Kayaking in the Apostle Islands Sea Caves was an amazing experience! My husband and I went on a couple’s getaway to Bayfield, WI last year. We were interested in exploring the famous Apostle Islands lakeshore and decided to explore the area with a guided kayak tour through Apostle Islands Kayaking.
We’re fairly new to kayaking, especially on the great Lake Superior, so it was important that we found an experienced guide who could teach us how to use the equipment and give tips on paddling technique. We signed up for our tour at the ticket office located right in the heart of Bayfield, WI (tickets also available online). They were able to help us choose the perfect trip for our experience level. We decided on the 3-hour Red Cliff Sea Caves Lite Kayak Tour.
We met our guides, Jake and Ben, and launched the kayaks just three miles North of Bayfield on the most spectacular summer day with an exceptionally calm Lake Superior welcoming us. We had perfect kayaking conditions. Our guides went over every piece of gear before venturing out onto the lake.
We also learned about the local land formations and even some history about the region. We paddled by Basswood Island immediately across from launch site in Red Cliff, as well as Hermit Island (where legend has it, treasure is hidden).
A favorite stop along the way for this specific tour is the 100-year old, 282-foot shipwreck, the Fedora. It was advertised as an unsinkable ship, however when a fire broke out in engine room, it was proven to indeed be sinkable. All of the crew members survived and swam to shore. The wreck is clearly viewable as you kayak above it.
Exploring Apostle Island Sea Caves
Along the way, we were able to stop and explore the famous Apostle Island sea caves. Although this specific tour didn’t take us through the large caves further out in the lake, there were still many to explore along the shoreline itself. One area was large enough to kayak into and we could hear the amazing sound of the waves echoing in and out of the sea cave.
Although there’s one spectacular archway that is large enough to paddle through, it was recently declared a bird sanctuary due to a large number of nests attached directly to the arch. Going through this specific archway wasn’t allowed. It was beautiful to photograph and watch the birds flying in and out of the nests.
Our guides were wonderful and allowed several stops to explore, rest and snack along the way, even offering to snap pictures. All of our kayaks were tandem so we learned how to kayak in unison, steer with the rear rudder, and I greatly appreciated the paddling tips which made a huge difference in preventing fatigue.
Dress comfortably and make use of synthetic or wool clothing. Be sure to avoid jeans and heavy cotton fabrics that soak up water. Remember, sea kayaking is a water-sport, and getting a little wet just adds to the fun! Bring a light raincoat or fleece. The big lake can change her mind quickly and you’ll experience cold temperatures even when it’s hot in Bayfield. Apostle Island Kayaking did provide full sea kayak skirts to help keep us dry.
What to Pack for Kayaking
In addition to the right clothing, make sure to bring your hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and sturdy sandals or shoes. If you would like to bring a camera in the kayak with you, Apostle Islands Kayaking will lend you a waterproof dry bags free of charge! I’d suggest leaving the expensive camera at home but a simple point and shoot or even your cell phone will work. I brought my waterproof sport case for my cell phone which clips right onto my life vest and it worked great.
Most of all, sit back, relax, and take in the beautiful sites of the red sandstone cliffs and sea caves. I hope you enjoy the tour as much as my husband and I did. We hope to return some day for the other tours.
If you’re interested in kayaking and want to explore more of the beauty of Lake Superior, Apostle Islands Kayaking has another tour option where you launch your kayak from a powerboat which takes you closer to the areas of most interest that are harder to paddle to from shore.
Explore Apostle Islands On Your Own
You can also take your own powerboats to explore the area. My friend launched her boat in Sandy Bay State Park and said it was about a 3 mile drive to get to the Apostle Island sea caves. She also shared a tip that you must wear a life jacket in the sea caves. They chose to paddle board through them!