Where is Woods & Waters located? Close, but a world away!
- 30 minutes from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace
- 45 minutes from the Soo
- 1.5 hours from Tahquamenon Falls
- 2 hours from Munising
Directions and a map can be found on the Contact Us page.
What about the weather?
You don't pay if it's unsafe to play.*
We can't control the weather and conditions can change during a trip, but we can hike, paddle, and bike in the rain—but not thunderstorms. We will always err on the side of caution if weather, wind, or waves are too dangerous for the activity. If we make the call to cancel a scheduled trip due to incoming weather, we will contact you as soon as we can. If your schedule allows, we would love to find another time or date, but if we can't — we will refund your trip (minus the booking fee).
We understand your disappointment! If Mother Nature decides to throw a wrench into your plans, we will issue you a promo code good for a future reservation. The promo will be for $10 off either each rental item or per registered participant in your current reservation. For example, if you have rented two sit-on-top kayaks, you would receive two promo codes for $10 off — or $10 off x 4 if your family of four was scheduled to go kayaking with us. Promos have no expiration but can only be used once and not combined (if you have six $10 off promo codes, you cannot use all six to save $60 on one rental or one individual reservation).
*If you are a guest on a multi-day adventure, it is possible we may encounter a period of adverse conditions; although we will not refund your trip, we will try to shift the planned itinerary around — but bring that book you've always meant to read or a journal deserving some attention just in case. For those involved in skill building courses, challenging conditions may allow for putting some new skills to the test.
What is your booking and cancellation policy?
click here to read all the details
What time do I show up?
In order assign gear and take care of any final paperwork, plan on arriving at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled trip or rental time.
How much are rentals?
Our rental spreadsheet can be viewed here: Rental Rates
How large can a guided tour group be? Will my party be joined by others?
- For safety while on the water, group sizes are limited to either 6 guests in solo kayaks or 6 boats per guide (a 6:1 ratio).
- We can accommodate larger groups by assigning additional guides (if you have a group larger than 6, please call to schedule a custom trip).
- We reserve the option to split larger groups in order to relieve congestion at launching/landing locations or stagger start times.
- The maximum size of any party is limited by the available number of guides and boats.
- Your activity may include participants outside your group; please let us know if you, or a member of your party, have a needs that might be of concern if part of a mixed-household group.
Do you offer group rates?
Yes — contact us. Although we'd love to give a standard answer, it depends on the size of your group and if more than one guide is assigned.
What are the lengths of the tours you offer? Who are they suitable for?
- Once on the water, tours range from 2 hours to multiple days. We're confident you can find an option that suits your needs.
- Tours are suitable for most individuals, or can be customized, including for participants who may require unique or adaptive paddling accommodations — please contact us!
- For groups with children 5–12 years old, we use tandem boats and seat the child in front and have a stronger person in back paddling. We do recommend our shortest trip, The Little Dipper. If you have an odd numbered party, a second guide may be available to paddle a tandem. Groups with younger children may also want to consider scheduling a naturalist tour.
- Need a different day, time, or have your own idea? We can also plan customized trips — contact us!
We're on vacation and want to sleep in — why do you start many trips in the morning?
Guests love paddling tranquil waters so we book tours when we have the best bet of delivering that type of experience. Daily winds typically start late morning and fade as the sun sets on the Great Lakes. Earlier starts are therefore usually quite calm and you'll encounter very little waves, chop, or wind. This works in reverse for sunset paddles — winds start to dissipate as the sun loses its strength. If you need or want a different time of the day, contact us. And if you aren't afraid of early — book a sunrise tour!
What should I bring?
- A positive attitude, water bottle, and water are the big three for all of our trips. We can fill water bottles!
- More detailed lists by activity are available on our "Get Ready!" page.
- A packing list for multi-day adventures can be found here.
- Know that synthetic clothing will keep you warmer even when wet — cotton does not.
- If you have a life-threatening allergy, or any other medical issues, please make sure to bring along your medications and tell your guide(s) where they are located on your person.
Will I be safe?
Here are some of the things we do to mitigate risk:
- On guided trips, we teach necessary basic skills
- We use and rent top-quality equipment
- Safety equipment for the activity is always provided and required (life jackets, bike helmets, etc.)
- Staff regularly participate in professional development to improve personal knowledge and skills for the benefit of our guests.
- Guides are required to maintain, at minimum, both CPR and basic first aid certifications
- We are an American Canoe Association (ACA) member and follow their recommendations
What about COVID?
Do I tip my guide(s)? Tip your guide — not your kayak!
Our guides take great pride in making your adventure memorable and fun. Although tips are not required, guides deeply appreciate being recognized for their great service. Same as tipping your restaurant server, amounts range between 10–20% of your total trip cost. For example, for a 2-person sunset tour, $19 would be a 10% gratuity. On multi-day trips, guests have sometimes calculated a daily gratuity and given their guide(s) an amount on the last day. If your trip has more than one guide, guides will share.
Are kayaks tippy?
