Many winters, the waters off Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands are so frozen cold that you can walk across them and through the mysterious coastal caves.
Come summer, however, the ice is melted away—and you’re left with an enchanting aquatic experience, one that lets you cruise past colorful sandstone cliffs (or, maybe, paddle your way into the curious caves themselves).
Below, learn more about this hidden gem of the Great Lakes—as well as a few great ways to enjoy it. Take a look.
Getting to the islands
You can’t go wrong with a day spent on the Wisconsin shore of Lake Superior. The state’s northern stretch of shoreline features plenty of access points from which to start your Monterey adventure—and while winter temps may lead to an icy cover of the lake, daytime highs in the summer can feel downright balmy! So whether you want to simply cruise, enjoy a lakeside picnic, or maybe get in the water for yourself, you can do that with ease.
To experience the majestic look and out-of-the-way feel of the Apostle Islands, however, you’ll want to start your trip from the “horn” of Wisconsin, that juts out from the northwestern corner of the state toward Lake Superior.
Natural beauty and historical charm
So what awaits at the islands themselves? Natural beauty, historical charm, and a whole lot more.
Despite the name of the island chain (which was likely named by Jesuit French Canadians), there are not 12 islands but in fact 21. Each has its own unique character. Devils Island, for example, is home to the 19th century Devils Island Light. You can climb it and then see the island (and its surrounding water) from an all-new perspective! Before you leave, you’ll want to explore one of the island’s most distinguished features: its sea caves. You can weave in and out of the one-of-a-kind sandstone formations on the water, an experience that can also be enjoyed at nearby Sand Island.
Enjoying the best of both worlds
Speaking of kayaking—what’s the best way to do it in the Apostle Islands?
Local officials recommend using larger vessels, like your Monterey, to get from the lakeshore to the islands, or to hop from island to island. For smaller, more hands-on adventures into the sea caves and intricate formations of these islands’ shorelines, hop into your canoe or kayak while docking your boat nearby. It’s a great way to experience the lake on a calm day, a feeling you can’t replicate on busier, more exposed surfaces.
Wisconsin may be known as America’s Dairyland—and rightfully so—but spots like Apostle Islands add to the state’s credit as a bona fide natural escape, too.