Big Bay State Park Sea Caves
$65 per person – Morning and Afternoon Tours
Let the adventure begin! We are located on Madeline Island and operate kayak tours within Big Bay State Park and throughout the sea caves, here on Madeline Island. Our trained and qualified guides take you along the iconic coastline of the State Park using tandem, sea touring kayaks. Your guide will start with a short lesson on kayak basics, paddling techniques and safety instructions. Life jackets are provided for each guest. Total paddling distance is 3-4 miles and takes about 3 hours from start to finish. We require a four person minimum for the tour to depart (*see in the Q/A for special, small group pricing). We stop at a local favorite cliff jumping site if weather permits, where you can enjoy some fun in the water, snacks and picture taking! Please bring your own snacks, beverages, swimsuits, sunblock, bug spray, sun hat, glasses, shoes and clothes to get wet; we’ll provide an amazing time!
Please note that each client must be at least 8-10 years of age and at least 60lbs to participate in our tour. This is a minimum and depends greatly on the other people in your travel group. A 60lb client cannot properly paddle in a sea kayak (and use the pedals) with another participant who weighs 200lbs. Varying conditions with wind and waves require that both people in the kayak must be able to pull their own weight (literally) and keep up with the rest of the tour group. If a family of four wishes to kayak then two people with the most similar weights must ride together and have enough strength and stamina to stay with the group. Depending on experience, participants must be at least 16 years of ago to paddle solo.
Prices exclude WI state sales tax, a 7% State Park surcharge fee, and captain/guide gratuity.
Kayak Tour FAQs:
Should I make a reservation, or can I simply show up?
- Reservations need to be made in advance either online, click here or email us at [email protected]
- When booking your reservations, it’s recommended to book your tour at the beginning of the vacation. If poor weather prevents the initial tour from going out, the reservation can always be moved forward for a later date during your stay.
At what times do the AM and PM tours start?
- The AM tours start at 9:00 / 9:30am and the PM tours start at 1:00 / 1:30pm. The weather ultimately determines exact times. A representative will call you the day before your tour to verify exact departure time, discuss weather, collect final payment and answer any last-minute questions.
How far away is Big Bay State Park from the ferry landing on Madeline Island?
- Seven miles
How will I get to Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island?
- The Madeline Island Ferry make trips to-and-from Bayfield several times a day. Their schedule is updated regularly and available online. Big Bay State Park is still seven miles from the ferry landing on Madeline Island.
- A shuttle service to Big Bay State Park is not available. Also the Island does not have any taxis/Uber/etc.
- Some people enjoy biking there. It’s a flat and scenic seven mile ride.
- Other people prefer to drive there. You are responsible for paying the entry fee for your vehicle at the State Park. Current rates are available on their website. If you already have a Wisconsin State Park sticker your entry is included.
What is the State Park surcharge fee?
- There is a 7% State Park surcharge for operating tours within Big Bay State Park. The surcharge fee goes back directly into the Wisconsin State Park services in order to support maintenance projects, staffing, among other things. You will see this charge on your invoice under the 7% park surcharge fee.
Our group has an odd number of participants. How does that work with tandem kayaks?
- One person will have to kayak alone in a single person sea kayak; experienced kayakers only.
- The single participant must be able to demonstrate to the guide that they are capable of kayaking on their own while keeping up with the tour group. If they are unable to do so, they will be asked not to participate in the tour. This is for the safety of not only that individual, but for the safety of the other participants on the tour as well.
Our group has less than four people, can we still go out on the tour?
- We require a minimum of four people per tour to go out. Usually, during the summer season, we have no problem reaching this four people minimum!
- In the case that no one else has signed up for the tour, we offer the option to pay extra for the empty seats in order for the tour to still happen! Pricing for two people: $220 total tour price; three people: $85/person ($20/extra per person). *This is strictly an option if no one else is signed up for the tour.
- You also have the option for a full refund on your deposit if no one else signs up for the tour and you are not interested in paying the extra fee for a private tour.
Are pets allowed on the kayak tour?
- Pets are not allowed on the kayak tour. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough room for our furry friends.
What should I bring to the tour?
- Don’t forget to bring water or an electrolyte beverage, a light snack or pack lunch, sunscreen, sun hat, sunglasses, a rain jacket (if weather suggests rain), bug repellant, a light jacket/sweatshirt/long-sleeve shirt (non-cotton), shoes that can get wet, and wear clothes that can get wet.
- A camera!! (bring a waterproof camera bag)
- When you sign up for the tour, we will provide a suggested packing list.
- There is a lock box at the start of the tour if you’d like to lock up towels, shoes and dry clothes.
What should I wear?
