Boat Tour Questions & Answers


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Let your captain show the way! Enjoy a Boat Tour of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore!

Boat Tour FAQs:

Q: What time does the tour start?

  • Typically, the morning tours start at 9am or 10am; afternoon tours start at 2pm or 3pm. Your approximate tour time will be provided in your confirmation document (usually sent within 24 hours of your registration). All depart times are subject to weather and will be confirmed via text or call the day before your tour date.

Q: What happens after I register for the tour?

  • You will receive an autogenerated email from us with your registration details and a second autogenerated email from PayPal. We require a deposit of at least 50% of your tour price in order to reserve your spot on our calendar. Within 24 hours of your registration, you will receive a confirmation document via email from our shop staff that will have all the details (time, place, and tour type) of your tour. Please review this confirmation document and email carefully for your tour information as well as details about what to wear/bring and when/where to meet us.
  • The confirmation email will also provide you instructions on how to fill out your client/participant info. You will need to provided details about each member of your party such as name, age, height, weight, ability to swim, and any health concerns. This is information your boat captain needs for your safety and the safety of everyone on the tour.
  • A representative will text or call you the day before your tour to verify exact departure time, discuss weather, collect final payment and answer any last-minute questions.

Q: When do I pay for the tour?

  • We require a deposit of at least 50% of your total tour price in order to hold your reservation.
  • The second half of your payment will be due the day before the tour departure. This payment can be made at our Madeline Island Beach Shop, over the phone, or email/PayPal link. 
  • Your full payment will be refunded if your tour is canceled due to bad weather.

Q: How do I pay for the tour?

  • The 50% deposit to hold your spot can be paid via PayPal payment prompted after registering the time and date of your tour. You do not need a pre existing PayPal account and all major credit cards are accepted. You will receive an autogenerated email from PayPal after making this payment.
  • Your second payment can be paid with any major credit card or cash in our Beach Shop or via email/phone. We are not able to “recharge” your first card used for the 50% deposit as we do not keep your credit card information on file.

Q: What is the National Park surcharge fee?

  • There is a 3% park surcharge for all boat tours, for us operating within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. This money goes directly back to the NPS. These funds are used to support projects such as docks, launches, and grounds keeping; hiring staff for lighthouse tours and interpretation on the islands and visitor centers; visitor protection rangers responding to emergencies; amongst other things. You will find the charge on your invoice under the 3% park surcharge fee.

Q: What type of boats are used for the tour?

  • We use 21-24 foot cuddy cabin power boats. These boats are family friendly because they comfortably fit six adults plus they have a little “cabin” which allows for storage space for your coolers. This space also functions as a spot to change in/out of your swimsuit or wet clothes. 

Q: What if there is bad weather the day of our tour?

  • Your safety is our top priority when planning a tour with us. If we need to reschedule your tour due to weather, we will try our best to reschedule while you are in the area, backup date noted accordingly.
  • If we are unable to get you on the water due to adverse weather, we will provide a FULL refund of your deposit.
  • We recommend booking your tour towards the beginning of your vacation in case it needs to be pushed forward due to bad weather.

Q: What if there are big waves and wind that doesn’t permit the tour to go to Devil’s Island?

  • Sometimes, the weather on Lake Superior makes it difficult to head out to the caves on Devils Island. We are well prepared with backup options:
    • Sand Island has similar sea caves and rock formations to Devils Island. Your captain may suggest seeing the sea caves at Sand Island instead of Devils.
    • Meyers Beach also has rock formations similar to those at Devils Island. No matter the alternate route, you will not be disappointed by the amazing views found in the Apostle Islands!
  • Please note this may extend the time of your tour, as those locations are further from our main route. This decision will be made at the Captain’s discretion, while in communication with your group. 

Q: What if we need to cancel our tour?

  • You can cancel your tour up to four weeks or more before the tour date and receive a full refund of your deposit, minus a $20 per person processing fee.
  • Cancelling within two to four weeks prior to your tour, you will receive a 50% refund of your deposit, minus $20 per person processing fee.
  • No refunds are given less than two weeks’ notice of the tour date unless emergency circumstances apply. 

Q: What should we wear for the tour?

  • We will provide a suggested packing list at the time of your tour confirmation. Don’t forget a hat and sunglasses, wearing plenty of layers, including a sweatshirt, windbreaker, and long pants, and/or a towel or blanket, as it is always chillier on the water than you expect. Feel free to bring a swimsuit if you’re up for a jump in the lake!

Q: Are there bugs bad in the Apostle Islands?

  • Yes, the bugs (mosquitos and black flies) can be bad on the islands; mostly during the late spring/early summer. Many factors affect the bug situation; temperatures, wind, location, etc.
  • While out of our control, your captain will try to find a solution if the black flies become unbearable during your tour; and may even shorten your tour. We will give you a discount in the chance that your tour is cut short.
  • Wearing long pants and long sleeves are the best defense against bug bites.

Q: What should we bring on the tour?

  • Bring everything you would think you need for a trip on a boat; sunscreen, bug spray, hats and towels, etc. We will provide a packing list once you register for the tour.
  • Please feel free to bring your own lunch, snacks and beverages; Adventure Vacations does not provide lunch or beverages. No glass bottles are allowed in the park/on our boats. 
  • If you forget, you can always double check your confirmation document about what we recommend to wear/bring on your tour. 

