The Allure of the Mysterious Charity Island
A lush tree-lined island sits on the horizon of both the north and south shores of Saginaw Bay. Big & Little Charity Islands sit in the middle of the bay a mere ten miles from the Michigan Thumb. Except for the seasonal residents who work the dinner cruises at the lighthouse keepers’ house, the island is uninhabited. These islands are considered by the US Fish and Wildlife Services one of the more remote and least visited islands in the Michigan Island National Wildlife Sanctuary. This is partially due to the rock-filled treacherous waters that surround the island.
Charity Island by the Numbers
|Charity Tower and Keeper’s House
Big Charity Island is the largest island on the US side of Lake Huron. At 250 acres, it imposes a dominating outline at the mouth of Saginaw Bay. It has an 11-acre pond that is spring-fed and surrounded by reeds. It’s a favorite spot for nesting Bald Eagles and other birds, and as a result, the Wildlife Service has denoted both islands as off-limits to camping and hunting due to their role in the region as a rookery.
Visiting Charity Island
The island is still visited by hundreds of folks each year for all its remoteness, taking excursion boats from Au Gres or Caseville to visit the lighthouse and keepers’ house. However, visitors must remain in the immediate area around the lighthouse. Charity Island’s designation as a Michigan Island’s National Wildlife Refuge means the rest of the island is closed to visitors.
Dinner Cruise to Charity Island (No Longer Offered)
On the weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from Memorial Day through September), the tour boat, Lady of the Lake, departs from the Caseville Municipal Harbor mid-afternoon for its signature Charity Island Dinner Cruise. Guests enjoy an approximately six-hour experience that includes presenting the island’s history, an expertly prepared dinner, and time to tour and explore the historic lighthouse and keepers’ home. Followed by a light dessert and coffee on the trip back to Caseville harbor.
Excursion Costs and Considerations For Charity Island
The cost of this all-inclusive dinner cruise is $98 for adults, ½ price for children ages 3-12, and children under three are free. Boarding begins at approximately 3:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, 1:00 pm on Sundays. Departure times vary because of sunset times. The total trip is between five and a half to six hours in duration. The trip needs to have a minimum of 25 passengers to schedule an excursion. Weather is a factor and may affect the schedule.