After crossing the Mackinac Bridge — head 30 minutes east and enjoy an ecotour in the Eastern Upper Peninsula!
Located just 30 minutes from the Mackinac Straits area (Mackinaw City and St. Ignace), Woods & Waters offers guided kayak tours among the the beautiful Les Cheneaux Islands nestled in northern Lake Huron. We're also not a far drive from Sault Ste. Marie (the Soo), Trout Lake, Brevort, or even Petoskey, Harbor Springs, or Cheboygen!
The Les Cheneaux (lay shh-know) are an archipelago of 36 islands abound with quaint historic cottages, nature preserves, migrating birds, wooden motorboats, eagles and ospreys, cedar-lined rocky shores, and waters that are suitable for all levels of paddlers. There are dozens upon dozens of shoreline miles and bays to paddle allowing repeat guests the opportunity to see different areas. Trips can be offered upon request on Drummond Island, the DeTour peninsula, or the Mackinac Straits.
We also love helping paddlers develop kayaking stroke skills, gain confidence in bigger water, practice wet exits and rescues, and hone risk management through private lessons or ACA classes (American Canoe Association).
Tours range from 2 hours to a full day on the water — or multiple days during a WOW! Workshop (Women On Water) or an overnight camping trip on Government Island in the Hiawatha National Forest. We can also work with larger groups and organizations for custom trips. We love to create the custom experience you are seeking for your family, company, or group.
Although we can take requests for a tour route, we will always pick the best place to paddle depending on the day's forecast. All guided kayaking trips include top-quality sea kayaks, all associated gear, and trained kayak guide. Every trip starts with a beach talk where we teach basic kayaking information.
The Little Dipper
The Little Dipper guided kayak tour is a perfect short adventure for experiencing the Les Cheneaux Islands from the water. Paddling time averages two hours making this offering well-suited to families with younger paddlers, absolute beginners, tight vacation schedules, or individuals unsure of their endurance. All levels welcome.
Little Dipper guided tours are scheduled every morning when Lake Huron is usually calm; call us to schedule either an afternoon or custom tour time.
The Bigger Dipper
The Bigger Dipper kayaking adventure, a guest favorite, expands both the possibilities of where we can paddle in the Les Cheneaux and provides more time to disconnect and enjoy kayaking. There are so many options — circumnavigating Little LaSalle, reaching Marquette Bay, sneaking through MacGulpin Cut, or a one-way from Hessel to Cedarville. Paddling time averages 3:30–4:00 hours on the water (brief stop if needed). Other Bigger Dipper destinations by request: DeTour Peninsula, Drummond Island, Wilderness State Park & Waugoshance (conditions permitting), the Mackinac Straits from Straits State Park (conditions permitting), or St. Martin's & Horseshoe Bays (conditions permitting). All levels welcome on Les Cheneaux trips.
Offered every night! Enjoy paddling Lake Huron when she often behaves like an inland lake. Some nights guests paddle waters that are as calm as glass. Regardless if the sky show is subdued or a breathtaking display of clouds and color, sunset paddles are always a relaxing way to end your day in the Les Cheneaux. Average time spent paddling is 3:00–3:30 hours with plenty of time for taking pictures. All levels welcome. Start times vary based on sunset.
Full Moon Paddle
Enjoy both a sunset and moonrise in the Les Cheneaux — and as dusk settles you'll paddle a kayak illuminated by solar lanterns waiting for the moon to crest the islands.
Trips often offered the day before/after the official full moon. Time on the water is approximately 3:00–3:30 hours. Although suitable for all levels, recommend mature teens as an age minimum due to the later evening. Tandems sea kayaks strongly encouraged.
The "Perfect" Day —
you pick the day!
This private and custom tour allows spending a perfect day on the water exploring the Les Cheneaux Islands at your pace and includes a chef-prepared picnic lunch (she's a grad of the Les Cheneaux Culinary School and her lunches are amazing!). As one of our guides likes to say, "we have nowhere to be and all day to get there" — and that is exactly the goal on this full-day kayaking adventure. The day is full of perfect possibilities: swimming, post-lunch nap, or a short hike at a local nature preserve.
Other Perfect Day destinations: Drummond Island, Wilderness State Park & Waugoshance (conditions permitting), the Mackinac Bridge & St. Igance from Straits State Park (conditions permitting), or St. Martin's & Horseshoe Bays (conditions permitting).
