June 16, 2024
Photo Of The Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro Jet Ferry Radisson Leaving The Mackinaw City Dock

2 Outstanding Mackinac Island Ferry Companies – Your Gateway to Bliss

There’s nothing quite like the wind whipping through your hair as you gaze upon the picturesque views of Mackinac Island from aboard one of the island’s majestic ferry services. As a serious bucket list destination for global travelers, Mackinac Island, located in Lake Huron, draws thousands of tourists each year, all eager to experience its unique charm and enchanting natural beauty. A big part of that experience? Using one of the Mackinac Island ferry companies’ services to the island. Let’s dive right in and explore what these ferry companies offer.

Featured Image – Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry’s “Radisson” Hydro-Jet fast ferry leaving the Mackinaw City Dock for Mackinac Island, Michigan- VectorlogicCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What To Do On Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is a haven for horse lovers. There are no cars on Mackinac Island, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get around! Here are some of the things you can do on Mackinac Island:

Mile Marker 0 On Michigan State Highway M-185, Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mile marker 0 on Michigan State Highway M-185Mackinac Island, MichiganGsgeorge at en.wikipediaCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the historic downtown area: 

Mackinac Island’s downtown area is a delightful destination, offering a plethora of unique and charming shops to explore, ranging from boutiques to specialty stores. With a diverse array of restaurants available, from casual cafes to fine dining establishments, there is something to satisfy any palate. Additionally, the island’s bars offer a range of entertainment options, making it an ideal place to unwind after a long day of exploring. Take some time to wander around and enjoy the picturesque scenery while immersing yourself in the island’s vibrant culture.

Take a carriage ride: 

It is indeed a marvelous opportunity to explore the captivating island while immersing yourself in its rich history. Indulging in a carriage ride allows you to witness the island’s picturesque landscapes and delve deeper into its enchanting past. With numerous carriage companies available, you have the freedom to select one that precisely aligns with your financial means and personal preferences.

As you traverse the island’s charming streets, be prepared to witness architectural marvels and hidden gems that harken back to a bygone era. The rhythmic sound of the horses’ hooves and the gentle swaying of the carriage create a soothing ambiance, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the experience.

Visit Fort Mackinac: 

Fort Mackinac, a historic fort built in 1780 by the British during the American Revolutionary War, is located on Mackinac Island. The fort was a strategic military outpost for controlling the Great Lakes and was involved in several battles with American forces. Today, Fort Mackinac is a popular tourist destination and museum that showcases the history of the fort and its surrounding area.

Visitors to the fort can take guided tours that offer a glimpse into life at the fort during the 18th and 19th centuries. The tours cover the various buildings and structures within the fort, such as the barracks, officers’ quarters, and the fort’s impressive collection of artillery. In addition to the tours, the fort also offers exhibits highlighting its history, including displays of military weapons and uniforms, as well as information about the daily lives of soldiers and their families who lived on the fort.

Hike or bike the island’s many trails: 

Mackinac Island boasts an extensive trail network that caters to hikers and bikers of all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a novice looking to explore the island’s natural beauty, there’s a trail for you. The well-maintained trails offer stunning panoramic views of the surrounding forests, lakes, and the Straits of Mackinac.

You’ll have the opportunity to marvel at the island’s diverse flora and fauna, from wildflowers and butterflies to birds of prey and whitetail deer. Along the way, you’ll encounter various historical landmarks and attractions, such as Fort Holmes, Arch Rock, and the Grand Hotel. You can also take a break at one of the many picnic areas or restrooms along the trails. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or an intense workout, Mackinac Island’s trails are the perfect way to experience the island’s natural beauty and rich history.

Take a swim in Lake Huron: 

Lake Huron, located in North America, is the third-largest freshwater lake in the world. With a surface area of 59,600 square kilometers, this stunning lake boasts an incredible coastline and several beaches perfect for swimming. Whether you’re a fan of sunbathing, water sports, or just relaxing by the water, Lake Huron offers an ideal destination for all types of beach-goers.

The beaches on Lake Huron’s island are particularly popular, with their crystal-clear waters and picturesque landscapes. You can take a refreshing swim in the lake’s calm water, play beach volleyball, or enjoy a picnic with friends and family. The island’s beaches also offer a range of amenities, including showers, restrooms, and changing rooms, making it a convenient and comfortable place to spend your day.

With its stunning natural beauty and abundant recreational activities, Lake Huron is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors.

Enjoy the island’s many festivals and events: 

Mackinac Island, located in Lake Huron, Michigan, is a hub for various festivals and events that take place throughout the year. One of the most renowned events is the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival, which is celebrated every June and marks the arrival of spring on the island. During this time, visitors can witness hundreds of rare and vibrant lilacs in full bloom, and participate in a range of activities such as live music, horse-drawn carriage tours, and wine tastings.

Another popular event that takes place on the island is the Mackinac Island Arts Festival, which is held in August. This festival brings together artists from all over the country to showcase their artwork, including paintings, sculptures, and pottery. Visitors can also enjoy live music, local food, and workshops hosted by featured artists. Additionally, the Mackinac Island Fair, held annually in August, is a celebration of the island’s rich history and culture. Visitors can experience traditional island cuisine, participate in games and contests, and marvel at the impressive displays of livestock and farm produce.

Remembering Your Trip

Pins can be the perfect combination of attractions you have visited and activities you have participated in. You can engrave your name or date on this custom pin, continuing your past journey and witnessing your future adventures. You can see more products on GS-JJ.com.

Sailing the Michigan Waters – Services of Mackinac Island Ferry Companies

Using One Of The Mackinac Island Ferry Companies To Mackinaw Island
Chris LightCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Traveling to Mackinac Island has become a hassle-free experience thanks to the superb ferry services offered by its various companies. To make an informed decision, it is worth exploring the distinct advantages of each ferry provider.

Mackinac Island Ferry Company: A Journey in Luxury

Formerly known as the Star Line, the Mackinac Island Ferry Company is renowned for its exceptional service. With an emphasis on speed, comfort, and convenience, this ferry company ensures a seamless journey for its passengers. They offer high-speed hydro-jet ferries for a swift trip to the island. Moreover, they also provide options for private charter services and twilight cruises, creating a tailored experience for every kind of traveler.

Mackinac Island Ferry Company: Shooting Stars Over the Lake

Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry's &Quot;Marquette Ii&Quot; Hydro-Jet Fast Ferry Leaving The Mackinaw City Dock For Mackinac Island, Michigan.
Star Line Mackinac Island Hydro-Jet Ferry’s “Marquette II” Hydro-Jet fast ferry leaving the Mackinaw City Dock for Mackinac Island, Michigan. – VectorlogicCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love to add a dash of history to your journey, don’t forget to bring your bike aboard and experience bicycling around Mackinac Island. An early morning ride to the island is even more delightful with a ride on the Star Line ferry. Launched in the 70s, the Star Line has remained integral to the Mackinac adventure. From their high-speed hydro-jet ferries to their classic ferries, there’s a little bit of something for everyone.

Remembering The Arnold Transit Company Mackinac Island Ferry – History on the Waves

Arnold Transit Company
Mackinac Express, a catamaran passenger ferry of the Arnold Transit Company at Mackinac Island, Michigan – The original uploader was Mr.Z-man at English Wikipedia.CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Arnold Transit Company was a ferry boat company serving Mackinac Island in Michigan for 140 years. In late 2016 Arnold Line’s Assets, including the boats, and docks along with its name, were purchased by Star Line Ferry (now Mackinac Island Ferry Company), which continues to operate today.

A voyage with the Arnold Transit Company was much more than a simple ferry ride; it was a journey steeped in history. Having served the community since the late 19th century, Arnold Transit offered a unique mix of old-world charm and modern convenience. Their service included options for group travel, making it a go-to choice for large parties looking to explore the island together. Plus, they host specialty cruises that celebrate the area’s rich history.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry: A Voyage with a Personal Touch

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry
Peter K BurianCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Family-owned and operated, Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry is known for its welcoming atmosphere and top-notch customer service. They offer various services, including frequent ferry departures, private charters, and special event services. With a fleet of vessels that have earned the nickname “The Fastest Fleet,” Shepler’s promises a quick and efficient journey. In addition to these services, they also host unique lighthouse cruises, offering a different perspective on the beautiful Lake Huron.

All three ferry companies to Mackinac Island ensure a comfortable journey and enrich the experience with their unique offerings. From history-infused rides to speed and luxury, they make reaching Mackinac Island a pleasure.

Ferrying from St. Ignace – A Scenic Start to Your Island Adventure

Looking South In Downtown In St. Ignace, Michigan.
Looking south in downtown in St. Ignace, Michigan.- RoyalbroilCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re arriving from the mainland, taking the Mackinac Island ferry from St. Ignace is an absolute must. As you leave the shores of St. Ignace, the views of the island start to unfold before your very eyes – a preview of the island’s splendor that awaits you.

Video: All About the Mackinac Island Ferries

The Ferry Companies to Mackinac Island: A Snapshot

  • Mackinac Island Ferry Company (Formerly Star Line): Known for its speed and luxury, it’s an ideal choice for those seeking a swift, comfortable journey.
  • Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry: A local favorite for its friendly staff and reliable schedule.
  • Mackinac Island Ferry from St Ignace: Offers one of the most scenic routes to the island, making the journey as memorable as the destination.

What is the Mackinac Island ferry Schedule?

The Mackinac Island ferry schedule varies depending on the time of year. Here are the schedules for the two main ferry companies:

Shepler’s Ferry

  • May – June: 7:30 am – 9:30 pm, every 30 minutes
  • July – August: 6:30 am – 10:30 pm, every 15 minutes
  • September: 7:30 am – 9:30 pm, every 30 minutes
  • October: 9 am – 5 pm, every hour

Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry

  • May – June: 7:15 am – 9:30 pm, every 30 minutes
  • July – August: 6:15 am – 10:30 pm, every 15 minutes
  • September: 7:15 am – 9:30 pm, every 30 minutes
  • October: 9 am – 5 pm, every hour

Please note that these are just regular schedules. Additional or fewer ferries may be running on certain days, such as holidays. It is always best to check the ferry company’s website for the most up-to-date schedule.


What is the cheapest ferry to Mackinac Island?

Two main ferry companies serve Mackinac Island: Shepler’s Ferry and Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry. The cheapest option is to take the Star Line ferry, which costs $18 round-trip for adults and $9 for children. The ferry ride is about 40 minutes each way. Shepler’s Ferry is the more popular option, but it is also more expensive. Round-trip tickets for adults start at $34, and tickets for children start at $23. The ferry ride is about 20 minutes each way.

What is unique about the Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Company?

The Star Line is known for its high-speed hydro-jet ferries, offering a swift and comfortable journey to Mackinac Island.

What is the best ferry to Mackinac Island?

The best ferry to Mackinac Island depends on your needs and preferences. Here are a few of the most popular options:
Shepler’s Ferry: This is the most popular ferry company, with multiple departures from St. Ignace and Mackinaw City throughout the day. The ferries are large and comfortable, with indoor and outdoor seating. Shepler’s also offers a variety of amenities, including bike and car rentals, food and beverage service, and a gift shop.
Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry: This is another popular ferry company with a similar schedule to Shepler’s. The ferries are smaller than Shepler’s but offer a more intimate experience. Star Line also offers a variety of amenities, including bike and car rentals, food and beverage service, and a gift shop.

How many ferry companies go to Mackinac Island?

Two large-scale ferry companies travel to Mackinac Island: Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry and Shepler’s Ferry.

Who has the fastest ferry to Mackinac Island?

Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Company is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, frequent trips to Mackinac Island and underneath the Mackinac Bridge on hydro-jet boats that produce a 40mph rooster tail.

Final Thoughts About Mackinac Island Ferry Companies

Whether it’s the Mackinac Island Ferry Company’s sleek hydro-jets or Shepler’s historic ferries, each ferry company adds a unique flavor to the experience of reaching Mackinac Island. So next time you plan a trip to this little slice of paradise, remember, it’s not just the destination that matters, but the journey itself.

Avatar Of Michaela Nolte

Michaela Nolte

Michaela is a history buff and loves to export historical markers and old buildings and seeks stories about Michigan and Great Lakes history. When she is not writing, you can find her with a good book sipping wine on the beach.

View all posts by Michaela Nolte →

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