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Kayaking in the Apostle Islands: Your Complete Guide to the 3 Best Outfitters on Lake Superior

When Isaac and I first started dating, his dad owned a beautiful piece of lakefront property on Lake Superior in Bayfield. Here, we would spend a hot summer afternoon sunbathing on the dock, jumping in the refreshing water, and nibbling on our chips – all while looking out onto the Apostle Islands.

The Apostle Islands are known for their:

  • Historic lighthouses
  • Pristine sandy beaches
  • Famous sea caves

While relaxing on the dock, kayakers would often paddle past us. From the picturesque views of the Lake Superior shoreline and its brownstone cliffs – kayaking in the Apostle Islands is a must-see.

Whenever kayakers glided past the dock I always thought, “What an up-close and personal way to experience our beautiful landscape!”

Motorboats and sailboats won’t cut it. They need to keep their distance as the rocky terrain can be dangerous, especially with the unpredictable wind and the currents. Hikers are able to walk on top of the caves and cliffs found on the mainland. But to be able to explore the beautiful and mysterious caverns, you need a kayak.

At Seagull Bay, our guests’ favorite adventure is kayaking on the big lake. There are many kayak trips to the mainland sea caves, shipwrecks, and out to the islands themselves.

In this week’s blog, we’re highlighting our favorite kayak outfitters in the Apostle Islands. And why we think kayaking should be part of your Bayfield vacation when staying with us at Seagull Bay.

What You Need to Know When Kayaking in the Apostle Islands

Kayaking in the Apostle Islands and along the Lake Superior Shoreline is a breathtaking experience.

You’ll paddle along:

  • Towering brownstone cliffs and sea caves carved over time by the wind, waves, and ice.
  • Red and white pines stretching up to the sky.
  • Hardwood trees and native plants that decorate the shoreline.
  • Clean, clear water rippling over shelves of rock, sand, and even a shipwreck or two.
Kayaking the mainland sea caves in the Apostle Islands

As beautiful as it is, it’s important to keep in mind that Lake Superior is known for its rough seas, dense fog, sudden squalls, and cold waters. The moods of Lake Superior definitely add to its beauty and your sense of adventure. But it needs to be respected and all need to remember that Lake Superior is boss.

Booking a guided kayaking tour is the best way to experience the wonders of the Apostle Islands and the Lake Superior Shoreline when:

  • You don’t have previous kayaking experience on the big lake.
  • You don’t have the right equipment. The National Park Service strongly recommends you DO NOT go out to the sea caves or islands with small open boats, canoes, open cockpit kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks, or paddleboards.
  • You want a safe and stress-free kayaking experience focused on creating memories and experiences to last you a lifetime.

This is why we highly recommend that you book a kayaking outfitter. Especially one approved by the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore that has guides certified by the American Canoe Association (ACA).

It’s important for your guide to have extensive training in navigating the waters of Lake Superior and understand its unpredictable weather patterns. Outfitters provide all the necessary gear so you can make the most of your time on the water.

Things to Consider When Booking Your Kayaking Tour

Here’s what to look for when booking a tour:

Price – It’s always important to compare prices. Important things to consider are the time spent on the water, your total time commitment, and amenities included such as meals, gear, and shuttles.

What’s included – Are there shuttles to your launching location? Is lunch included? What do you need to bring? Most kayaking outfitters provide sea kayaks, wetsuits, paddles, personal flotation devices (lifejackets) spray skirts, and more. So make sure to ask so you know what you need to bring.

Who’s approved and who’s certified – Only book a tour with kayak outfitters approved by the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and has ACA-certified guides. Also, ask about their experience level. It’s important to find guides and outfitters where safety is their number one priority and that demonstrate a deep respect for Lake Superior.

Quality – Check reviews, ask people you know, and ask local businesses who are most familiar with the different kayaking outfitters.

Once you’ve found an outfitter and have booked your tour, be sure to grab your:

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Swimsuit and sandals

And meet your guide in their preferred location. Let’s dive into our favorite outfitters for kayaking in the Apostle Islands.

Kayaks on a beach in the Apostle Islands

Apostle Islands Kayak Outfitters and Tours

These are the kayaking outfitters and tours we recommend to our guests when staying at Seagull Bay. Each outfitter has everything you need including ACA-certified guides and is approved by the Apostle Island National Lakeshore.

Lost Creek Adventures LLC

Based out of Cornucopia, Wisconsin, a 30-minute drive from Seagull Bay, Lost Creek Adventures offers kayaking tours and rentals.

Their tours range from a half-day kayaking tour to a full-day kayaking tour ranging in price from $75 – $149.

Tours offered include:

  • Kayaking the Meyers Beach Mainland Sea Caves
  • Paddling out to Romans Point and along the Lost Creek Nature Reserve
  • A full-day paddle to Sand Island
  • Full moon kayaking tours

Lost Creek Adventures also offers overnight paddling trips and eco-travel options. Other services provided include equipment rentals, courses, and retreats.

Trek & Trail

Trek & Trail is the original kayaking outfitter in Bayfield, Wisconsin and The Apostle Islands. With over 30 years of experience, Trek & Trail offers guided tours, instructional courses, kayak rentals, and equipment sales.

Trek & Trail offers a variety of tours to fit the skill level of any paddler:

  • Shoreline tours
  • Sea cave tours
  • Island day trips
  • Guided overnights

Day trips range in price from $70 – $149. With Trek & Trail, you’ll be sure to experience an incredible paddling adventure.

Whitecap Kayak

Whitecap Kayak is located just outside of Washburn, a 15-minute drive from Seagull Bay.

They not only offer kayaking tours within the Apostle Islands, but they also offer kayaking tours launching out of Washburn’s Bono Creek and overnight tours paddling along the shores of the upper peninsula in Michigan.

You may book an existing tour to the Meyers Beach Mainland Sea Caves or Sand Island. But you also have the opportunity to work with their guides and create a customized tour based on:

  • Your schedule
  • Your ability level
  • Your interests

At Whitecap Kayak, they’ve got all your gear, certified guides, and instructional classes to make your day out on the water something truly special. Their day trip prices range from $50 – $160.

I can’t think of a better way to enjoy Lake Superior and The Apostle Islands than a day spent on the water.

Launch Your Apostle Islands Kayaking Adventure From Seagull Bay

There is so much to see and do when visiting Bayfield.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore hiking trail sign

We want your vacation experience to be one where you can enjoy our beautiful landscape, seek adventure, and make memories.

At Seagull Bay Lakeside Motel, we’re your headquarters for all your outdoor adventures in Bayfield.

Our 1940s motel offers you a quiet location on the edge of town and sits on the shores of Lake Superior. There is direct access to the Brownstone Trail where you’ll be greeted with stunning lake views. You can even watch others kayaking in the Apostle Islands right from the balcony.

Our rooms are ideal for adventurous couples and are filled with old-school charm and modern touches.

Your next step? Pick your dates, choose your room, and start dreaming about kayaking in the Apostle Islands.

Enjoy The View!

Molly, Isaac, Axel, Ridge, and Banks.

Quick Links:

Lost Creek Adventures

Trek & Trail

Whitecap Kayak

May 6, 2023

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