Find Your Island Style in Michigan

Make the journey beyond Michigan’s shoreline to a variety of island getaways where you can slow down and rejuvenate.

Mackinac Island coastline
Mackinac Island | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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Timeless Island Traditions

When planning a trip to one of Michigan’s islands, the state’s most famous island on Lake Huron always comes to mind. Mackinac Island is all about the classic nostalgic experience with car-free streets, fudge shops and peaceful exploration by foot, bike or horse-drawn carriage. Visitors can step even further into the past at Fort Mackinac, an 1800s military outpost that features reenactment demonstrations and exhibits.

Don’t overlook a trip to the nearby Bois Blanc Island, a ferry ride away on the Straits of Mackinac. Here you can find a serene getaway with quiet hiking trails, wildlife viewing and more.

An Exhilarating Retreat

Coastline of a forested island in Lake Huron
CORV on Drummond Island | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

Drummond Island is a popular (and well-populated) island destination located off the eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula. Here you can go off-roading on the largest closed loop off-road trail system. There are also a variety of things to do for maritime enthusiasts like shipwreck diving or taking a boat ride to DeTour Reef Lighthouse and smaller, uninhabited islands. There are also unique activities like collecting Puddingstone (Jasper conglomerate), a colorful rock that is abundant on the island and available in local shops.

Winding Through Waterways

Les Cheneaux Islands – meaning “the channels” in French – is an archipelago of 36 small islands in the Upper Peninsula, defined by Lake Huron’s waters. You can explore multiple islands by kayak (try a sunset or a moonlight paddle!), take a lighthouse cruise and attend the annual Les Cheneaux Antique Wooden Boat Show. On land, find wooded trails, charming boutique shopping and golfing at Les Cheneaux Golf Club.

Uncrowded Adventures

A female moose standing in water near a forest
Moose on Isle Royale | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan’s largest island in Lake Superior, is a spacious and rugged place to play in peace. In fact, the National Park Service named this park one of the quietest and most secluded of the national park system. You can get there by boat or seaplane and reach 450-plus islands for off-the-grid activities like hiking, backpacking and kayaking. The park is open to visitors April 16–October 31, and the only permanent residents of the islands are the wildlife – which includes the famous moose and wolf populations.

Also part of the national park system are the serene and remote Manitou Islands, part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  

Where History and Nature Intertwine

Beaver Island is the largest island in Lake Michigan (and the third largest in the state). Accessible by ferry from Charlevoix, Beaver Island is only 13 miles long and part of a larger archipelago that includes 13 more islands. It has a unique history – most notably when a local religious leader proclaimed himself king in the mid-1800s. In 1857, there was an influx of Irish fishermen, which inspired the island’s modern nickname of “America’s Emerald Isle.”

Today, Beaver Island is a relaxed place for Michiganders to enjoy wildlife, nature, stargazing and the charming island vibe in St. James.

Island Escapes in Southeast Michigan

A greenhouse next to a large koi pond
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

Michigan’s islands aren’t limited to Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Check out these islands that are just a short drive from Detroit and Southeast Michigan’s port towns. Belle Isle is located on the Detroit River and offers a charming escape to sites like the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and the Belle Isle Aquarium. In the evening enjoy a sunset on the island’s shore and views of Detroit’s skyline. More islands include:

  • Grosse Ile is a fun, family-friendly retreat where the Detroit River meets Lake Erie. Explore bike and nature trails as well as seasonal events hosted by the island’s local community.  
  • West of Gross Ile in the Detroit River, you can paddle a kayak through the wildlife-rich marshland of Humbug Island – part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
  • Harsens Island is located in the St. Clair River Delta about an hour from Detroit. Here you can find fantastic fishing, wildlife, beaches and small-town charm.