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Taking “Shepler’s Ferry” from the St. Ignace Port to Mackinac Island

I am a planner, always have been and always will be. One of the main stressors I had, for no reason at all, was how we were getting to Mackinac Island on our Michigan getaway. As always, I did my research online and found two different Ferry companies that operated out of St. Ignace. Not really knowing which one to go with, we asked upon our check-in at the Aurora Borealis Motel in town. They worked with Shepler’s and were able to sell us discounted tickets, along with assuring us that they were the Company to go with. Since they live their year round and we don’t, we took their advice and it was honestly nice to be able to purchase the tickets right at their check-in desk and know it was a done deal. Tickets sold through brokers or Shepler’s themselves are NON-REFUNDABLE so keep that in mind. Whether you leave from St. Ignace or their other port, Mackinaw City, the price is the same.

We chose the earliest time to leave, (6:30 a.m.), in fear of getting to a full ferry or busy time and not being able to find a seat. Joke was on us, maybe because it was late August, but we were there plenty early, so much we were the first ones in line! LOL Hey, we got to meet and talk to the Staff, all was well. With a limited parking lot (free for daily and paid overnight parking options) we had seen FULL to the brim the day before, we just wanted to make sure we didn’t run into problems. Yeah, I am that person, ALWAYS early.

There is no restroom on the ferry so they encourage you to use their provided restrooms, and their waiting room lounge if you need to sit and wait for the Ferry to arrive. We just stood around next to the empty line, took pictures and just chatted away. About 15 minutes to boarding, people started showing up in droves and what was once a quiet little spot became busier than ever. So my advice, if you like to be somewhere early and feel better about getting a seat, go for it here to assure yourself a seat. (Seating is first come, first serve, no assigned seating). Once we boarded, it was top floor which is open or bottom floor which is closed in with windows. I had read a review online that in the morning, the top floor is extremely cold, the wind plays havoc with your face coming off the cold Lake, so we opted for inside. Food, drink, and smoking are NOT permitted, and they ARE wheelchair accessible. Side note, we had a puppy on our maiden voyage, so know you can bring your furry friend to the Island with you!

If you want a little “extra” to your Ferry Ride, choose one of the times they tour under the “Mighty Mac” bridge. This is at no extra cost, just takes longer to get to Mackinac Island. They do these late morning, and we weren’t interested since we wanted to get on the Island bright and early.

Seating is long benches to fit in as many as they can, with the back area open for people to bring and store their own bikes for Mackinac Island. We noticed a lot of employees taking the Ferry to work on the Island, which makes sense, but it must stink to have to take that every day. For a one way trip, it took us about 20 minutes, not including boarding and docking on the other side. If you want a view of the Island, sit on the LEFT side, or if you want a view of St. Ignace, sit on the RIGHT. We were on the left side and were able to watch Mackinac Island come in to view, the beautiful hotel on the hill and the gorgeous homes that dot the water’s edge. The ride was comfortable, a bit loud because of the engine, but all in all it worked and we liked it.

When you deboard the Ferry, they explain how to return and what times they come back. It was clear and easy, and we found that when we left the Island early afternoon, we didn’t have a problem, or a line, to get back on. In fact, we decided to ride the top back. Well, it was VERY windy, cold on the ears, and we couldn’t hear each other very well to chat. SO even though it was hot on the Island, it was not on the open water.

Ferry tickets cost $32 at the ticket window, $30 online in advance, and cheaper yet if your hotel is a broker for them. The cost covers a round trip ticket, just hold on to your ticket or reservation online to board again from the Island. It’s completely worth it, and one of the only ways to get ON the Island since cars and other motorized vehicles are not allowed, which is what makes it unique! Also banned are hammocks, electric bikes, Segways, and drones. The staff was friendly and helpful on both trips and at the dock. I highly recommend Sheplers Ferry as your “go to” for getting to explore the adventure of Mackinac Island. Check them out HERE, have a great day!

****Side note, thanks to EVERYONE who have donated to my hard work. This is what I do for a living, and it is a passion for me, so tossing me a couple bucks below helps me SO MUCH with everything needed. If you can’t, please consider subscribing to the blog, LIKING the blog post, and sharing any content you enjoy– it helps me out SOOOO much! I love being able to bring you all these amazing places so that YOU can do them as well. I work mostly on donations so thanks again.


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