Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Uncover Natural Wonders & Historic Treasures during a Guided Tour of America’s Emerald Isle
Tours are available Memorial Day through the Labor Day holiday, with some dates requiring an overnight stay. If taking only a day trip, you must take the first Ferry at 8:30 am in order to arrive to the Island in time to take the tour. Please refer to the ferry schedule for specific dates.
“They offer two tours of the island, by A/C bus,” says Sue from Bay City. "We took the 3-hour tour. They point out all the historical and ecological areas of the island, and tell some humorous and true (and maybe not so true…) stories of island life. You get two stops on this tour. One is at Iron Ore Bay and it is a beautiful beach. Next, right up the road, is the Beaver Island Lighthouse, which you can tour and climb to the top (50 steps or so). A good idea is to take this tour, and then either drive your own car or rent one on the island and go back to some of the points that interest you, so you can spend more time there, if desired. This is what we did.”
The 1.5 hour Standard Tour is offered most days starting at 11am and focuses on the northern end of the island and the harbor area. Tour charming St. James village including its lighthouse on Whiskey Point, shops, museums and churches. The tour then proceeds to the west side of the island to see spectacular Donegal Bay with views of High, Whiskey, Trout and Garden Islands. Finally you will pass Protar's home and tomb, learning the intriguing history of this fascinating man.
(Cost: $24 children ages 5-12; $32 for those 13 years of age and older. Tour packages, offering roundtrip passage and the tour, are $50 for children and $75 for those 13+).
The 3-hour Extended Tour begins at 1pm and includes everything encompassed by the 1 ½ tour and then continues around the entire island. Your journey to the southern tip of Beaver Island will take you through its beautiful dunes and forests and alongside several of the island's pristine inland lakes, bays and beaches. Ultimately, the tour will pause first at Iron Ore Bay for time to Beachcomb and finally visit and climb one of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes—Beaver Head Lighthouse.
(Cost: $34 children ages 5-12; $42 for those 13 years of age and older. Tour packages, offering roundtrip passage and the tour, are $60 for children and $85 for those 13+).
Reservations for the tours are not necessary, but are requested as space is limited. However, sometimes there are opportunities to get on a tour the day you arrive, so be sure to ask one of the crew or stop in the ferry office to inquire about availability. To guarantee your space, please call with your preferred date and the number of passengers, or you can reserve a space on line. No deposit is required. Group tours can also be arranged, with advanced notice.
Beaver Island Boat Company has been providing the most relaxing, affordable transportation for people, pets, vehicles and freight to Beaver Island since 1984.The distance from Charlevoix to historic Beaver Island is 32 miles across Lake Michigan and takes approximately two hours. Each year the company’s two vessels, The Emerald Isle and The Beaver Islander, collectively make approximately 375 round trips to the island, travel more than 24,000 miles, transport more than 40,000 passengers, carry around 6,500 vehicles and haul approximately 10,000 tons of freight.
The Emerald Isle was designed by Timothy Graul Marine Design in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and was built in 1997 by Washburn & Doughty Associates, Inc. in East Boothbay, Maine. She is 130 feet in length, 39 feet wide, and draws 8.5 feet with a top speed of 14.5 knots and maximum capacity of 293 passengers, 14 -18 vehicles depending on the size of the vehicles and this can also include a large semi-truck and up to 95 tons of freight. She is equipped with a wheel chair lift, has in excess of 150 indoor/covered seats, five unisex restrooms, one handicap accessible restroom with a baby changing table, fixed stabilizers, power outlets, wifi and food/refreshment vending machines.
The Beaver Islander was built in 1962 by Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. out of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and was purchased new by the Beaver Island Boat Co. She is 95 feet in length, 27 feet wide and draws 8 feet with a top speed of 13.5 knots and maximum capacity of 172 passengers, 10 vehicles and 40 tons of freight. You can still ride the historic Beaver Islander on most weekends in the summer.
For a complete ferry schedule, rates and package tour details, call 888-446-4095 or log onto www.BIBCO.com.
For information on Beaver Island: www.BeaverIsland.org