Much of the terrain along the circle tour is flat and well-suited to bicycling. If you have access to bikes and a car rack, consider taking them along. WHERE TO STAY: ft,ngoth rr From interesting bed-and-breakfast homes to small inns, mom-and-pop motels and campsites, there are many varieties of lodging, among them:

Hilda Crockett's Chesapeake House, P.O. Box 214, Tangier Island, Va. 23440, (804) 891-2331. There are eight rooms, none with private bath. Rates are $26 per person, including dinner and breakfast.

Kitching's Inn, Ewell, Smith Island, Md. 21824, (301) 425-3321. The inn has 13 rooms, none with private bath. Rates for rooms in the main house are $38 single, $70 double, including dinner and breakfast.

Miss Molly's Inn, 113 N. Main St., Chincoteague, Va. 23336, (804) 336-6686. Rates are $55 to $79 for two, including full breakfast and afternoon tea. There is a two-day minimum stay on the weekends. The inn also owns The Little Traveler, a pre-Civil War home across the street, which has six bedrooms, ranging from $55 to $75 for two, also with breakfast and tea.

Channel Bass Inn, 100 Church St., Chincoteague, Va. 23336, (804) 336-6148. This 10-room inn in a restored 1870s mansion includes a gourmet restaurant serving continental and Spanish Basque cuisine. Rooms range from $95 to $165 per night, all with private bath. No pets or children under 10 are permitted.

Holly Brook Plantation, Rte. 13, Eastville, Va. 23347, (804) 678-5057. Rates are $150 per couple, $80 for an individual, including full breakfast. Dinners can be arranged.

King Carter Inn, P.O. Box 425, Irvington, Va. 22480, (804) 438-6053. The inn has nine rooms, six with private bath; rates are $35 to $45 single, $50 to $55 double, including full breakfast.

Inn at Montross, P.O. Box 908, Montross, Va. 22520, (804) 493-9097. There are six rooms with private bath; rates are $55 single, $65 double, including continental breakfast.

Bed and Breakfast of Tidewater, P.O. Box 3343, Norfolk, Va. 23514, (804) 627-1983. This is a central listing of bed and breakfasts located throughout the Tidewater area. TRANSPORTATION: Your car is obviously the chief mode of transport on this journey, and bicycles are a good idea for side trips. But boats are, of course, essential for the islands. Among them:

From Crisfield to Tangier Island: Capt. Rudy Thomas, (301) 968-2338. Capt. Thomas and his son operate both the regularly scheduled mail boat ($16 per person round trip) and a boat offering lunch-time cruises to Tangier Island. The five-hour lunch cruise is $14 round trip, plus $9.50 for a family-style seafood lunch on the island.

From Crisfield to Smith Island: Capt. Otis Ray Tyler, (301) 425-4271, or the Harbor Side Restaurant, (301) 425-2201; $5 round trip.

From Reedville to Tangier: Capt. Tommy Pearson and Capt. Linwood Bowis, (804) 333-4656. Rates are $16 round trip for adults, $8 for children 13 and under. WHERE TO EAT: There is an abundance of good seafood restaurants throughout the region. A few restaurants that I found unusual included:

Clayton's on the Creek, 108 Commerce St., Cambridge, Md., (301) 228-7200. Open 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. weekdays, 10 p.m. weekends.

The Owl, Rte. 13, R.F.D, Parksley, Va., 23421, (804) 665-5191. Open daily, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Calico House, Main Street, Irvington, Va., (804) 438-5285. Open for breakfast 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday; lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday; and dinner 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. WHAT TO DO: NASA/Wallops Flight Facility, on Rte. 175 six miles east of Rte. 13, Wallops Island, Va., (804) 824-3411. Visitors Center open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Monday.

The Chrysler Museum, Olney Road and Mowbray Arch, Norfolk, Va., (804) 622-1211. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. Douglas MacArthur Memorial, MacArthur Square, Norfolk, Va., (804) 441-2965. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free admission.

National Hard Crab Derby, held on Labor Day weekend in Crisfield, Md. Admission charge has not been announced, and food will be extra. Write to the National Hard Crab Derby & Fair, P.O. Box 215, Crisfield, Md. 21817.

Eastern Shore Seafood Festival, first Wednesday in May in Chincoteague, Va. All you can eat: The price this year was $17.50, but next year's charge has not been set. By ticket only. Write by October to: Eastern Shore of Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Accomac, Va. 23301.

Chincoteague Oyster Festival, held annually on the Saturday afternoon of Columbus Day weekend. $17 per person. By ticket from the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce, Box 258, Chincoteague, Va. 23336.