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From: Charlevoix, MI
Price:$ 765
Duration: 5 Days, 4 Nights
August 7 - 11, 2019

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5 Days, 4 Nights
Sea Kayaking
Skill Rating:
Van Supported:
Charlevoix, MI
$ 765
Minimum Age 9
Included: All kayaking equipment including kayaks, skirts, paddles, wet-suits, lifejackets, and other safety gear; cooking equipment including stoves, pots, plates, bowls, cutlery, and fuel; tents; guiding and instruction; maps of the area; ferry cost; food including breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all but night one of the trip.
Not Included: Sleeping bags and pads; transportation to and from Charlevoix; dinner on the first night; gratuities for guides; clothing and other personal items or equipment.

Come with us to explore three great secluded Islands of the Lake Michigan Archipelago. Start on Beaver Island and see the small town of St. James, and how residents of remote islands on the Great Lakes have survived for years. Then, paddle out to Garden and High Islands and see how some places in the Midwest can still be wild and remote. These islands are only accessible by small boat, so you will have an exclusive opportunity to get up close to the coastline, come ashore and explore the vast forests, and hike to abandoned historical sites. This is a truly unique opportunity to explore these remote and wonderful places. 


Day 1: We meet in the early afternoon outside Boyne City at Young State Park located on Lake Charlevoix for an orientation paddle. That evening we will have the chance to kayak to Boyne City for dinner enjoying the evening sunset before heading back to camp for an early start the next morning. 

Day 2: Up early in order to catch the first ferry to Beaver Island we will need to pack up camp and head to Charlevoix. The two hour plus ferry ride offers a chance to relax and enjoy the views of the approaching islands. Once unloaded from the ferry a public beach offers easy access to our afternoon paddle.   Before we head out you will have the chance to explore this quiet island community. Our days paddle will take us out of the horseshoe shaped harbor and along the north coast of Beaver Island before our crossing to Garden Island. Once we arrive at our campsite and tents are set up we can hike into the island before dinner to explore secluded woods and an ancient Native America cemetery.

Day 3:  Depending on wind and weather conditions today's paddle may take us to the western edge of this island chain visiting the shores of Whiskey and Trout Island before we land on High Island.  The long sand spit on the northeast corner of High Island offers great camping and stunning sunset views.  This will be our home for the next two nights.

Day 4: Our planned layover day offers the chance to circumnavigate High Island or venture into the deep woods seeking the highest point on the Island. Whatever your choice the remote Islands will be sure to offer plenty of adventure.

Day 5: Pack up and head back over to Beaver Island, crossing back to Indian Point and heading to St. James Harbor.  Once in St. James we will catch the afternoon ferry back to Charlevoix and the mainland.  

 **This itinerary is subject to change. As with all adventure travel, some activities are dependent on appropriate conditions. But fear not -we have many alternative activities available in case the weather is not cooperative.



Clothing & Equipment:

This is all you will need - anything else is unnecessary baggage and will only be extra weight to carry.

All items should be packed in dry bags or double garbage bags. 
Several smaller bags fit in the kayaks more easily than large bags. 
Note that kayak hatches are rarely more than 1 ft. wide. 
You may find that you can borrow some of these items if you don’t own them already

  • Wetsuit (farmer john style) (can be rented from Northwest Passage)
  • 2 t-shirts (one that’s non-cotton)
  • 1 towel (small PackTowel® work great!)
  • 1 shirt, long sleeved synthetic (non-cotton)
  • 2 pairs of shorts (at least one non-cotton)
  • Sun/rain hat
  • 1 pair fast drying synthetic long pants - no blue jeans
  • 1 light to medium fleece jacket
  • 2 pairs shoes/sandals - Tevas, booties, water shoes, light sneakers etc. all work very well - one pair to get wet.
  • 2 pair socks (non-cotton)
  • 1 pr. synthetic long underwear (medium weight)
  • Bathing suit
  • Underwear 
  • Bandanas (optional) (can be used for head covering, washing up, etc)
  • Rain gear (jacket and pants) (Paddling jacket works well as top)
  • Clean change of clothing for the trip home (should be left in car)
  • Toiletry kit (toilet paper, toothbrush, biodegradable soap and shampoo, face cream, nail clippers, personal medication etc.)
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent
  • Sleeping bag (compact, 3-season) and pad
  • Small flashlight, batteries & extra bulb- headlamps are preferred
  • Water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Chums/Croakies to keep glasses on your head are imperative (floating ones are preferable)
  • Energy bars/snack food (limited quantities- we will feed you plenty!)
  • Pocket knife
  • Large plastic cup with handle (e.g. commuter coffee mug) or small lexan Nalgene (for hot drinks)
  • Fleece hat and gloves (depending on the weather)
  • Ziploc® storage bags (pack small items inside these; also good for packing out wet clothing)

Optional Equipment

  • Paddling gloves (can be any type of open fingered glove e.g. biking gloves, sailing gloves etc.)
  • Camera, film, waterproof container
  • Reading matter and maps (waterproof case)
  • Paddling jacket
  • Sewing kit
  • Compass Crazy Creek® or similar generic chair (highly recommended for camp use, gives great back support)
  • Entertainment (harmonica, cards, games)

What is special about this trip?
The Beaver Island chain is a remote and wild destination. Located 14 miles offshore from Michigan and a 32 mile ferry ride from Charlevoix.  The Island chain offers several uninhabited islands which offer a truly remote and unspoiled wilderness experience. Our groups are always a lot of fun, and our guides are always experienced and enthusiastic. 

