Bear Island Apostles

I want to visit bear island in the Apostles.has anyone been there?I read theirs a large hemlock grove on it and terraserver images seem to bear this out.first off is it safe ever to take an open canoe out there,i have a kayak but my wife is claustrophobic in them.second is their another way out there cheaper then the water taxi which is 390 kahonas:-(

Thanks for any info:-)


great island
but it is a fair paddle from the mainland and considering the open water of the Lady, I wouldn’t suggest a canoe. We just paddled up there a few weeks back and smacked with a storm just off the coast of Bear. Not something I would have liked to weather in a open canoe.

Trek and Trail
Trek and Trail rents kayaks in Bayfield but not sure what they’ve got. They will make you take a safety course before you can rent which will teach you about wet exits, etc.

Bear Island is a good paddle away from the mainland. You may be able to get there in an open canoe or a kayak without a skirt but it’s a couple or few crossings of a few miles each (to the closest point, and it’s a big island). Each of those crossings might take you an hour or more and the weather can change quickly. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it but I’m sure it’s been done before.

I’ve stopped at the sandspit a few times as a rest stop but never camped there. You’ll see “no trespassing” signs back in the woods where a couple of cabins are, but my understanding is that the sand spit is fair game to land on as long as you stay away from the cabins. Should be fine on the rest of the island though.

trek n trail

I"ve already checked out trek and trail and dont think I"ll be going that way.50 bucks per person for a safety course I don"t need and 15 bucks if i bring the boat back with sand on it?I don"t think"ll get sand on it dragging it out of the water.I know all about wet exiting and can show my wife how to do that.her thing is being confined and if she flips and becomes even stuck for a second she"ll freak.I"ll get my own double kayak and take her there myself next year.the place sounded like a ripoff to me.

thanks for the info though.I may skip the apostles this year and just go to sylvania and hungry the apostles for when she has a yake of her own or we have a big double.


Trek and Trail sounds pretty reasonable
$50 for a 3 hour lesson is a really decent price. And it is their kayaks, their rules and really, their butt on the line. I paddled from the beach in front of the store last year, once to catch an awesome rainbow at dusk and then the next morning to Basswood Island and back. They offered me a shower and cocoa when I finished up. I spent a few hours on Superior with my decks awash with oncoming waves and later surfing those waves back to Two Harbors. I did broach a couple of times on larger waves. I suggest reading " The Loss of a Son" in the August 2005 Sea Kayaker. Happy paddling. Have fun and be safe.

i can see my wife taking the course but I have ocean experience.I"ve never broached which is good because I have never been able to learn to if the course includes learning to roll then it’s worth it and i know the lake can be as bad as the ocean around here so I"m not belittleing superior to me it’s like a rental car agency forcing me to take a driving course to rent a car.maybe we need kayaking licenses?just joking.


Paddling on Superior in no game and paddling out to Bear is not something that should be taken lighly. The main problem with Superior is that bad weather can appear in a minute regardless of what the forecast is predicting. Wind and waves combined with cold water can prove fatal.

Paddling a kayak without a sprayskirt is a recipe for disaster. Even small swells on the lake are going to slowly fill your boat with water and if any real weather conditions appear…

People have and do paddle the lake on open canoes, especially in Canada. But you need to be a very experienced paddler to make this work. Again, assume wind and waves will be with you at all times. It’s great when they’re not, but they often are.

I was up in the islands all last week. Most days saw the winds in the 5-15 knot range with very minor waves. The exceptions were the weekend before last when a huge storm popped up with winds estimated at 100 mph. This was at 11:20am on a Sunday, prime paddling time.

Monday evening another storm came through with winds in the 40’s. Both storms moved in quickly.

Go with a guide or a group your first time out in the Islands. If your wife is uncomfortable with a closed cockpit or sprayskirt she needs to either get comfortable or find another sport.

The north beach on Bear is a great spot. Just be careful in getting there.

I took that class five years ago when I went on one of their trips. I was experienced enough at that point but didn’t mind another rescue practice. It’s their liability insurance so their rules. They don’t teach rolls, just the basic wet exit and paddlefloat re-entry - or at least this was the case at the time. They also taught basic strokes seeing as a couple of people on this trip were very new to paddling. I also got a card saying that I had taken their class and was OK to rent from them for a period of time (3 years maybe).

I agree with all the other responses - often it’s calm especially this time of year but that can change in an instant.

ACA QuickStart
It’s called the ACA QuickStart Course and is pretty standardized. You can download the outline and other ACA course info at:

Try Living Adventures
Another outfitter just north of Bayfield, in Red Cliff.