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Where do you catch the ferry to Mackinac Island?

Two companies operate ferry boats to Mackinac Island during the tourist season from late April through October and each of them have docks on the mainland in both Mackinaw City, at the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and St. Ignace, at the southern tip of the Upper Peninsula.

If you’re planning to take a ferry, this helpful page with options for Getting to Mackinac Island is a good place to start.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry is one of two companies offering water transportation from the mainland and back.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry offers a variety of day and overnight parking options in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, with boats leaving every 30 minutes or so in season. The ride to Mackinac Island takes about 15 minutes. Or you can choose to board one of the ferries that goes under the Mackinac Bridge on the way to Mackinac Island, and that ride takes about 25 minutes.

Although tickets for Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry can be purchased in advance online, reservations are not required. Ferry pricing is the same when departing from either mainland location.

Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry is one of two companies offering water transportation to Mackinac Island.

Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Company

Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Company also offers a variety of day and overnight parking options in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, with boats leaving every 30 minutes or so in season. You can choose direct passage to Mackinac Island or opt for a ride under the Mackinac Bridge for a slightly longer trip.

Tickets for the Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Company can be purchased in advance online, although reservations are not required. Ferry pricing is the same when departing from either mainland location.

RELATED: What to do with your car when you go to Mackinac Island

The ferry ride to Mackinac Island is part of the fun, with an option to take a boat that goes under the Mackinac Bridge.

Both Shepler’s and Star Line allow visitors to bring a bike on board for a small fee. And pets are welcome on ferry boats to Mackinac Island, too.

Each ferry company has its own arrival dock on Mackinac Island where you will exit the boat and gather any luggage or bicycles that you brought on board. Some places to stay have Mackinac Island dockporters take your bags straight from the ferry dock to your room so you don’t have to worry about handling your bags once you arrive. Be sure to check in advance with the place you’re staying to see how to take care of your bags upon arrival.

All ferry docks on Mackinac Island are located right in town in close proximity to many restaurants and places to stay, as well as attractions including Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, Great Turtle Kayak Tours, Fort Mackinac, many fudge shops and bike rental vendors.

Both Shepler’s and Star Line offer packages that combine ferry tickets with admission to various Mackinac Island attractions and things to do. If you plan to visit Fort Mackinac or enjoy a narrated horse-drawn carriage tour of Mackinac Island, for example, you may be able to get special pricing by purchasing a package through one of the ferry companies.

RELATED: Yes, you can fly to Mackinac Island

Drone photo of a cruise ship pulling into the Mackinac Island dock at sunrise

In addition to ferry boat service, visitors can also get to Mackinac Island by airplane. The flight from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island Airport lasts just 7 minutes!

If you’re flying into northern Michigan, you also may be able to board a charter flight to Mackinac Island from either Pellston Airport (PLN) in the Lower Peninsula or Chippewa County International Airport (CIU) in the Upper Peninsula. Otherwise, you can board shuttles at each of those airports for transportation to the ferry docks in Mackinaw City or St. Ignace.

If you do arrive by plane, be sure to arrange horse-drawn taxi transportation from the Mackinac Island Airport to where you’re staying.

At times during the winter when the Straits of Mackinac are frozen, the only way to get to Mackinac Island is by plane. For much of the winter, however, you also can travel to Mackinac Island by ferry. Star Line runs a limited schedule of passenger boats back and forth to the mainland during the winter on Mackinac Island.

Infographic showing Mackinac Island travel routes by plane, car and ferry boat

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