The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is one of Wisconsin’s most spectacular natural wonders. Located on crystal-clear Lake Superior, the 21 islands off the mainland coast are home to red sandstone sea caves, picturesque lighthouses, hidden shipwrecks and many more impressive sights.
With so many islands to explore and all of them only accessible by water, one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in the scenic beauty is by adventuring with an experienced guide who knows the area. Whether you’re a beginner paddler or a seasoned pro, read on to find the perfect guide service, boat tour, fishing charters and more to plan your perfect Apostle Islands excursion.
Shoreline, Sea Caves and Island Day Tours
Trek & Trail outfitters in Bayfield has been offering sea kayaking tours of the Apostle Islands for over 30 years, so you can be sure you and your crew will be in good hands. For a relaxed tour with easy paddling, take one of their guided shoreline tours through the Bark Bay Slough Natural Area or along the stunning sandstone cliffs of Bayfield where you’ll also paddle past a sunken shipwreck.
Some of Trek & Trails most popular tours wind through the dazzling sea caves of Meyers Beach and Sand Island. You and your group can choose from tours that range from three hours to a full day to get as much cave time as you’d like.
Another option is “An Island Getaway in One Day” that includes kayaking out to Sand or Basswood Island and discovering hidden beaches, historic lighthouses and more. Lunch is included in these trips. If you’re craving an even longer adventure, contact Trek & Trail to plan a personalized kayak camping trip that can range from two to six days.
Adventure Vacations is another guide service that lives up to its name with day tours that include the option to go cliff jumping! They also offer island day trips that take you and your crew out to the farther islands by boat where your group then has the option to kayak through the Devil’s Island sea caves, which some say are the most impressive in the Apostle Islands.
Or, curate your own ideal itinerary with Whitecap Kayak, where the guides let you design your own trip schedule through the islands on trips that range from two hours to overnight experiences.
Overnight Excursions for All Abilities
Take a truly one-of-a-kind getaway by kayak camping the Apostle Islands with Wilderness Inquiry. Choose from their unique itineraries like the “Family Paddle and Hike” or “Paddle, Pinot and Porter” (four days each) or customize your own unforgettable seven-day trip with an experienced guide.
Wilderness Inquiry’s fully wheelchair-accessible Little Sand Bay Base Camp allows travelers of all abilities to experience the wonder of the Apostle Islands. The camp includes tent pads with ramp access, boardwalks over low laying areas, wheelchair accessible bathroom and shower facilities and custom-designed accessible kayaks. Contact a guide to start planning the ultimate adventure!
Discover the Path Less Paddled
An excursion with Red Cliff Tours is special in that you and your group will learn about the deep Native American connection to these sea caves and their stories that have been passed down for generations. You’ll also be able to kayak through the Red Cliff caves, which see much fewer visitors and tour groups and allow you to soak up the splendor for as long as you like. Beginners and kids are welcome on these tours.
For an extra thrill, take a Night Kayak Tour through the caves with colorful lights attached to the kayaks that illuminate the haunting Fedora shipwreck and an array of fish species swimming all around you. You’ll never forget paddling under the stars and the dark calm of exploring these caves after dark.
Lost Creek Adventures & Outfitters also offers a Full Moon Kayak Tour three times a month that launches from Cornucopia and guides you through the striking sea caves at Romans Point. They also offer guided stand-up paddleboard trips during the day as well as survival skills classes to add to the adventure.
Sit Back and Relax on These Boat Tours
To enjoy astonishing views of the Apostle Islands without the paddling, there are many options for boat tours in this area. Explore the options below to find the excursion that’s right for you and your group.
Apostle Island Cruises offers a 55-mile narrated Grand Tour every day May 13th through October 22nd as well as other tours that stop at lighthouses and hiking trails on the islands. Overnight camping shuttles are also available.
Apostle Island Yacht Charters, Superior Charters and True North Sailing Charters all allow you to sail yourself if you have experience or be steered by a licensed captain. Stay in a picturesque cove overnight or dock in the marina and enjoy Bayfield.
PMG Charters offers customizable power boat tours of the islands including sea caves and shipwrecks as well as shuttle services if you’re looking to taxi to one of the islands for hiking, camping or paddling.
Take a day or overnight trip with Dreamcatcher Sailing Charters, and if you rent the whole boat you can even bring your dog along!
Join Captain Sue of Wild Pursuits Boat Charter for a daytime or sunset cruise around Madeline Island and go tubing if the weather permits!
Soak up the sun on a three-day sailing adventure with Northern Breezes that travels between ports in Minnesota and Wisconsin and around the islands.
Fishing Charters Around the Islands
Whether you’re an old pro or new to fishing, Willigan’s Adventure will show you the ropes and teach your kids the basics of fishing on a Great Lake. Trips range from half a day to all weekend long and can accommodate up to four people.
Get out on Chequamegon Bay with Beyond the Catch Guide Service to cast for coho salmon, whitefish, splake, smallmouth bass and trophy lake trout year-round.
Reel Island Adventures offers fishing charters that depart from the Legendary Waters Casino Marina and also offers water taxi services.
Enjoy more of Wisconsin’s natural treasures by camping in our national parks.