7 Must-Visit Islands in Michigan

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Updated: September 2, 2023
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Michigan┬áis a great state to visit during the summer. While here, you can travel to one of many freshwater islands. Many of the most iconic islands in the state of Michigan are within Lake Michigan. Each island has its charm. With so many to choose from, you won’t grow bored. Follow along to discover seven must-visit islands in Michigan. Some may even inspire you to visit!

Infographic of 7 Must-Visit Islands in Michigan
One of the islands in Michigan is Mackinac Island, known for its rich history and being car-free.

1. Mackinac Island

The first island on our list is possibly the most well-known in the state: Mackinac Island. This island is in Lake Huron and is a very popular summer destination. Mackinac Island has a surface area of 4.35 square miles. The island boasts 8 miles of coastline. Although a popular tourist destination, Mackinac Island is only home to about 583 permanent residents. As there are no cars allowed (except for emergency vehicles) on the island, which is accessed by boat or plane, people travel by foot, bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.

Mackinac Island has a lot of rich history. Experts have found ancient fishing camps on the island dated around AD 900. Many of the first Native American settlers considered the island sacred and very important.

So, what is there to do on Mackinac Island? Bird watching is an excellent activity. You can see blue jays, yellow warblers, great grey owls, and herons. While many birds migrate here, very few mammals reside on the island. Apart from bird watching and admiring the island’s natural beauty, visitors can also see many old buildings and historic landmarks. Fort Mackinac, for instance, is on the island. This structure was built in 1782 but has been restored. The fort is now a museum with 14 original buildings. You can also visit one of the oldest standing buildings on the island, the McGulpin House. Its origin is unknown, but it might have been built before 1780.

The Harbor at Mackinac Island

Popular summer destination Mackinac Island is possibly the most well-known island in Michigan.

©Michael Deemer/Shutterstock.com

2. Beaver Island

Another must-visit Michigan island is Beaver Island. This island is in Lake Michigan and is home to approximately 600 permanent residents. Beaver Island has a surface area of 55.8 square miles. Its highest point sits at an elevation of 696 feet. The island is also 13 miles long and between 3 to 6 miles wide.

Beaver Island has a long history. Interestingly, two stone circle sites have been discovered on the island, which may be more than 1,000 years old. It was previously inhabited by the Odawa people for at least 300 years before European settlers. This island also has a connection with Mormonism. Strangites moved to Beaver Island in 1848.

Many wonderful festivals and events are held on the island like the Beaver Island Music Festival, which was founded in 2003. Beaver Island also hosts the Beaver Island Bike Festival, in which bikers can enjoy the scenic beauty and historic sites during the third week of June.

The unspoiled beaches of Beaver Island, in Lake Michigan.

Beaver Island is 13 miles long and between 3 to 6 miles wide.

©Thomas Barrat/Shutterstock.com

3. Drummond Island

The next island on our list is Drummond Island in Lake Huron. It’s the third largest lake in Lake Huron and the seventh largest lake island in the world. Drummond Island has a surface area of 134 square miles. It’s a beautiful island known for its scenery, fall festivals, and family fun. The island is called the “Gem of the Huron” for a reason!

Drummond Island is home to the Maxton Plains Preserve Alvar, a very rare dry grassland on limestone pavements. Here you can find beautiful blooming plants like the red Indian paintbrush, which is abundant in May and June. Apart from this lovely preserve, you can also visit the Drummond Island Historical Museum. It’s free, but donations are encouraged. The museum is open seven days a week from May 25 to October 15.

Close to Drummond Island are also unique shipwrecks. A great snorkeling shipwreck is the Tug Silver Spray, which was abandoned around 1939. Drummond Island also has beautiful fossil ledges on the coast, which are the remains of a saltwater coral bed. 

Fossil ledges coastline on Drummond Island

Drummond Island is home to beautiful fossil ledges on the coast, which are the remains of a saltwater coral bed. 