- Weather permitting, we often stop for some cliff jumping and a light snack. A swimsuit, a light jacket, water shoes, long-sleeved shirt/sweatshirt (we suggest synthetic or non-cotton), rain jacket, hat and glasses are all suggested depending on weather forecasted during your tour.
Are restrooms accessible during the tour?
- There is a restroom near the start/finish of the tour at Big Bay State Park in between the parking lot and Barrier Beach.
How much experience do I need to complete the tour?
- Basic knowledge of kayaking or paddling is helpful! Your knowledgeable guide will give you all of the instructions you need before departing from the beach.
- Children under the age of 8-10 (dependent on size and experience) are not permitted on the tour. Children must weigh at least 60 pounds.
What are the age, height and weight limits for the kayaks?
- Each paddler must be at least 60 pounds and less than 300 to comfortably sit in kayak.
- Solo paddlers must be at least 16 years old.
- Tandem paddlers must weigh a combined weight of at least 200lbs to paddle together. Having two people in a tandem that are similar weights is necessary to evenly distribute weight throughout the boat. A 60lbs child does does even out with a 200lbs adult. Similarly, two participants under the age of 16 are not not permitted to ride in the same boat.
- Each participant must be able to literally “pull their own weight” and be able to efficiently paddle safely throughout the duration of the 2.5-3 hour tour.
- Participants must be under 6’3”. Participants taller than this will not be able to fit in the cockpit of the kayak.
- The combined weight of kayak partners must be under 400-420lbs (We have one kayak that can handle up to 575lbs. Please call our store at (715) 747-2100 to ask for availability).
- The cockpit of the kayaks are 17 1/2” wide and 9 1/2” deep. It is important that you can easily get in and out of an opening of this size. Not being able to maneuver easily in and out of the cockpit is a serious safety concern. In the event of an emergency, our guides need to be able to pull clients out of their boats and swim them to safety.
Do I need a wetsuit to Kayak?
- If the air and water temperatures are particularly cold a wetsuit may have to be worn. We will let you know in advance if a wetsuit is necessary and provide one for you. It’s suggested that a swimsuit or non-cotton long-underwear be worn underneath and wool socks with shoes that can get wet. A stocking cap and gloves should also be worn. Wetsuits are meant to fit snug and are often sized 2-4 sizes smaller than regular sizes. Our largest wet suit is Men’s XXL. It is important we have your current height and weight information in case we bring wetsuits to the departure site.
- Underneath your wetsuit you’ll need to wear undergarments. Most often long underwear, wool socks, rash guards and/or swimwear are worn to protect from cold temperatures and chafing.
What happens after I register online?
- After you send in your registration, our email system will receive your information. We will then be in communication with you through email to confirm your tour type and date. Our confirmation process includes an invoice for a 50% deposit to reserve your spot on our calendar. We will send instructions on how to pay your deposit and complete the client info section of our registration form, which provides us with physical information for each individual on the tour. This information is critical for us to ensure safety on all of our tours. Once we have received your deposit, we will send you a confirmation document with information about tour time, date, and remaining payment. The day before your tour, we will call to officially confirm the time of your tour and touch base regarding the weather on your departure date.
What’s your cancellation policy?
- You can cancel your tour four weeks or more before the tour date and receive a full refund of your deposit minus a $20 per person processing fee. Canceling within two to four weeks prior to the tour, there is a 50% refund of the deposit minus $20 per person processing fee. No refunds are given with less than two-week notice.
- Tour canceled due to inclement weather will receive a full refund.
- Refunds are issued in the same form they are received. If booking online, we will refund you through our PayPal online booking system.
Can I bring my own kayak for the tour? Is there a discount?
- Yes! If you’re an avid paddler and prefer your own kayak you’re welcome to bring your own with some conditions. Lake Superior is no joke! There is wind, waves, current, tides and more. Anyone bringing their own kayak must have a sit-in touring boat with a rudder, fixed tracking fin or a skeg (a dropdown fin). A sit-on-top will not be allowed.
- Your kayak must start and finish in the same location as the rest of the tour. This does mean that you are responsible for transport of your vessel to and from the beach.
- The tour fee for bringing your own kayak is only $30!
What is your tipping policy? Do guides accept tips?
- Yes, they do! If you’ve had a fantastic tour filled with new knowledge, awesome photos, huge smiles and life changing experiences then a 20% tip to your guide(s) is deeply appreciated and accepted. If you’ve received anything less than that from your guide, your tip can reflect that. Let it reflect your experience. Our goal is always to provide a memorable experience that brings people closer to nature and to one another.
We ask that all clients are of sound mind and body while on the tour. Your safety is our number one concern. If a client is unable to preform the tasks necessary to participate in the duration of the tour, the guide has the right to refuse services and a refund will not be issued.