Discover tall ships, shipwrecks, islands and more when you explore Lake Huron

Getting out on the waters of Lake Huron can offer a new perspective and exciting adventure on this amazing freshwater sea.

Alpena Shipwreck Tours offers visitors a trip out on Lake Huron and an underwater view of the shipwreck W.P. Rend. Photo: NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Alpena Shipwreck Tours offers visitors a trip out on Lake Huron and an underwater view of the shipwreck W.P. Rend. Photo: NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Lake Huron is – by surface area – the third largest freshwater lake in the world. As a Michigan Sea Grant and MSU Extension educator I often get a first-hand look at all that northeast Michigan and Lake Huron have to offer. From its deep blue water to scenic coastal landscapes, Lake Huron contains a diversity of waterfowl and shore birds, abundant fisheries, lighthouses, shipwrecks and more. It’s definitely worth exploring – why not head out to sea and explore a perspective from the water? 

Whether you are a boater or have never been out on a Great Lake – opportunities exist to help you get out on the water in northeast Michigan:

  • Sail aboard a tall ship!  The schooners Appledore IV and Appledore V operate out of Bay City and regularly visit other ports in Michigan and around the Great Lakes. BaySail, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the ships, offers public sailing cruises that support environmental education opportunities. Once every three years, Bay City also plays host to a fleet of tall ships making their way through the Great Lakes. This week, July 14 – 17, 2016, a total of twelve vessels from the U.S., Canada, Norway and Spain will be arriving for this Bay City Tall Ship Celebration. Admission to Tall Ship Celebration requires a daily admission ticket (one per person, per day). If you’d like to board and tour visiting tall ships, you’ll also need to purchase a Souvenir Passport (one per person, but they’re good for the whole weekend). Tickets and passports cost $10 each. For more details check out the Bay City Tall Ship Celebration website.
  • From salmon to walleye, enjoy a Great Lakes fishing trip with one of the many seasoned captains of Michigan Charter Boat Association operating in ports across northern Lake Huron waters. Enjoy nearshore or deep water fishing for fun, and perhaps also fine dining. Captains who participate in the Michigan Catch & Cook program can connect you with a local restaurant to prepare your catch for lunch or dinner.
  • Get view from beneath the waves with several dive charters – such as Great Lakes Divers in Alpena, Mich. – that offer a variety of charters from shallow water snorkeling to deep water diving. Home to the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, northeast Michigan is known for its rich maritime heritage including the many shipwrecks and artifacts preserved in the depths of Lake Huron. You can even experience the water without getting wet, as Alpena Shipwreck Tours offers daily tours to explore shipwrecks aboard the glass-bottomed boat Lady Michigan.
  • Mackinac Island – enjoy a ferry cruise across Lake Huron waters and back into time. A world famous and historic island where no cars are allowed, you can see the island by bike, horseback or carriage ride. Explore the coastline, trails, and historic fort. Enjoy a bite of famous local fudge or even a night on the Island with one of many hotels or historic inns.
  • Looking for more island experiences? Middle Island Lighthouse and Keepers’ Lodge is located in northern Lake Huron between Alpena and Presque Isle. Visit Middle Island for its natural beauty, lighthouse, or historic U.S. Coast Guard building recently renovated as a rustic lodge offering to host overnight guests on the island. Enjoy another 1857 lighthouse with dinner. Charity Island Dinner Cruise  offers an adventure across Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron to Charity Island with Brown’s Landing north of Au Gres, Mich., where you can enjoy exploring the coastal habitats and rich history of the island with a fine meal.Tall ship
  • Have your own boat?  Whether it’s a kayak, sailboat, or motorboat, opportunities abound to access Lake Huron. Huron Shores Coastal Trails offers maps, water trail information, and access points of interest to paddle sport and boating adventurers. Visit Michigan Department of Natural Resources Michigan Recreational Boating Information System to find a local launch, harbor or marina offering boating access to Lake Huron. Finally, plan a safe trip. Take a little extra time in preparation and precaution. The U.S. Coast Guard offers safety information and even a mobile boating safety app for recreational boaters on their website.

On great resource for planning your vacation is the U.S. 23 Huron Shores Heritage Route website. It highlights events, tours and places to see. Northeast Michigan and Lake Huron have a lot to offer and are definitely worth being put on your vacation bucket list.  

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

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