How do I get there?
Most people drive themselves – we provide a map and directions. Travel Time is 7 hours and remember the one hour time change.  You can do it in one day from the Chicago area, but some prefer to arrive the night before the trip or stop on the way up; it’s generally easy to find a comfortable motel or B&B. 

What papers do I need for travel?
None unless you are visiting the USA please check with your travel agent or call our office. 

How and where will you meet me?
We’ll meet at the camp site in Young State Park a 10 minute drive West of Boyne City on Lake Charlevoix. 

How long will it take me to get there?
To drive from the Chicago area takes about 7 hours.

Where should I stay overnight around there?
If you plan to arrive early, there are many charming hotels, motels and B and B’s in and around Lake Charlevoix. You can also make arrangements to camp at Young State Park, where our adventure begins.

What money should I take?
You won’t need money while we’re on the water, but you should expect to spend some in Boyne City: dinner the first evening will run about $10-20, plus drinks, and you may wish to buy souvenirs, batteries, etc.

Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?
There are ATM’s in every town and at most gas stations outside of towns. There will be no (and no need for) ATM’s out in the islands. Just about everyplace accepts major credit cards.

What's the weather like?
You need to pay attention to two kinds of weather in the Beaver Islands: While on land we’ll experience the summer common to the upper Midwest, with daytime highs in the mid 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. Pack a few light layers and some rain gear. The water in Lake Michigan is around 60°F in mid-summer, and the waters can range from calm to challenging. 

What are the accommodations like?
Our first night is spent at a mainland State campground with showers and running water. The islands themselves offer some beautiful wilderness camping sites with little in the way of amenities. A truly remote and wild camping experience.  We use lightweight two-person tents, and we’ll provide all the group camping and cooking gear (you provide your sleeping bag and pad).

What do I need to bring?

Upon your registration our office will send a full confirmation packet including a detailed equipment list with our recommend items. Once you receive that please read through and contact the office with any questions. 

Can I drink the water?
Your guides will have several water purification means including pumps and tablets. Bring a water bottle that you can refill at our stops. You won’t be able to drink directly from Lake Michigan, but once treated the water is amazingly refreshing. 

What's the food like?
We plan for hearty meals! Recent menus have included fettuccine and asparagus, fajitas, spaghetti and garlic bread for dinner, pancakes and potatoes for breakfast, and sandwiches, hummus and veggies for lunch;  we also pack plenty of snacks!  Please let us know about any special dietary needs and we’ll plan to accommodate you.

What time zone will I be in?
St. James and the Beaver Islands are in the Eastern Time Zone.

How can people reach me in an emergency? Can I call home?
Beaver Island has two cell phone towers and reception is adequate throughout the duration of our time on the islands. Give friends and family The Northwest Passage office number, as our office will be able to get in touch with the group in an emergency.

How much time do we spend traveling each day? How many miles? Do I have free time?
The amount of kayaking varies from day to day. Each morning we’ll break camp, pack the boats, and head to the next night’s camp. Our paddling will be broken into one-to-two hour stretches, with breaks to explore some of the other islands, visit historic sites, and have lunch or snacks. We plan to be off the water by late afternoon, set up camp, and then enjoy hiking around the island, some short paddles in unloaded boats, or relaxing in camp!

What kind of equipment do you use?
We use rotomolded plastic kayaks, expedition equipped with bow and stern hatches and rudders. We’ll bring mostly single kayaks on this trip, though we often bring our double kayak along so people can switch around and try different paddling options. Our camping equipment includes Eureka two-person tents.

How many people are on this trip? How many guides? Who are the guides / what are their qualifications?
Our group size for this trip ranges from 5-12. The Northwest Passage sends one guide for every five participants. Our guides are drawn from our staff of kayaking instructors, holding certifications from the ACA or BCU (the governing bodies of sea kayaking in North America), and in Wilderness First Aid.

How can I prepare physically for the trip? How much prior experience is needed?
Prior experience in sea kayaking is encouraged including basic paddling strokes, the wet exit and basic rescues. We can help provide instruction prior to your outing or direct you to the skill and techniques that will make this a trip of a lifetime