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Q: Does it cost extra to tour the lighthouse on Raspberry Island?

  • If you would like a tour of the Raspberry Island Lighthouse, you will have to pay an extra fee for this service through the National Park Services. Please bring small bills of cash to pay at the time of the Lighthouse Tour.  
  • Instead, visitors are able to walk through the first floor of the lighthouse which has been restored to appear as it did in the 1920’s. Tours of the Raspberry Lighthouse are available from Mid-June through Labor Day 10am – 5pm. Prices are $3.00 for children (0-16yo), $5.00 for adults, and $10.00 for families. 

Q: Can kids come?

  • Of course, kids are welcome on our tours! Any children 12 and under must wear lifejackets (provided by Adventure Vacations or bring your own!) at all times on the boat.
  • Please note that the price is the same for each person on the boat, regardless of their size or age.

 

Q: Can I bring my dog?

  • Dogs are allowed on our tours; however, we do require an additional fee. They also require a “sniff” test to make sure they will not make a mess in the boat.
  • After you make a reservation, please email us at trips@adv-vac.com or call us at 715-747-2100 and provide us your reservation ID, indicate you would like to bring a dog and its size so we can adjust your final payment to include the dog fee. All parties who are on your tour must also be comfortable with a dog. Please tell us as soon as you book via email or phone if there will be a dog on your tour so we can communicate this to the other parties on your tour. 
  • Unfortunately, larger breeds are not allowed onboard the boats (Mastiffs, Great Danes, etc.). Please note there is no kennel service on the Island or in Bayfield.
  • Fees: 
    • Dogs 10lbs and under – $15 fee
    • Dogs 20-40lbs – $30 fee
    • Dogs 40-60lbs – $50 fee
    • Dogs 60-90lbs – $75 fee
    • Dogs over 90lbs – $100 (its like they take up a whole seat space on the boat)

Q: Is there a bathroom on the boat?

  • We do not have bathrooms on the boat, however, there are bathrooms along the tour at certain Island stops.

Q: Are your tours accessible to people with limited mobility? 

  • Our boats are somewhat accessible to folks with limited mobility, but not entirely accessible.
  • If someone walks with a cane/walker, please inform them that they do need to step down from the dock into the boat (about a stair and a half in depth) and from the boat onto the floor of the boat (2 steps total). If someone will need to be supported during that, they will need someone else in their party to help them.
  • If someone is in a wheelchair, someone in their party will need to be able to physically lift and carry that person into the boat.
  • There is no bathroom on the boat. All bathroom breaks will be on islands which will require getting out of the boat.

Q: What if I have a severe joint injury, back injury, or an injury that might be aggravated by choppy/bumpy conditions?

  • If you or someone in the party has a back injury, joint injury, or anything that might cause pain when driving over rough waters in our power boats, please let us know. If the weather conditions look like they may aggravate their condition or we cannot provide a safe and comfortable ride, we will need to either reschedule your tour or provide a full refund. 

Q: We don’t intend to visit Madeline Island; can the tour leave from Bayfield?

  • Yes! We can pick up your group in Bayfield (and drop you off). More details, such as the address, will be provided for you at the time of confirming your tour registration.
  • There is no extra cost for a Bayfield pick up/drop off.
  • You can find info about Bayfield city parking, click here

Q: Is gratuity included in the tour cost?

  • No, a tip for your captain is not included. We suggest tipping your captain as you would tip your server in a restaurant; around 10-20% gratuity is greatly appreciated by your captain based on your experience and their role in your tour.
  • If you found your trip to be “un-tip worthy” please let us know how we can improve!

Q: What if our group doesn’t meet the minimum four people and it’s the day of the tour but no one else has signed up?

  • Hopefully we will be able to find another group to meet the minimum requirements! We are usually busy mid June through end of August and have no problem finding others to adventure with!
  • We will be in touch in the days leading up to your tour if no one else has signed up to provide you with options to reschedule or pay the additional seats to meet the minimum four people. 
  • If the options above are not possible and no one else signs up, you will get a full refund of your deposit for your tour.

Q: What if we would like to book  a private tour? 

  • If you would like to book a private tour, the prices are listed below. Prices do not include the Wisconsin state sales tax (5.5%) and National Park Service fee (3%): 
    • 3 hour Devils Island Express Boat Ride – $720.00 
    • 4 hour Devils Island Boat Ride – $840.00
    • 5 hour Boat & Kayak Tour – $1,140.00 

Q: Can you accommodate a larger group than 6?

  • We can accommodate to groups larger than 6 people, however, per Coast Guard regulation, our captained charters only carry up to 6 clients per boat. If someone in your group is an experienced boat driver, we offer boat rentals that can hold up to 8 people including the driver. Some larger groups choose to have one captained boat and then a rental boat follow.

 *Some aspects of these tours, such as lighthouse visits and short tours of historic sites, are run by the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and are offered by the Park Service, not by us. Therefore we ask for your understanding and flexibility when it comes to arranging these parts of the tour. At certain times of the year there are fewer rangers operating lighthouses and camps in the National Park and docks/lighthouses are sometimes under construction, which means it may not always be possible to visit lighthouses and other park-run attractions. The Park also charges small fees for some of its tours, ranging from $3-5 per person or $10 per family. They ask that each individual or group pays in cash before the start of their tour.