That’s right. When you think about the mitten-shaped state of Michigan, the word “island” doesn’t come to mind. Beautiful lakes? Check. Amazing hiking trails? Check. Culinary craft? Check. All four seasons? Check. The list goes on and on.
But now, Islands?
When it comes to travel adventures, Michigan offers all there is to have in a state and more. Now, we’re adding these 17 Must-Visit Michigan Islands to the top of your to-do list when it comes to new treasured experiences in Michigan. From populated islands to remote isles; from islands with the sweet smell of fudge wafting on the air to islands rife with the scent of fresh pine, there is an island in Michigan for you.
Read on if you’re looking for a memorable escape and a unique adventure. These Michigan Islands will have you forgetting you’re located in the Midwest.
You can also scroll to the bottom for our map of 17 Must-Visit Michigan Islands.
Lake Huron Islands
Let’s start with the obvious. Mackinac Island is one of Michigan’s most visited Islands and is a classic must-see for all those looking for a Michigan Island adventure. It’s more than just the ferry rides, towering Fort Mackinac and the Grand Hotel. Its truly the gem of Michigan travel where you can take a step back in time to the gentle Victorian era.
After crossing the iconic Mackinac Bridge and journeying across the ferry, this island takes you back in time with its charming town streets, lined with a variety of bright pastel buildings and vintage, chic hotels for tourists to stay in. No cars are allowed on the island, leaving transportation offered by their popular horse drawn carriages, bikes, and simply walking.
With the beautiful layout and many offered tours and bike trails, you’ll forget about needing or wanting your usual choice of four wheels. Mackinac Island has to offer tourists, with high-ranking hotels, bike tours, fudge shops, ice cream, and more. This historic and charm-filled island will have you coming back for more for an enjoyable summer trip.
PRO-TIP: Mackinac Island is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bois Blanc Island
Just southeast of Mackinac Island, this Michigan Island offers more of a secluded trip for those looking for something more immersed in nature. Bois Blanc Island, located near Cheboygan, MI, is barely populated, with only a couple of offered amenities and stores on the island.
Serving as a much-needed contrast to its popular neighbor of Mackinac, this island is popular for its day trip visits to enjoy Michigan nature, by bike, kayaks and walking. All the Midwest’s treasured animals such as bald eagles, foxes, bobcats, and even rattlesnakes, are popularly observed and appreciated on the island.
Take your trip to Bois Blanc Island to relax off the grid and ground yourself with its quiet and peaceful atmosphere.
Les Cheneaux Islands
A group of 36 islands, and French for “the channels”, Les Cheneaux Islands are a Michigan island experience you don’t want to miss out on. Some islands are inhabited and offer top-rated vacation rentals for a perfect island getaway, while others are specific nature reserves.
This island chain is popular for sailing and kayaking and offers many different summer events for visitors and tourists. A perfect balance of small-town charm and untouched natural scenery, the Les Cheneaux Islands of Michigan is a channel of scenery and adventure to add to your summer trip plans.
Known as the largest island in Saginaw Bay, this charming Michigan island is popular for its day trips and lighthouse tours. Take a walk across its 3-mile shore beach and look out for rare wildlife such as bald eagles, white pelicans, foxes, and many different songbirds you might not get to see on the mainland.
The day trips last about 4 hours including the one-hour ride on the Charity Island boat, making a perfect small getaway for something special. Check out their offered dinner cruises to view the sunset on the island and other offered schedules through Charity Island to accommodate your plans for the summer.
Locating only a few cabins and campsites, this island is a hidden nature experience that offers secluded relaxation and a break away from the mainland. This Michigan island is in St. Mary’s River at the east end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the only way to reach this island is through your boat or by finding someone willing to charter for you.
This island is perfect to re-set yourself and your mind as you ground yourself with Michigan’s finest nature-protected grounds. Watch out and admire the island’s black bear population and take a breath by the St. Mary’s River and the offered island’s shores to truly immerse yourself in this scenic Michigan island experience.
Known as the seventh-largest lake island in the world and the second-largest freshwater island in the United States, Drummond Island welcomes all those with a passionate love for the outdoors.
With wonderful, offered resorts, beautiful hiking, ATV trails, beaches, and even scuba diving for shipwrecks, Drummond Island checks off everything on the list for a special Michigan island retreat. Treat yourself to trendy resorts or go rogue and camp outdoors with the island’s many different offered places to stay to accommodate your perfect adventure needs.
The variety of different eats and events to do on the island promises that boredom isn’t an option. Take the one-hour ride across St. Mary’s River on Drummonds Island ferry to have a vacation of a lifetime located on one of Michigan’s best islands.
If you’ve ever been to Mackinac Island by ferry , chance are good that you’ve caught a glimpse of Round Island. Accessible by boat, Round Island is in Lake Huron and houses a unique, eye-catching lighthouse on a cobblestone strip.
This island seems straight out of a painting, with ever-lasting surrounding blue waters, bright green trees, and the charming placement of the red and white lighthouse. With no docks, roads, or developed hiking trails on the island, Round Island is a visit for the true, rustic campers and visitors.
Wildlife is protected and thrives on the island, away from any population and hustle of industrial developments. Dive fully into Michigan with a camping trip or a day visit to this secluded, protected island, and experience Michigan wildlife to the fullest through Round Islands’ awaited adventures.
Islands in Lake Michigan
Serving as the largest island located on Lake Michigan, Beaver Island offers a great relaxing trip for a beautiful nature-filled escape. Known as “America’s Emerald Island”, this Michigan island is popularly known as one of the best stargazing locations in the United States.
