Raise the mast, and set sail in West Michigan! With both the Great Lakes and the many inland lakes, you’re never too far away from an opportunity to be on the water. If you don’t have much boating experience, fear not! Many places will take you and your crew out on the water, and do most of the heavy lifting for you. Of course, you can also rent everything yourself and set your own course. No matter your skill level, take some time to trek West Michigan’s waterways!
Speciality Ships in Southern West Michigan
The Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven boasts five historic and replica vessels that give you and your family an opportunity experience Lake Michigan like a true sailor. Hoist the sails on tall ship Friends Good Will, take a lazy river cruise on electric river launch Lindy Lou, race to the rescue with USCG Motor Lifeboat 36460, or feel the wind on your face aboard R Class racing yacht Bernida. Brand new for this upcoming season, you can experience the romance of Pouf, the museum’s 1929 Chris Craft Cadet. There’s something for everyone on the water at the Michigan Maritime Museum when vessels begin service over Memorial Weekend.
The Star of Saugatuck Boat Cruises is an authentic sternwheeler which operates on the Kalamazoo River, enters into Lake Kalamazoo, and then heads back down the Kalamazoo River to view the private homes and cottages, boats of every shape and size, and the natural beauty of the Kalamazoo River. You may catch a glimpse of wildlife, including deer, wild turkey, fox, blue heron, seagulls, and eagles. Hop on a cruise soon when they open starting the first full weekend in May!
With more than 100 lakes, including two chains of lakes, Coldwater Country is a haven for relaxation on the water. Bring your family and friends, and rent a pontoon or kayaks to get out on the water and enjoy the day. Anglers will find a hot spot for reeling in the catch of the day. With so many lakes, you can return to the area and experience something completely new for years to come.
More Specialty Ships in Southern West Michigan
- Marina Grand Resort, New Buffalo
- Originator Sport Fishing Charters, St Joseph
- Sea Hawk Sport Fishing Charters, Stevensville
Speciality Ships in Central West Michigan
The Muskegon area is home to three maritime destinations that need to be on your to-do list! At the USS LST 393 Veterans Museum, history jumps out at you from every deck and corner. This veteran of Omaha Beach earned three battle stars in World War II and is one of only two Landing Ship Tanks that remain in the United States. Hailed as Muskegon’s original ferry, take a tour aboard the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper, featuring art deco interiors, a soda fountain, ballroom, and movie theater. Built in 1904, eight years before the Titanic, the Clipper traversed Lake Michigan from 1941 until 1970 carrying untold thousands of passengers and automobiles between Muskegon and Milwaukee. If you need to get across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee today, the Lake Express High Speed Ferry is considered the new standard for Great Lakes ferry service, crossing the lake in only two and a half hours. Finish off your maritime adventures with a tour of the USS Silversides Submarine Museum. This restored WWII Submarine is a Prohibition-Era Coast Guard Cutter and features wonderful exhibits aboard. Self-guided tours let you experience what it was really like to sail a sub trolling the waters of the South Pacific over 60 years ago. Guests can walk the deck topside as well as the major internal compartments below deck. Tour passes also include access to the Coast Guard Cutter McLane, a rare prohibition era vessel from 1927.
Ludington his home to the S.S. Badger, the last coal-fired steamship in the United States. Offering nostalgic, four-hour cruises across Lake Michigan to and from Manitowoc, Wisconsin twice daily in the summer season, visitors can also enjoy themed two-hour shoreline cruises in the summer such as the Fourth of July Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean Shoreline Cruise on July 25th. This year marks the ship’s 65th anniversary, which visitors can celebrate on the Vintage Badger 1953 Anniversary Cruise on June 3rd, which comes complete with original menu items, 1950s rock and big band tunes, original staff uniforms, 1953 trivia, and more. Ticket holders are encouraged to dress in their favorite 50’s rock or vintage dress attire.
Begin your West Michigan adventure with a boat excursion aboard the Holland Princess. Tour beautiful Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan as you cruise past the Big Red Lighthouse. Enjoy a scenic cruise with lunch or dinner, while you pass by picturesque lake homes, historic landmarks, and nature at its finest. The Holland Princess is designed for tourists, visitors, and locals alike!
