GETTING TO MACKINAC ISLAND
Many people around the world have heard of Mackinac Island, but not everyone knows where Mackinac Island is. The Crown Jewel of the Great Lakes is right between Michigan’s two peninsulas.
Because Mackinac Island is surrounded by water with no bridge to the mainland, most visitors arrive by ferry boat. Some visitors catch a plane to Mackinac Island Airport, while others may even dock a private boat in the Mackinac Island harbor. Whatever route you take to Mackinac Island, getting here is part of the adventure!
COMMON WAYS TO GET TO MACKINAC ISLAND
Here’s a rundown on the most common ways of making your way to Mackinac Island:
DRIVE TO THE PORT CITIES
Visitors living within driving distance from the south often take I-75 to the ferry docks in either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, which are the cities at either end of the Mackinac Bridge that connects Michigan’s Lower and Upper peninsulas. From there, you can board a ferry for a 15-minute trip to Mackinac Island. From the north, I-75 and US-2 are the most common routes to the ferry docks.
For visitors who plan to arrive on Mackinac Island by ferry boat, there are two companies that provide service from both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry and Star Line – now known as Mackinac Island Ferry Company offer passenger ferries back and forth from the mainland every 30 minutes or so during the primary tourist season, from late April through the end of October. Your luggage will come on the ferry to Mackinac Island with you, and you also may bring a leashed pet and your own bicycle on board if you wish.
Once your ferry boat arrives at Mackinac Island, you can retrieve your luggage and bring it to your place of lodging. Mackinac Island Taxi service is available. Some places to stay will have dock porters take care of your luggage for you and bring it from the ferry docks to your room.
Where do you catch the ferry to Mackinac Island?
Instead of taking a ferry to Mackinac Island, some visitors choose to fly into Mackinac Island Airport. Fresh Air Aviation offers charter air service from St. Ignace. The flight takes about 7 minutes. At some times during the winter when the water freezes in the Straits of Mackinac, flying is the only way to reach Mackinac Island for visitors and locals alike.
Visitors taking a commercial flight into Michigan have several options for making their way to Mackinac Island. Both Pellston Regional Airport (PLN) south of Mackinaw City and Chippewa County International Airport (CIU) north of St. Ignace offer shuttle services to the Mackinac Island ferry docks. Mackinaw Shuttle and Northern Transport & Shuttle both offer shuttle services. Renting a car for transportation to the ferry docks also is an option. And charter flights into Mackinac Island Airport may be available from other airports around Michigan.
While many Mackinac Island visitors board a commercial ferry from the mainland in either St. Ignace or Mackinaw City, it’s also possible to take your own personal boat to Mackinac Island. Mackinac Island State Harbor has a public marina with 80 slips, most of which are available for transient use by the day or overnight. Private boat slips also are available in the Mackinac Island harbor for both day dockage and overnight stays.
- You can even visit Mackinac Island on a cruise! Mackinac Island is a popular port of call for a growing number of Great Lakes cruise lines. Mackinac Island’s location is perfect for cruise ships navigating the world’s largest system of freshwater lakes, and cruisegoers love Mackinac Island’s Victorian charm. Cruise ships typically dock at Mackinac Island in the morning, enabling passengers to enjoy a full day of exploration.