Due to the low light population and secluded location, the night skies are a memorable wonder and attract many for their one-of-a-kind experience. You’ll also find many lodges, inns, motels, and glamping offering experiences located on the island for all visitors.
The community on Beaver Island helps all to feel welcome to their offered island experiences, including kayak water trails, restaurants, shopping, and Island special events for the summer. Board the Beaver Island Ferry from Charlevoix and explore this Michigan island for a perfect getaway.
Another reserved and secluded island, Fox Island is owned by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and is preserved in nature. This island can be reached by boat, kayak, or canoe and awaits a great momentary stop and admiration, with one dock for wanted visitors.
This island is uninhabited and is one of the most isolated islands in Lake Michigan. One singular lighthouse leads the way and marks Fox Island’s place in the Michigan freshwaters, overseeing and protecting the untouched Michigan land.
With zero population, this inhibited Michigan island saves space for trails, diving, and observation of the amazing Michigan wildlife.
Most popularly visited during the summer months and provides more space for private camping compared to its sister island of South Manitou. The Manitou ferry service from Leland, aka “Fishtown” provides safe traveling to get to the island for day visits and camping. Locating beautiful beach shores and wildlife, North Manitou stands out as a special Michigan Island to visit for the summer for a refreshing Michigan island experience.
With smooth blue waters, soft tan dunes, and endless wildlife trails to explore, North Manitou is an essential island to add to the list.
South Manitou Island
If you’ve ever traveled to Glen Arbor, you might have caught a glimpse of South Manitou from the shoreline of Sleeping Bear Bay.
Located in Lake Michigan and not far from the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this Michigan uninhabited island serves as a Michigan nature wonder with dune formations and white cedar trees that are over 500 years old.
Visitors travel to this island by ferry to camp in rustic settings and hiking. Don’t forget to check out the cool history this island holds within its ghost towns and coast guard station, locating the famous Francisco Morazan shipwreck. The view of the sleeping bear dunes will have you wonderfully surrounded by Michigan’s unique nature and scenery, proving this island to be a special trip for the historic tales and untouched beauty.
Islands in Southeast Michigan
This Michigan island is in the Detroit River and deserves a spot on the list. This island park is a beautiful location and serves as a great getaway from the bustling city life of Detroit. The grand Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is a sight to marvel at, with elegant glass panels and a whimsical botanical garden.
Don’t forget the Belle Isle Aquarium, with emerald, green, curved tile ceilings, stored with wonders from the ocean, or the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and Belle Isle Nature Center, all located within the island. Serving their mission to protect and take care of their natural environment, Belle Isle is a park the state of Michigan holds dearly to its heart.
Belle Isle truly is a fairy-tale escape and is a Michigan island you don’t want to miss.
Another island and township located in the Detroit River, this island promises great sightseeing and exploring with a friendly and safe community.
With offered island fests, events, and activities during the summer, this island is a popular go-to for families and friends to connect during fun outdoor activities and food. The island embraces all sorts of food trucks and vendors, with live music and a variety of activities for all ages, making the island hard not to like.
Grosse Ilse makes sure there is something for everyone on their island and puts effort into upkeeping their parks and natural areas for their residents and guests. Head to Gross Ilse during the summer for a warm embrace of community and fun-filled activities spent in the sun, making a memorable trip for everyone.
Located at the top of Lake St. Clair, and less than an hour from Detroit, this island is a popular must-see for visitors and residents around the area of the beautiful preserves of the natural life of the freshwaters and serves as a location for fishermen and hunters.
Many flocks to the island during the summer for a traditional retreat, and host nearly 2,000 year-round residents. With many offered boating trips, hunting, fishing, restaurants, and local shops, this island is a great place to soak up the sun in the summer and to appreciate the historic charm and peaceful environment Harsens Island has to offer.
Lake Superior Islands
This island gem located in Lake Superior is a great place for many outdoor adventures and scenery to admire the beautiful freshwater lake. This national park can be reached by boat or ferry and offers places to camp and two resorts: the Rock Harbor Lodge and Windigo Camper Cabins.
Make sure to bring your food to the island, for there are only two restaurants located on the island. Whether for a day trip or a long camping stay, Isle royal is a beautiful, isolated trip to unwind and reconnect with nature and makes a unique summer experience with their boating and camping experiences.
Grand Island in Munising
North of Michigan Upper Peninsula and located in the township of Alger County and along the shores of Lake Superior, Grand Isle provides discovery for amazing Michigan scenery, including sandstone cliffs and the famous Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Just under an hour’s drive from popular Marquette, this Munising island is home to pristine sandy beaches, hardwood forests and clear inland lakes.
Enjoy overnight stays with rustic camping or offered cabins, and plan out your stay hiking, visiting beaches, kayaking, and stargazing the beautiful, unpolluted night skies. Grand Isle sure is a grand island, promising a grand time as one of Michigan’s best must-see islands.
Located at the eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula, Sugar Island serves as a wonderful stop along the St. Marys River.
Matching its sweet name, Sugar Island sure is a treat to visit during the summer months, offering a Michigan island adventure full of perfect beach days, boat rides, wild trails, water trails, and pure relaxation.
Soak your feet in the clear freshwaters and explore the soft, white sandy beaches on this special must-visit Michigan island.
Map of 17 Must-Visit Islands in Michigan
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About the Author-
Ella Graber is a Content Writer for My Michigan Beach. She grew up in the Grand Rapids area of Michigan and is currently attending Grand Valley State University, majoring in writing. Creative writing has been an interest of Ella’s ever since middle school, and she continues to be inspired by reading and writing. She is excited to share her love of the great state of Michigan. Outside of writing, Ella can be found enjoying the outdoors on runs and walks, exploring new coffee shops, and visiting the beautiful Michigan beaches with friends.