Cruising The Straits of Mackinac
Written by Deb DeBusscher
A spectacular cruising destination and a dream trip for many Great Lakes boaters, the journey to the Straits of Mackinac is a vacation of a lifetime! Boaters cruise north across Lake Huron, enter the Straits of Mackinac and then enter the adjoining Lake Michigan. As they pass from one Great Lake to another, the largest suspension bridge in the world marks the transition and connects the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan. Whether you are cruising from Metro Detroit or the “thumb area,” just chart your way to scenic Presque Isle to start your remarkable journey to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Presque Isle State Harbor, Presque Isle, MI
Presque Isle is a spectacular, unspoiled peninsula with natural habitats for wildlife and plant life. The State Harbor is a regular stop for boaters on the way to any northern Michigan port and has about 80 transient slips, gas and diesel fuel and a party store with limited supplies. The adjacent Portage Restaurant serves the native fresh fish from the lakes. Take the time to explore the trails that wind through the dunes and woods. And a highlight of the Presque Isle port is a visit to both the Old and the New Presque Isle Lighthouses. Not only is the New Lighthouse the tallest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, but the Old Lighthouse is renowned for the local ghost stories.
Leg 2 - Estimated Mileage: 42 Miles NE
Cheboygan County Marina, Cheboygan, MI
The Cheboygan River meets Lake Huron at the ‘top of the mitt’ and is the entrance to some of the most famous inland waterways and locks in the country. Over 40 miles of rivers and lakes make this area a mecca for boaters! Spend the day frolicking down the river on your own boat or inflatable or rent a pontoon for an awesome floating party experience. This will be one of the most unique boating experiences you will ever have. As you cruise along the river and lakes, there are a couple of locks to pass through, sandbars for swimming and several waterfront restaurants, including The Boathouse and Hack-Ma-Tack Inn &
Leg 3 - Estimated Mileage: 15 miles NE
Straits State Harbor, Mackinaw City, MI
Mackinaw City is a historic city positioned as a crossroads for boaters and tourists wanting to explore the Straits of Mackinac. The southern end of the Mackinac Bridge is located right in Mackinaw City and is a spectacular sight, especially at night! A bustling downtown is home to over 100 shops, multiple restaurants and bars, Fort Michilimackinac and the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest Great Lakes icebreaker. To enjoy being a “tourist,” experience an enactment at the Fort, fly above the trees on a zip line at Millcreek Park, eat local fish
and chips at Scalawags, indulge in a sweet treat from Murdick’s Candy Shop, watch the laser light show at Mackinac Crossings or buy a souvenir T-shirt at one of the many downtown stores. The brand-new Straits State Marina has 136 transient slips, water, electricity, boat launch, grills, picnic areas, pavilion, laundry, showers, restrooms, dog run, gas and diesel fuel.
Leg 4 - Estimated Mileage: 7 Miles N
St. Ignace Municipal Marina, St. Ignace, MI
St. Ignace has the unique location at the waterway joining Lake Michigan to Lake Huron at the Straits of Mackinac and situated at the north end of the Mackinaw Bridge. This unique port embraces its rich history and showcases the past in elaborate museums and historical sites. Castle Rock, a 200-foot rock formation, provides a spectacular view of St. Ignace and the waterways. More than 15 shipwrecks dot the local waters and divers from all over the world travel to discover the underwater treasures. The St. Ignace Public Marina is a state-of-the-art, full-service marina with 136 slips and is home to three ferry lines providing ferry service to area cities. So, if you would like to keep your boat docked in the harbor and still visit other area ports, a short ferry ride will chauffer you across the waterways.
Leg 5 - Estimated Mileage: 6 Miles E
Mackinac Island State Harbor, Mackinac Island, MI
Known as the Jewel of the Great Lakes, Mackinac Island is by far the most-visited destination in Michigan. People from all over the world travel to this magical island for a memorable vacation. Autos are banned from the island, so the only mode of transportation is the horse and carriage, or a bicycle. A walk through the past
includes a visit to the famous Grand Hotel, Fort Mackinac and the Victorian era downtown. There is an abundance of amazing restaurants and bars, but the most popular gourmet delight is the world renowned Mackinac Fudge. Treat yourself to this confection and buy extra for souvenir gifts. Within walking distance to
the downtown is the Mackinac Island State Dock, where space is always at a premium and reservations must be made well in advance.
Leg 6 - Estimated Mileage: 17 Miles NE
Hessel/Clark Twp. Marina, Les Cheneaux Islands, Hessel, MI
Off the southeastern coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Les Cheneaux Islands are popular with boaters who love the more rustic cruising experiences. With 36 islands in the chain, some of which are
uninhabited, boaters can spend days exploring the crystal clear waters, the unspoiled beaches and coves. The first port-o-call in the islands is Hessel Marina, which offers 24 transient slips, gas and diesel fuel, laundry and pump-out. Many boaters who are traveling to the North Channel and Georgian Bay use Hessel as a stopover. For a first-rate dining experience, the Les Cheneaux Culinary School Restaurant chefs source local foods and fish for their master creations. The Islander Bar offers an outdoor patio, extensive menu
and drink selections, billiards and live entertainment. If you want to test your luck, the Kewadin Casino is a short drive from the marina.
Leg 7 - Estimated Mileage: 7 Miles E
Ceaderville Marine, Les Cheneaux Islands, Ceaderville, MI
Cedarville is a small town situated in a deep bay in the Les Cheneaux Islands. Boaters are encouraged to strictly follow the marked channels and the charts to navigate safely to the harbor. Cedarville Marine has about 20 transient slips, showers and restrooms, marine store, WiFi, pump-out and fuel. Things to do should include a visit to the Historical Maritime Museum and the Les Cheneaux Historical Museum. There are a
few restaurants and markets, hardware store, drugstore, ice cream shop and a convenience store within the downtown area.