Kayaks are designed to edge on their sides, making them easier to turn, but this also means newer paddlers can indeed unintentionally tip over. Therefore, in our fleet we have multiple styles of boats, including super-stable tandems, and we will try to match boats to people by their heights, weights, and abilities. We also spend time introducing basic skills before we ever leave shore. We can’t guarantee you won’t unintentionally tip a boat, but having a guide with you means you have someone watching out for you and able to get you back in a boat if the unexpected happens.
Do I have to wear a life jacket — also called a PFD (personal flotation device)?
Yes. No ifs, ands, or buts. PFDs save lives, and most kayaking fatalities occur when people aren't wearing a PFD. See above — accidents happen, so be prepared!
What type of things do we see?
Some of what you'll see depends on the trip activity you have selected, time of year, and even time of day — but the entire eastern UP (EUP) is rich in bio-diversity from shoreline, muskegs, streams, alvars, deciduous forests, islands, rocky ledges, and cedar swamps. There are multiple Little Traverse Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy preserves, state lands, and the Hiawatha National Forest that are great for spotting birds, wildflowers, unique aquatic plants, cool insects, and simply being immersed in the outdoors. The Les Cheneaux islands themselves offer fabulous paddling — both protected and "big" lake — a rich indigenous and American history, old boat houses and cottages from the late 1880s, eagle and osprey nests, freighters, a direct connection to Aldo Leopold, and antique wooden motor boats cruising the protected island waterways! What's not to enjoy?
How far will we go?
Distances covered varies by the group. We are as fast as the slowest person.
Paddling: We will work with paddlers to improve their technique and help them become more efficient on the water. On average, we will paddle between 2–3 miles an hour. And depending on wind direction and waves, we may be slower or faster than that. Our shortest trip, The Little Dipper, usually covers 3–6 miles. Most "Bigger Dipper" half-day trips will average between 6 and 9 miles; "Perfect Day" full-day trips between 10 and 14 miles (also depends on length of the lunch break). Don't let mileage estimates scare you — paddling is very different than walking.
Hiking: Most nature hikes and birding hikes are done at a rambling pace in order to discuss what's around you. At most, you might cover 3 miles in two hours, but most trips will be closer to 1–2 miles in length. For birding, you may be staying in one general area depending on bird activity in that vicinity. Full-day hikes on Drummond Island or the North Country Trail can be longer and you should be capable of covering 5-8 miles over uneven terrain. We will make rest stops and talk about what we see along the way, but it will be an active day.
Bicycling: Woods & Waters can guide local gravel road routes from 6–18 miles that travel through a mix of state forest and private properties. On Drummond Island, plan on getting wet and muddy due to potholes on shared-use roads! Either the Maxton Plains or Marblehead trip covers roughly 6–10 miles of both graded gravel and unmaintained trails at a relaxed pace. The plains area can be warm due to the radiating Alvar pavements – bring extra water in the summer!
Will I be cold when paddling?
We supply wet suits when the water is colder and have additional clothing recommendations on the "Get Ready!" page, but paddling is an activity and your moving will keep you surprisingly warm. Even if the air temperature is cooler, just like taking a brisk walk on a chilly day, you might find yourself too warm if you are wearing too heavy a coat or too many layers. And the PFD (life jacket) will be like wearing a coat. All of our sea kayaks are equipped with seats so you are not sitting directly on the bottom of the boat. In Michigan, regardless of the activity, dressing in layers and having some options are always wise. Our sea kayaks have hatches that you can stash extra clothing in if needed, but putting your clothes in a waterproof bag is recommended; sit-on-top kayaks will need a waterproof bag (large plastic zip-top bags work well). If we tell you that wet suits are needed, you must wear them for your comfort and most importantly — safety. Once the waters warm up in the summer, they are not required, but are always optional for guests.
Will I be hot when paddling?
If you are hot, you are surrounded by water! Dip your hands in, dunk your hat, take a quick dip in your clothes during a shoreline break. There are many ways to cool off.
Why do you ask for height and weight? And if younger or older than 18?
Bikes, boats, personal flotation devices (PFDs), and wetsuits come in different sizes and shapes. By having a general idea before you arrive, we can make a pretty good guess as to what equipment is going to best fit you. Having a boat or bike fit you will make your adventure or rental that much better. Think about trying to wear a pair of shoes that are three sizes too big — you'd be an unhappy camper — and we are trying our best to avoid that scenario! As for age, it ensures we have an adult sign a a minor's waiver form and/or apply a youth trip discount.
Do you have an "acknowledgement of risk" or waiver I need to agree to?
Yes, we have waivers and a photo release for all our activities and rentals. These waivers are part of your reservation/booking and can be referenced on your client dashboard. Adults will also have to sign for any minors in their party. If you'd like to read over the waiver(s) prior to booking, click below for a PDF.
Is Woods & Waters permitted to use Public Lands?
Woods & Waters is also permitted to operate on USFS lands in the Hiawatha National Forest. This means we give back to the USFS a portion of your trip fee — and that we are following regulations laid out by the USFS, including their non-discrimination policy: “In accordance with Federal law and U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex. Age, disability, and reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.” Anyone who feels they should need to file a civil rights complaint, click here for the form.