Les Cheneaux Perfect Days are suitable for all active individuals and eager beginners — we'll customize to capabilities and interests. Some of the other possible destinations are suitable with cooperative weather, wind, and wave conditions (see Bigger Dipper). Time spent paddling will average six-ish hours with a one-hour lunch break.
Star Gazing & Star Lore (NEW for 2023!)
Joining you on these special paddles will be star lore historian and author Mary Stewart Adams. You might have listened to her segments on Interlochen Public Radio, or enjoyed a lecture at other events in Northern Michigan (such as through Little Traverse Conservancy or Headlands International Dark Sky Park). Her wealth of information and stories will keep you mesmermerized and engaged even if the night sky isn't perfectly cooperative. These evenings will take us out in tandem sea kayaks closer to sunset so we can fully experience Apollo driving his sun chariot below the horizon and then "pod up" to listen and learn while the planets, stars, and meteors come out. This paddle will utilize quiet bays and solar lanterns for visibility; we paddle back to shore in the darkness lit by the lanterns. Due to the later start time and the darkness required for these trips, tandem sea kayaks will be required and recommended for teens and older.
Offered only Friday, July 21 (rain date Saturday, July 22) and Thursday, August 10 (near peak Perseid meteor shower). We plan to run these trips even if there is some cloud cover as Mary has so many wonderful stories to tell.
The same concept as our Perfect Day tour offering — but open to anyone! Scheduled for select Fridays or Saturdays from June–September, you'll join other guests who also desire a full-day adventure exploring the Les Cheneaux Islands. The day includes a chef-prepared picnic lunch (Thai chicken noodles and vegan gyros are some of the lunches we've enjoyed). We can stop to rock hound, teach advanced paddling strokes, practice self and partner rescues, or take a short hike at a local nature preserve. The day is full of perfect adventure.
This trip is suitable for all active individuals and eager beginners. Time spent paddling will average six-ish hours with a one-hour lunch break. Total minimum of 3 people registered for trips to run. Other possible destinations are suitable with cooperative weather, wind, and wave conditions (see Bigger Dipper). Time spent paddling will average six-ish hours with a one-hour lunch break.
These early birds start paddling in darkness, using solar lanterns for illumination, and earn a front-row seat for the break of dawn. After sunrise, enjoy seeing what was once hidden in the dark. Upon eventually returning to shore, know you'll have earned that cup of coffee!
- Offered by request. Late July through September are the "best" because dawn occurs later (avoid the early 4:45 AM June starts!)
- If you are staying in the area, we'd love to get all your equipment fitted the day before.
- We require tandems (unless experienced kayakers) since it is indeed always darkest before the dawn.
- Age minimum: mature teens.
The Perfect Overnight
Departing early afternoon, your overnight kayaking adventure begins by paddling the equivalent of a Bigger Dipper tour. We then land at one of Government Island's rustic campsites, part of the Hiawatha National Forest, where you'll set-up your tent. We'll handle the cooking of your chef-prepared personalized meal-plan while you explore, swim, or just relax and enjoy the views. After dinner, watch the stars come out and be dazzled by the dark skies. In the morning, awaken to a hot beverage and breakfast. We then pack up and continue paddling, returning to "civilization" by noon.
Call us to schedule. Guests can opt to supply their own food and/or camping gear (guide would not stay overnight if supplying your own meals).
Kayak Paddling Lessons
Learn new skills, or brush up on skills you haven't practiced in recent memory, from people who spend time on the water. Lessons build a great foundation for continued self-improvement and practice for beginners and intermediate paddlers, or can be tailored to cover specific skills — self-rescues, bow rudders, or rolling. Lessons are also great if you are looking to rent solo sea kayaks for multiple days in the Les Cheneaux Islands.
Lessons are available one-on-one, or up to five people. Length of lessons can vary. All kayaking gear, including wetsuits are provided. You can also discuss using your own boat! You will get wet and will want extra clothes, a towel, and maybe even a thermos of hot cocoa.
Woods & Waters truly wants everyone to get out on the water — regardless of ability, additional assistance, or accommodation. Please reach out to us to inquire if we can help customize a kayak tour, especially since these trips sometimes take additional planning and coordination of weather, staff, and gear. We do not charge extra for this extra time or additional guide (if needed).