A wonderful and successful trip to the Manitou Islands requires some planning before you go.
Access to North and South Manitou Islands is by private boat or by passenger ferry service run by Manitou Island Transit (231-256-9061). The ferry service operates from the Fishtown Dock located in Leland, MI. The ferry operators have been servicing the islands for many generations and the company is still run as a family business.
Reservations are recommended. Plan to arrive at the Fishtown dock 45 minutes prior to departure. Leland is located 27 miles north of Empire on M-22. The following suggestions are offered to help you have a safe and enjoyable visit. The boat trip can be cool even in summer, so plan ahead and bring a jacket.
On your way to the islands you will see the North Manitou Island Lighthouse Crib. It has become a favorite resting spot for the double-crested cormorant.
You will need a Park Pass
Visitors to North and South Manitou Island are required to secure an entrance pass to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Park passes are available at the Fishtown dock during the summer months.
What to bring
Bring rain gear. Wear comfortable hiking boots. Mosquitoes, flies and ticks are common in summer and fall, so wear clothes to cover arms and legs and bring some insect repellent.
Poison ivy is abundant; learn how to identify it and avoid contact. There is no food service, stores or medical centers on the islands. Emergency medical responders primarily come from the mainland which can take hours to days depending on weather.
Returning to the mainland
Rangers and ferry crew will tell you when to return to the dock for the return trip. If you will be staying for a few days, check in with the ranger to be sure when the boat will arrive. Weather conditions or other issues may cause the schedule to change. Don't miss the boat!