P.O. Box 1157, Leland, MI 49654
Now, here’s the under the radar part about Leland. Every year tons of people come to Fish Town. But most people don’t know that if you get on a big boat at the end of the dock, you’re only an hour and a half away from one of the best Michigan adventures you’ll ever have. Since 1917 the Manitou Island Transit Company has been taking people out to explore both North and South Manitou Island. These two beautiful and rugged islands are about fifteen miles off shore and are part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
The seas were high the day we went, so the ride out was an absolute blast. Holding onto the person next to you really is a great way to meet new people. We took the trip out to South Manitou Island. The island is only about three miles across but actually feels much bigger. No one really lives on the island anymore, but it’s become an incredible place to camp or just explore for the day.
When we arrived we met up with Mike Grosvenor. His family has been there for generations, and he knows everything there is to know about these islands. Mike owns the Manitou Island Transit Company and they offer fun and educational tours of the entire island.
There were two things I’d heard about on the island that I really wanted to see. The first one was the shipwreck of the Francisco Morazan. It’s a Liberian freighter that ran aground off the south end on the island back in 1960. It’s unbelievably close to shore, and the huge ship is only partially submerged. It’s quite a sight to see.
Next we went to explore what they call The Valley of Giants. It’s a forest deep in the island’s interior filled with mammoth and ancient cedar trees that date back to the time of Columbus. They’re only in this one spot on the island. Unfortunately, new giant cedars aren’t replacing these, and the Valley of Giants will one day disappear, so you really should put this on your Michigan bucket list and come see these trees.
The trip out to South Manitou Island was a great Michigan adventure. If you’re going there for the very first time, I highly recommend you take the guided tour. It’s a great way to see everything and learn all about the island.