©Brianna Mannion/Shutterstock.com

4. Isle Royale

Have you ever heard of Isle Royale? It’s an island in Lake Superior in Keweenaw County, MI. Although part of Michigan, the nearest city is Thunder Bay, Ontario. Isle Royal is the fourth-largest lake island in the world. Its surface area is 206.73 square miles. It’s also about 45 miles long and 9 miles wide.

This impressive island is best known for its national park, Isle Royale National Park, which also includes about 400 other small islands. Isle Royale National Park covers 571,790 acres and was established on April 3, 1940. In the park, you can find lovely marshes, lakes, and forests. Some tree species on the island include eastern red cedars, white spruces, red oaks, and mountain maples. Isle Royale is a great island for wildlife viewing. On the island, you can see moose, timber wolves, red foxes, bats, and painted turtles.

Rock Harbor stock photo Michigan, Lake Superior, Great Lakes, Lake, North America Isle Royale, Michigan Posnov 482337722

In Isle Royale National Park, you can find beavers, garter snakes, minks, ermines, and many bird species.

©iStock.com/Posnov

5. Charity Island

Charity Island is another peaceful must-visit Michigan island. It’s in Lake Huron and is sometimes also called Big Charity Island. The surface area of this island is 222 acres. It’s a lovely and calm island in Arenac County with 3 miles of shoreline. A unique part of the island is that it contains a stunning 11-acre pond, in other words, a lake within a lake. On the island, you can find rare plants like Pink Lady Slippers, a vibrant wild orchid, and trillium.

Apart from enjoying the scenic views, you can also explore buildings on the island, like Charity Island Lighthouse. You can visit this lighthouse and the surrounding area on a tour. It was constructed in 1857.

Restored Charity Island lighthouse on Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, Michigan

Charity Island is home to the Charity Island Lighthouse.

©Thomas Barrat/Shutterstock.com

6. Belle Isle

The next island on our list is Belle Isle, within Detroit on the Detroit River. It’s an island and a park. The island has a surface area of 982 acres. This lovely island was first settled by Europeans in the 18th century. It was named Hog Island. Residents changed the island’s name on July 4, 1845. The name, Belle Isle, means “beautiful island” in French.

Belle Isle was established as a state park in 1845. It’s a popular island for kayaking and paddle boarding. So, what can you do on Belle Isle? A favorite activity on the island is to visit the Belle Isle Aquarium. This public aquarium first opened on August 18, 1904. It closed in 2005 but reopened on August 18, 2012. Impressively, when it opened in 1904, it was the world’s third-largest public aquarium. Now, it’s completely run by volunteers and has about 60 exhibits and 146 species.

Belle Isle, Dertroit, Michigan, USA with autumn foliage.

Belle Isle is an island on the Detroit River.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

7. Bois Blanc Island

Bois Blanc Island is the next Michigan island on our list. It’s another island in Lake Huron and Mackinac County. Bois Blanc Island is 12 miles long and 6 miles wide. Within the island are six lakes. The surface area of the island is 34 square miles. Although visited during summer, this island only has a permanent population of 63 as of 2020.

One of the main things to do on the island is visit the Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse. It’s an old lighthouse that was established in 1829. However, it collapsed only a few years later and was rebuilt in 1839, further inland. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1924. The lighthouse and surrounding buildings have been restored carefully. They are owned by the Martin and Reinhart Jahn families. The best way to view this old and historic lighthouse is via a boat tour.

Bois Blanc Island Shore at Hawks Landing-Mackinac County, Michigan

Bois Blanc Island is in Lake Huron.

©Huron Shores Photography/Shutterstock.com

Summary of 7 Must-Visit Islands in Michigan

Here’s a recap of the seven interesting islands we took a look at that are located in Michigan.

NumberIslandLocationSurface area
1Mackinac IslandLake Huron4.35 square miles
2Beaver IslandLake Michigan55.8 square miles
3Drummond IslandLake Huron134 square miles
4Isle RoyaleLake Superior206.73 square miles
5Charity IslandLake Huron222 acres
6Belle IsleDetroit River982 acres
7Bois Blanc IslandLake Huron34 square miles

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Narrow Window Photography/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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