The Great Lakes: Where to Sea Kayak on Lake Superior

kayaker on lake superior

Endless water on Superior (photo courtesy of Ryan B.)

The Great Lakes hold 84% of North America’s fresh surface water and has around 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of shoreline. That makes these five lakes a world-class inland sea kayaking destination.

But there’s SO much water, how to know where to go? We’ve put together a list of outfitters along the Great Lakes. You can start there. If you’re experienced and have your own gear, they can tell you the best places in their area.

Where to Sea Kayak on Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest of all the Great Lakes. In fact, Superior holds half of the water that’s in the Great Lakes. It’s the largest fresh water lake in the world by surface area.

All the Great Lakes deserve our respect, but especially Lake Superior. If you’re new to sea kayaking we highly recommend you go through a licensed outfitter. Their guides will know the lake, have the proper gear and know how to keep you safe out there.

Three US states and one Canadian province border this lake. Let’s look at each of them:

Wisconsin Sea Kayak Outfitters

We’ll start in our home state of Wisconsin, where Superior is just a couple hours north of our headquarters in Osceola. The undisputed attraction here is the Apostle Islands along with the sea caves along Apostle Islands National Seashore.

Adventure Vacations (LaPointe, WI) operates half-day sea kayak tours from Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands. The Island has its own sea caves and cliffs to make for a wonderful few hours of paddling.

Apostle Islands Kayak Tours (Bayfield, WI) highlights their tours that go to more protected and less popular destinations in the area. They offer a couple beginner level tours in areas where small waves are the norm but you still get sea caves and even a 1910 shipwreck.

kayakers sea caves lake superior

Kayaking Apostle Islands National Seashore (photo courtesy of Sharon Brodin)

Lost Creek Adventures (Cornucopia, WI) offers half-day and full day sea kayak tours all around the Apostle Islands, as well as overnight kayak camping trips. One of their unique tours is a kayak/snorkeling combo at a shipwreck site.

Trek & Trail (Bayfield, WI) offers Apostle Islands and sea cave tours from half-day to full-day to multi-day trips of 2-7 days. Their most advanced trip is the 6-day Devil’s Island Rendezvous.

Whitecap Kayak (Washburn, WI) takes their guests to Wisconsin’s sea caves and Apostle Islands for half-day and day trips. They also offer several multi-day camping expeditions, both Apostle Islands and along Michigan’s Upper Peninsula coast.

Minnesota Sea Kayak Outfitters

The Minnesota stretch of Lake Superior is known as the North Shore. It has some spectacular features including 300-foot cliffs, the famous Split Rock Lighthouse and several state parks.

Bear Track Outfitting Co. (Grand Marais, MN) offer sea kayaking day trip tours from the Grand Marais Harbor. This natural harbor, peninsula and lighthouse offer lots of interest in this bustling tourist town.

Day Tripper of Duluth (Duluth, MN) offers 2 and 4-hour kayak trips to nearby Splitrock State Park with its famous lighthouse, and in and around the Duluth Harbor. They even offer an iceberg tour when conditions are just right.

kayakers by split rock lighthouse

Kayakers in front of Split Rock Lighthouse (photo courtesy of Day Tripper of Duluth)

Positive Energy Outdoors (Duluth, MN) offers half-day kayak tours to Split Rock State Park and its lighthouse. The Burlington Bay tour takes you through areas of active shipping, where you’ll be able to see the 1,000-foot iron ore ships going in and out.

Sawtooth Outfitters (Tofte, MN) offers kayak tours that explore North Shore features like the Temperance River area and the Palisade Head high cliffs and sea caves. Half-day and full-day trips are available.  

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply (Grand Marais, MN) offers half-day tours in and around the Grand Marais area. They also offer a 6-day trip to Isle Royale State Park that includes hiking, and a full-day trip an hour northeast along some remote Canadian shore (when the international border is open).

Michigan Sea Kayak Outfitters

Most popular with sea kayakers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore with its breathtaking high cliffs and sea caves. Isle Royale National Park is also part of the state, and is a superb sea kayaking destination.

Keewanaw Adventure Company (Copper Harbor, MI) offers several half and full-day kayak tours along the shoreline of the Keewanaw Peninsula. They also offer 4, 5 and 6-day overnight trips to Isle Royale (2021 trips cancelled due to Covid, unfortunately).

Paddling Michigan’s Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tours (Munising, MI) offers several sea kayak tours to Pictured Rocks from 2-8 hours long. These include a kayak/hike combo and a sunset paddle.

Pictured Rocks Adventure (Millersburg, MI) has a 2 and 4-hour tour, as well as their 7-day Full Coastline Hike and Kayak tour to beautiful Pictured Rocks. They meet their guests an hour early for safety instructions so the time they pay for is all on the water.

Pictured Rocks Kayaking (Munising, MI) offers a unique set up: they take you on a 72-passenger boat from which you’ll launch your kayak and paddle to all the main features along Pictured Rocks. This way you see as much of the coastline as possible in one day.

kayakers with iron ore ship

These 1,000-foot iron ore ships are a common sight on Lake Superior (photo courtesy of Four on the Water)

Rock Harbor Lodge (Isle Royale National Park, MI) is on Isle Royale and offers several multi-day kayak trips: each day on the water and each night in the comfort of the lodge. 3-6 day options are available (2021 trips already sold out in May—plan ahead!).

Superior Kayaking Company (Munising, MI) is an intimate operation that offers 2 and 5-hour tours to Presque Isle and Grand Island. They also offer an overnight kayak camping tours from 2-5 days to Grand Island with its 200-foot cliffs and sea caves.

Ontario Sea Kayak Outfitters

While Ontario has far more Superior lakeshore than the three US states, it’s a remote area with very few towns, so just a handful of sea kayak outfitters are on the Big Lake. Until the international border re-opens for tourism, Canada is closed to US residents. But we can still dream!

Naturally Superior Adventures (Wawa, ON) offers specific multi-day kayak tours during  specific dates throughout the summer, with trips suitable for beginner through advanced paddlers. If none of their trips and dates work for you, they’ll work with you to design a custom trip.

Rock Island Lodge (Wawa, ON) offers full-day tours along with basic instruction for beginners. They also offer a half-day basic sea kayak course with the other half-day free for you to paddle Michipicoten Bay.

Superior Outfitters (Rossport, ON) are on the very north of Lake Superior, “nestled among the Rossport Islands, the largest archipelago on Lake Superior and the gateway to the National Marine Conservation Area.” Half-day and full-day trips are both available in the protected waters of the Islands.

kayaker on lake superior's minnesota shore

Kayaking the Big Lake off Minnesota’s North Shore (photo courtesy of Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply)

We want to help you find the paddle that’s right for you! Contact our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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