Destination Michigan Islands

By Jeff Wellman

You don’t have to travel to the tropics to enjoy an island vacation. Michigan is home to several island destinations where you can escape and relax, surrounded by beautiful water views.

The waters of the Great Lakes that encircle Michigan are dotted with 35,000 islands. While most are undeveloped and inaccessible, the islands that are accessible are spectacular ports of call. Many of the islands make great destinations for day trips. The islands also have overnight accommodations where you can spend a whole week immersing yourself in island life.

Mackinac Island – Mackinac Island is Michigan’s most well-known island. Visitors from all over the country and even the world come to this island where horses and bicycles are the main modes of transportation since automobiles aren’t allowed. Mackinac Island sits in the Straits of Mackinac, the meeting point between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. This island is visible from the Mackinac Bridge. Ferry transportation to the island is available from both sides of the bridge. Boats leave from Mackinaw City on the south end and from St. Ignace on the north. On the island, the Victorian architecture, historical buildings, and horses and carriages transport you to another time when life was slower-paced. A day trip is enough time to tour the island’s main attractions and browse the unique shops. Stay longer and explore the trails on the island, see the island’s natural wonders, and take the eight-mile bike ride around the perimeter of the island. The island offers many well-appointed overnight accommodations.

Drummond Island – With 249 square miles, Drummond Island is the United States’ largest freshwater island. It’s a mile offshore from the eastern side of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and close to the Canadian border. More than 50 percent of the island is state land. This island feels remote, but still has access to modern amenities. Parts of the island are developed with roads and homes. A ferry from DeTour Village provides access to the island. The ferry will also transport your car or RV for use on the island. Vacation rentals and B&Bs provide overnight accommodations. The island has a few restaurants and shops. Outdoor recreation is a big draw for people who visit. Hiking, ORV trails, and boating are some of the more popular activities. 

Isle Royale National Park – Isle Royale is the country’s least visited state park because it’s not easy to get there. The natural beauty of the island’s unspoiled wilderness makes the difficult trip worth it, however. Located 53 north of Copper Harbor in Lake Superior, the island is very remote. It’s all undeveloped except for a lodge and a few cabins that provide overnight accommodations. The island’s only restaurant is in the lodge. Visitors must bring any other food or purchase it from the limited selection at the park store. 

Most visitors tent camp on the island’s rustic sites. No wheeled vehicles are allowed on the island, so everything has to be carried in on hiking trails or transported by kayak. Don’t expect your cell phone to work there, either. Activities in the park include hiking and paddling the waters around the island. Seaplane and boat are the only transportation to Isle Royale. Ferries travel to the island from both Houghton and Copper Harbor. You need to plan more than a day to visit the island because of the length of the ferry ride.

Jeff Wellman
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