When you hear the words “island getaway,” perhaps you imagine tropical beaches in the Caribbean or expensive resorts in Thailand. But there’s no need to break the bank for a beautiful island holiday. Instead, take a trip to one of Michigan’s most gorgeous natural destinations: the Manitou Islands.
The Manitou Islands are situated approximately 15 miles west of shore near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Leland is the closest town to the islands, and it’s here that your journey will begin.
Getting to the islands is relatively simple: hop on a ferry from Leland or hire a private boat, then prepare for the ultimate Michigan getaway.
South Manitou, the smaller of the two islands, boasts a combination of fascinating history and breathtaking natural beauty. The island was once home to a bustling settlement of farmers, immigrants, an even a Coast Guard station — most of which are now gone, leaving a series of small ghost towns to be explored.
The island also offers visitors a chance to experience its gorgeous scenery firsthand. Wagon tours of the thick cedar forests are available, and the area is ripe with beautiful sand dunes.
Whether you’re checking out South Manitou’s lighthouse, exploring nearby shipwrecks in the Manitou Passage State Underwater Preserve, or simply camping near the beautiful beach, your visit to the south island won’t soon be forgotten.
A visit to North Manitou Island offers similar charms. The area, which contains 15,000 acres of land, is large enough to make you feel like you’re the only one visiting. This sense of peace draws visitors to the island every year.
Throughout North Manitou, you’ll find a different series of ghost towns, as well as a few inland lakes that are just waiting to be explored.
North Manitou Island is a prime spot to see a variety of birds, native (and non-native) flowers, and other flora and fauna. You might even spot a bald eagle passing over your campsite.
So pack up your tent, grab a few friends, and get ready for the ultimate Michigan weekend on North or South Manitou Island — you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Tell us: have you ever visited the Manitou Islands? Do you have a preference between the two?