MACkite Board Sports Center in Grand Haven specializes in kiteboarding and paddle board gear, rentals, and lessons. Their crew, by and large, are people who found their way to MACkite because they were already experts and wanted to share their knowledge with others and make sure customers get the right gear for their style. Whether you’re just getting your sealegs on a kiteboard or paddle board or you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll find the best gear and knowledge at MACkite!
CoHooker Charter Fishing Service in Holland offers a hands-on experience for anybody looking to have fish for dinner. They specialize in wholesome recreational fishing for the whole family on Lake Michigan. Once you’ve caught something that you like, you can have one of three restaurants in Saugatuck cook the fish for a meal that night. Gift certificates are available and make a great present for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and more. Hit the waters of Lake Michigan for your next meal with the help of CoHooker Charters!
More Specialty Ships in Central West Michigan
- Nancy Anne Sailing Charters, Holland
- Nelson Charters, West Olive
- Port City Princess, Muskegon
- Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, Ludington
Speciality Ships in Northern West Michigan
Inland Seas Education Association on Suttons Bay has two unique ships on the Great Lakes. The 77′ schooner Inland Seas provides two and three-hour hands-on sailing experiences, where participants become Great Lakes scientists as they collect lake samples and analyze them. Explore the underwater world when you drive an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from the deck of the 77′ schooner Utopia. These experiences will bring you closer to understanding the importance of protecting and preserving freshwater resources. Program schedules will be available in early Spring.
Sailing out of Traverse City, the Traverse Tall Ship Company offers a Noon Sail, Afternoon Moomers Ice Cream Sail, Evening Sail, and the popular Floating Bed and Breakfast Package. They also offers multi-day Windjammer cruises in September. With over 3,000 square feet of sail, this stately vessel has plied the waters of West Grand Traverse Bay since 1991 and continues to be the most unique attraction in the entire area.
The Beaver Island Boat Company out of Charlevoix may not be running their boats during the winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead. Reserve a spot for your vehicle to journey to Beaver Island for this spring and summer. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can book a tour of the island as well. Let the Beaver Island Boat Company be the start to your island getaway!
Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire is just minutes from Torch Lake, one of the remarkable 75-mile string of lakes and connecting rivers called the Chain of Lakes. Stretching 19 miles and covering nearly 30 miles, Torch Lake is where Shanty families head for days of sunshine and water. From water skiing to tubing, fishing or just floating around, Torch Lake is a must.
Visit the Charlevoix area, and get out on Lake Charlevoix or Lake Michigan with one of the area’s many charters. Whether you are basking in the sunshine or watching a breathtaking sunset, book a tour today!
Does winter have you dreaming of shimmering summer waters of St. Ignace? If so, you’ll know that there’s nothing like a lighthouse cruise on the Straits of Mackinac. Visit multiple beacons, ride beneath the incredible Mackinac Bridge, and visit the islands and shoreline of the Straits area. It’s a boat cruise unlike any other. Shepler’s Ferry offers lighthouse cruises and other specialty outings, including fireworks cruises. Star Line offers sunset cruises, fireworks cruises, and other custom itineraries. St. Ignace is the perfect launch for the specialty cruise that you’re looking for!
Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises out of Munising is an authorized concessionaire of the National Park Service Department of the Interior. For over 50 years, their summer cruises have been guiding visitors to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a top Michigan vacation spot. They offer three distinct Michigan cruises: the Regular Cruise, the Spray Falls Cruise, and the Sunset Cruise. If you are looking for unique vacation ideas, choose Pictured Rocks Cruises’ scenic boat tours as your next Michigan travel destination.
More Specialty Ships in Northern West Michigan
- Bay Harbor Lake Marina, Bay Harbor
- Glen Craft Marina & Resort, Glen Arbor
- Insta-Launch Campground & Marina, Manistee
- S.S. City of Milwaukee, Manistee
- Sommerset Pointe Yacht Club and Marina, Boyne City
- Windjammer Marina, Oden
Statewide Resources on Specialty Ships