Manitou Islands

-- Last Updated: Aug-11-08 1:27 PM EST --

Heading to the Manitou islands this Friday weather permitting. Looking for info on kayaking, camping, Departure site, etc from those that have made the trip. How long was your paddle? Which island did you visit? How long was your stay? What did you do?
Thanks, Jim

Hey Jim
Check out the trip report I put in Places2Paddle. It is a cool trip, though if you paddle out be prepared to get stuck on the island if weather comes up. Take hiking shoes, a dive mask, and enjoy.


Great Trip Report…Thanks Randy!
I hope Rachael is still there.

I have not been there by kayak yet,
but I have it at the top of my list. The shortest crossing is from Glen Haven to the southest shore of South Manitou. I think you can park at the beach in Glen Haven, but you should check with the DNR. The crossing is about 7 miles (6.5 on my garmin). My more experienced friends have cautioned me not to take the crossing lightly, so be prepared. If it looks iffy, the area around Glen Arbor is a great paddle (the Homestead around south to the dunes). Another great alternative is Big and Little Glen Lake including the Crystal River(gets shallow as you move towards the lake).I love this area and dream about it constantly.Enjoy! Bill

Thanks Bill
I appreciate the info and the caution. There a just two of us going and we will watch the weather carefully.


North and South…
We just did a day trip over to South Manitou last week. I can’t imagine kayaking over except on the best of best days… We took the ferry over and it was a good ride as long as ya didn’t get sick. The island itself was great! Beautiful lookouts giving spectacular views! One thing… The bugs were BAD!!! campers were begging for any bug juice from us daytrippers. Anyways, the trip back was REALLY, REALLY ROUGH! they crew said 8-10 footers. We needed a bigger boat! Anyways, they quit running at 10-12 footers they said. Anyways, unless you’re very skilled, this isn’t a crossing for ya…

Just keep an eye out
We crossed over on a Friday morning with 3 footers. Paddled all day Sat in mild chop and snorkeled on a half dozen wrecks. Sunday we awoke to a forecast of 3 to 4 footers and started off. We turned around after a while to find out the forecast changed while we were out to 5 footers. So we hiked and swam and drank and went home Monday morning in 3 footers. Just check the forecasts, add a safety factor, and enjoy. BTW make sure to file a float plan on either side before you leave. The NPS likes to know who is where in case they need to rescue.


took a trip last summer
and we had the manitou islands shuttle boat take our kayaks out to the south island. We dumped out there and went over to the west side of the island and got to kayak in a half sunken vessel on the southwest side of that island. Then we went back past the dock and east which took us on the crossing over to the north island. I believe that was about a 2 mile crossing. We spent a couple days backpacking and camping on the north island before hittin the yaks again and going around the south end over to the dock for a pickup on the east side of the island. Pretty cool area…need I say more…have fun. check out this link:

That sounds like the way to go…

Manitou Trip Report
Bill and I set off from Kalamazoo Friday afternoon and arrived at Glen Haven in the late afternoon. We packed the usual gear, food and two kayaks. A CD Caribou and a Soltice GTS.

Checked the NOAA report and hit the water to get a visual. Waves were 1-2 foot and confirmed by another kayaker who says he was out in ‘open’ water.

Left a verbal float plan with the ranger and launched at 7:15. About 1 hour into the trip the waves increased to 2-4 ft. Some sets of waves seemed higher and we sprinted and back paddled to avoid them. With a rush of adrenaline and a south wind we were able to make excellent time of the 8 mile crossing. We landed on the Manitou beach at 9:00 pm.

Found a campsite in the dark set up the tent, fed the mosquitoes and hit the sack. Woke Saturday to calm winds in the morning with the forecast calling for winds 15-20 knots and 4-7 foot waves.

We hiked out to the wreck of the Fredrick Moran, the Old Growth Cedars and back to camp. In the afternoon we hiked to the farms and cemetary.

Saturday evening there was never a let up in the winds and the same was forecast for Sunday, our departure day. We could sit in the tent and watch the floor rise and fall in the wind like a human lung.

Because of the new Sunday forecast of 15-25 knot winds and 4-7 foot waves we canceled the plan to paddle back and we went to Plan B.

We packed the boats and headed to the ferry. They made room for us and the two kayaks as we had no reservations. The ferry trip was longer than usual getting to Leland because the skipper had to tack back and forth to avoid getting broadsided by the large waves.

Next obstacle was to secure a ride from Leland back to our car. It is helpful that our boats attracted a lot of attention because in no time at all we had found a guy to give us a ride.

Thanks to all that gave advice! Jim

s manitou
There is plenty to see onland so make sure you spend timeonland

Old Histric 1865 Lighthouse

Old Town with sailor cemetary is awesome.

Shipwreck SanFansisco Morizon on the south shore.

A couple old wooden schooner hulls along the s.w shore.

Climb the 600 foot dunes to the top or take the road behind to the trail to the top. You can see Wisconsin well from the top. See the Ghost Forest ontop of the dunes too.

Also visit the old cedar tree grove. Has the largest and oldest cedar trees in the state of Michigan.

The shipwreck is the Francisco Morazan, and as I recall the oldest northern white cedar in the world in on the island, though no longer standing, making one in Canada the current record holder.

Great trip Randy, though not nearly long enough even with the extra day. :wink: