September 29, 2023
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

In my humble opinion, 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- Vectorlogic, CC 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-185, Mackinac Island, Michigan – Gsgeorge at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Explore the historic downtown area: Mackinac Island has a charming downtown area with many shops, restaurants, and bars. Take some time to wander around and explore the shops, or stop for a meal at one of the many restaurants.
  • Take a carriage ride: A carriage ride is a great way to see the island and learn about its history. There are many different carriage companies to choose from, so you can find one that fits your budget and interests.
  • Visit Fort Mackinac: Fort Mackinac is a historic fort that was built in the 1700s. The fort is now a museum, and it offers tours and exhibits that tell the story of the fort’s history.
  • Hike or bike the island’s many trails: Mackinac Island has a variety of trails that are perfect for hiking or biking. The trails offer stunning views of the island and the Straits of Mackinac.
  • Take a swim in Lake Huron: Lake Huron is a beautiful lake, and it’s a great place to take a swim. There are several beaches on the island where you can enjoy the sun and the water.
  • Enjoy the island’s many festivals and events: Mackinac Island hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. Some of the most popular events include the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival, the Mackinac Island Arts Festival, and the Mackinac Island State Fair.

Sailing the Michigan Waters – Services of Mackinac Island Ferry Companies

Using One Of The Mackinac Island Ferry Companies To Mackinaw Island
Chris Light, CC 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. It is worth exploring the distinct advantages of each ferry provider to make an informed decision.

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. – Vectorlogic, CC 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 Burian, CC 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.- Royalbroil, CC 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.

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.

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