts of the island seasonally due to the bird nesting season.
The City of Norwalk owns Shea Island and Grassy Island, both are open to the public. Cockenoe Island is owned by the town of Westport.
The islands are located about one mile off shore and provide canoeists and kayakers with daylong sightseeing, wind sheltered, and open-water scenic paddling experiences.
Overnight camping is permitted on Shea, Grassy and Cockenoe Islands. Please note that no fresh water is supplied to the islands.