Beaver Island

Beaver Island is a lightly-inhabited island in northern Lake Michigan, roughly equidistant between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of the U.S. state of Michigan.

Iron Ore Bay, with North Fox Island in the distance

Understand

Beaver Island has a mere 500 homestead residents. The southern half consists largely of the Pigeon River State Forest (35% of the island). The island's population was primarily of Irish descent, and combined with its natural character (swampy bog land), it is called "America's Emerald Isle" by its inhabitants.

Get in

The only public transportation to the island is from Charlevoix, in the Lower Peninsula.

By plane

Two businesses provide regular air transportation between Charlevoix and the island. The trip takes about 15 minutes each way, and both carriers make several trips daily, based on passenger reservations.

Prices of airlines are subject to change and may not reflect these current listings.

By ferry

The Company also offers the only Island Tours and Tour Packages.

Ticket prices are subject to change and may or may not reflect these current listings.

By private boat

Drop an anchor in one of Lake Michigan's best natural harbors or use a marina.

By car

Car ferry service from Charlevoix is available from Beaver Island Boat Company (see above). Prices vary and start at $160 round trip for an average vehicle. You must make reservations to ensure a spot on the boat for your vehicle. Number to call is +1 231-547-2311 or toll free at 888-446-4095.

Get around

By bike

Most of the roads on the island are gravel and dusty and bumpy…definitely mountain bikes and wide tires. That said, in the town you can get around very easily on a bike on the paved roads near town.

If you're up for a gravel road bike adventure then Beaver Island is a great spot with lots of areas to explore. Beautiful sandy beaches and also trails through old growth forests. The island is about 14 miles long, in fact it's shaped a lot like the island of Ireland. It's a nice and friendly place to visit.

By car

If you didn't bring a vehicle with you on the ferry, you can rent a minivan or sport utility vehicle:

By boat

The municipal dock is located at the fine natural harbor in St. James, on the Island's NE side. Showers and toilets are available, as well as transient moorings for boaters.

See

The island is heavily wooded and very remote. The natural beauty of the island is the main draw; there are not many man-made things to see.

Do

The number one question asked by visitors is "what do you do on the island" and the simple answer is that it is the best place to do nothing. There is no mall, big box stores, or movie house, however, movies can be rented at several island stores and television is available around most of the island. Wireless internet service is free at the library and other locations around the island. There are local bars that many enjoy spending their time. Hunting, camping, fishing, biking, and hiking are some of the recreational offerings.

The different attractions around the island may not be on the high-end scale of other islands but this is what helps top make the island unique. The first visual attraction a traveler may notice is the island is almost entirely covered in forested areas. After setting foot on the island one may want to go around and see what there is to see. Some good things to see is the beaches such as the one simply known as the Public Beach, Donegal Bay, and Iron Ore Bay are all great places to spend time for any beach goers. For anyone interested in the island's history can visit the island's Historical Museum to learn and even see some of the history. The island also has two well known lighthouses, one on the northern end and one on the southern. The southern end lighthouse is usually open to the public anytime.

For anyone into fishing, the Island has around 7 inland lakes, however not all are great fishing areas. The best or most popular ones are Lake Genesereth (the largest), Fox Lake, Barney's Lake, and Font Lake.

For the bikers and hikers out there, this place has a good amount of it. While the island may not be very large, hence it won't take too long to get through, it has some nice and beautiful trails to travel through.

The Shamrock Restaurant and Pub is a bright spot around the harbor. The food is excellent with a great assortment of drink available. Nina's Restaurant in the Beaver Island Lodge is also very nice and fits the upscale palate quite well. Stoney Acre Grill is another Pub with a restaurant that also has a good assortment of drink as well as good food.

A few easily accessible shipwrecks and ruined docks surround the island. In Little Sand Bay there's a keel in hardly a meter of water. Remnants of a dock and some machinery are on the beach near the southern lighthouse.

If someone is looking for a city-like place with busy street, thousands upon thousands of people, malls, outlet stores, numerous generic restaurants, and whatever else a city might generally have, Beaver Island is not that kind of place. It is instead a place to get away from all of that. It is a great getaway place and that is especially true in the summer time. It offers a nice change of pace from the busy cities of America.

Buy

The island has a family-run Spartan grocery, McDonough's Market, (a regional network of stores) and has a good selection of produce and food and is a good place to do grocery shopping. There is also a Do It Best Hardware Store and Lumber company (an international coop) which features a webcam of the island. This store has just about all your hardware related needs from odd jobs to bigger time construction work. There is an assortment of gift shops to browse, and shirts and hats available at most of the stores and shops. The island's gas station, Island Energies or more commonly known simply as "the gas station" or even "the four corners store," is located on the way out of town at an intersection locally known as the four corners and has a small selection of food, alcohol, and even some unique gift shop like items. While some may complain about the prices of gas being high than that of the mainland, one should try to understand this is because of the fact that, along with every other type of product coming to the island, it costs more to ship it there.

Eat

Drink

Sleep

Lodging

Vacation rentals

Weekly home rental is the most popular way to lodge while on the island. There are countless cottages and lake front home to rent. Contact a local real estate office or visit the official Chamber of Commerce web site for listings. The link is:

Camping

There are two rustic campgrounds on the island, operated by the townships. Both are open April thru November, with no reservations. Facilities include pit toilets and hand-pumped water. Showers (soap and towels provided) are available to campers at the Emerald Isle Hotel ($10 adult, $5 child).

Connect

Cellular One has good coverage for their customers with cross-roaming service available. Other networks are hard or impossible to connect to depending on your phone type and carrier.

Stay healthy

The island's Rural Health Center (+1 231-448-2275) is staffed by a Nurse Practitioner, who has radio access to licensed physicians in Charlevoix. Paramedics are on duty with the island's emergency services department, and medevac to a mainland hospital is available (weather permitting) but expensive if needed.

Cope

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, February 20, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.