Join us on a kayak tour of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Experience a series of sea kayaking and hiking day trips from our Little Sand Bay Base Camp, including beautiful Sand Island, the Mawikwe Sea Caves, Bark Bay Slough, or the shipwrecks of Red Cliff Bay. So many day trip options await you on this popular Apostle Islands offering just north of Bayfield, Wisconsin. Enjoy delicious food, experience breathtaking sunsets over Lake Superior, and listen to waves crash along the shore. The Apostle Islands National Lake Shore is great for beginning sea kayakers and seasoned paddlers alike.
ItineraryExpand All Fields
Day 1: Welcome to WI's beautiful base camp at Little Sand Bay.
In the afternoon meet at our beautiful base camp at Little Sand Bay. Review personal gear, participate in a sea kayaking orientation, and get to know your trip mates. Learn about the Lake Superior "Cedar - Hemlock" forest unique to this area, and take a hike to School Bus Rock, a huge boulder deposited by the glaciers 10,000 years ago. Spend the evening at camp roasting marshmallows over the fire.
Day 2: Explore the Mawikwe Bay Sea Caves by day and enjoy a campfire by night.
Rise early for a delicious breakfast paired with a steaming cup of coffee. Review paddling skills with your guides and start exploring the area. Depending on the weather and wind direction, explore the spectacular Mawikwe Bay Sea Caves or drive to Red Cliff to explore Buffalo Bay and paddle among 19th century shipwrecks. Enjoy a casual paddle back to the beach and head back to base camp for dinner. Listen to stories about many of the Lake Superior shipwrecks around the campfire in the evening.
Day 3: Paddle a scenic route from Little Sand Bay to Sand Island.
Kayak out to Sand Island to explore the Swallow Point sea caves, Justice Bay, and the historic Sand Island lighthouse on the northeast shore. Eat lunch on a remote beach and, weather permitting, kayak in and out of the caves' sculpted rock chambers. Enjoy one last night at our Little Sand Bay Base Camp with hot showers, great food, and good company.
Day 4: Enjoy one final adventure before saying farewell to your trip mates.
After breakfast, partake in one final adventure. Enjoy sharing stories with your trip mates over lunch before your afternoon departure.
Dates & Fees
What to Expect
ACCOMMODATIONS: You will enjoy your stay at our Little Sand Bay Base Camp. At night you will sleep on comfortable cots in platform tents. Typically, there are 2-3 people per 4-person platform tent (other arrangements can be made). Our Little Sand Bay Base Camp has very nice bathrooms and shower facilities with hot water.
MEALS: We’ll enjoy preparing our meals together in our rustic base camp kitchens using fresh, healthy ingredients for bountiful dishes. Rise to the smell of freshly brewed coffee to enjoy with your breakfast of eggs, oatmeal, or granola. We’ll pack picnic lunches with hearty snacks before heading off to explore. In the evening, we’ll prepare our dinner together over stoves and campfires and then finish with s’mores or a glass of wine. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: You will either hike or paddle in Current Design sea kayaks which hold 2 or 3 people plus all necessary gear. An average day’s travel consists of 2-6 paddling and/or hiking hours, depending on weather conditions. Travel distances vary from 4-6 miles each day. No previous sea kayaking experience is needed to complete this trip.
YOUR GROUP: As part of our ongoing COVID-19 safety protocols, all of our groups in 2021 will be made up of 3-12 people who know each other and have indicated they are comfortable traveling together and 1-2 Wilderness Inquiry guides. We welcome people of various ages, backgrounds, and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however, most people pitch in where they can.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all sea kayak gear and group equipment. You will be assigned the same gear for the duration of your trip and it will be sanitized between trips. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items.
HEALTH PRE-SCREENING: Upon your arrival, we will perform a health screening that will include confirming that you have no COVID-19 related symptoms (for example: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat) or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 related symptoms within the last 2 weeks. We will also take each group member’s temperature daily. If COVID-19 related symptoms develop during your trip, the trip will end immediately and everyone must return home as soon as safely able.
SAFETY WHILE ON TRAIL: All participants and staff will wear masks when social distancing is not possible (i.e. loading/unloading boats, cooking, etc.) or when requested by a WI staff member. Participants will provide their own transportation to/from programming sites. Participants and staff will not share vehicles. Where available, participant groups will be assigned their own bathroom for the duration of the trip. When not possible, such as in backcountry sites, cleaning between each use will be facilitated. Thorough hand washing and/or gloves and masks will be worn during meal preparation.Read more »
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where do we meet?
Standard Meeting Places and Times
Start: Little Sand Bay Base Camp at 1:30 PM (local time)
End: Little Sand Bay Base Camp at 1:30 PM (local time)
This trip begins at 1:30 PM at our Little Sand Bay Base Camp near Bayfield, WI, where parking is available. This trip ends at Little Sand Bay Base Camp at 1:30 PM. Detailed meeting place directions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip. Booking a flight? We recommend flying in the night before your trip to Duluth or Minneapolis St. Paul airports, and flying out from Duluth after 5:30 PM and from Minneapolis St. Paul after 9:00 PM.
Do you have any additional health restrictions on trail?
In addition to following CDC guidelines, we work with a team of community and health experts to help guide our safety measures on and off the trail. Find a complete list of steps we are taking to provide you the safest experience here: https://www.wildernessinquiry.org/covid19/
Do you offer financial aid?
Yes - we believe the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors should be available to everyone. To keep our programs as financially accessible as possible, each year we raise funds to support need-based scholarships. Certain restrictions apply. Financial aid is available for a select number of trips only and typically not available for international trips. Click here to apply for financial aid. This website also shows a list of trips that are currently eligible for financial aid. Check back often, as this list is updated regularly! Call 612-676-9400 for more information.
Do I need paddling experience to join a canoe or kayak trip?
Paddling trips with WI are appropriate for beginners and seasoned paddlers alike. On the first day of all trips, basic paddling strokes will be taught by the trip leader. Each trip gives participants multiple opportunities to practice their skills. Participants with more experience will have plenty of opportunity to paddle during the trip, and even to help teach less experienced paddlers!
What is the base camp like on the Apostle Islands trips?
We refer to our property as the Little Sand Bay Base Camp. The camp is approximately 1,500 feet from the Lake Superior lakeshore near Little Sand Bay in Northern Wisconsin. Our base camp offers camping at its most comfortable and accessible. All tents are large enough to stand upright, and are set up on comfortable wooden platforms. Hot showers, private bathrooms, a roofed pavilion space, and an indoor seating area for leisure time are other key features. The camp consists of 40 acres of woods with wood chip trails, 5 campsites, and a gear warehouse. Watch this short video to see what it is like.
I use a wheelchair, can I still participate?
Yes, our Basecamp is accessible and this trip is pretty accessible overall. Of course, each person is different so we will ask you to complete a standard health form. If we have any questions we will call you to discuss them. We do not recommend this trip for people who use electric wheelchairs, unless they bring their own van or ability to transport their power-chair.