How do you get to the Lake Erie Islands?
November 06, 2009
The Village of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island is one of the most popular hot spots in the Lake Erie Shores and Islands. As such, there are many options to get there.
Jet Express – Port Clinton, Sandusky, Lorain
The Jet Express is a passenger only ferry with three locations from which to start your island adventure. Each boat will drop you off right in the heart of downtown Put-in-Bay.
The newest location is Lorain, OH. This past summer, the Jet Express IV would make one trip from the Black River Landing in the morning bound for Kelley’s Island (27 miles) and Put-in Bay (35 miles) and made one return trip in the evening from both locations on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The Jet Express also departs from downtown Sandusky for a 45-minute trip to Kelleys Island and Put-in Bay. This location operates from the end of May through the end of September and leaves roughly every 2 hours.
The other location is Downtown Port Clinton, a 25-minute trip to Put-in-Bay. This location operates from the beginning of May until late-October. The boats leave approximately every 45 minutes. The Jet Express is the last boat off the island departing between 10:30pm and Midnight depending on the season. Charter trips are also available, see website for details.
Miller Boat Line – Catawba
The 18-minute trip on the Miller Ferry departs from the point of Catawba (State Route 53 N) and docks on the South side of South Bass Island about 1 ½ miles from downtown. This is the only Ferry that provides vehicle service to Put-in-Bay with no reservations required. (See website for vehicle regulations) Miller Ferries start running in early Spring and run until late Fall. The Ferry departs hourly in the Spring and Fall, and every ½ hour in the Summer. Charter trips are also available, see website for details.
Goodtime I – Sandusky
The Goodtime I provides a Daytime Island-Hopping Cruise to Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island. These start running at the end of May through the end of August. Your Cruise departs Sandusky in the morning, with a 1 ½ hour stop at Kelleys Island and a 3 ½ hour stop at Put-in-Bay and direct return to Sandusky in the early evening (one trip per day). Evening themed cruises and special charter trips also take place. See website for details.
Middle Bass Island
Called Ile des Fleurs or Island of Flowers by early French explorers, Middle Bass is an island with friendly people, blue water, glacial groves, small houses, rental cabins, camping, a historic district, a wildlife refuge, and an Ohio state park & marina. Access is by public ferries, private boats and planes, and air services.
Miller Boat Line – Catawba
The Miller Ferry provides a 45-minute passenger and vehicle service from the point of Catawba (St. Rt. 53N) to Middle Bass Island. Reservations are required for vehicles by 4:00pm the day before and may be made up to two weeks in advance. Ferries run from early Spring through late Fall (weather permitting) with a variety of departure times. Check out the website for exact departure times.
Sonny S – Put-in-Bay
The Sonny S docks at The Boardwalk on Put-in-Bay and takes passengers only to Middle Bass Island. Service runs from mid-June until mid-August with departures hourly from each location.
North Bass Island
Ohio’s northernmost island, is mostly owned by the State of Ohio. Paramount Distillers still cultivates vineyards on the island. There are less than 20 people that live on the island year-round. There are no public facilities on the island – not even a general store, as such there are no ferries that travel to the island.
Kelleys, the largest of Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands, welcomes thousands of visitors each year with its blend of nature, history and contemporary attractions.
Kelleys Island Ferry – Marblehead
The MV Shirley Irene provides a 20-minute passenger and vehicle service from downtown Marblehead. Boats are scheduled at least every hour year round (weather permitting) with additional service at peak times and holidays.
Goodtime I– Sandusky
The Goodtime I provides a Daytime Island-Hopping Cruise to Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island. These start running at the end of May through the end of August. Your Cruise departs Sandusky in the morning, with a 1 ½ hour stop at Kelleys Island and a 3 ½ hour stop at Put-in-Bay and direct return to Sandusky in the early evening (one trip per day).
Jet Express – Sandusky
The Jet Express departs from downtown Sandusky for a 45-minute trip to Kelleys Island and Put-in Bay. This location operates from the end of May through the end of September from this location, and leaves roughly every 2 hours.
Pelee Island is the largest of the Lake Erie Islands. Popular activities for visitors include birding, canoeing, kayaking and hiking. There are about 42 miles of roads on the island, 21 paved, making it easy to explore the island.
MV Pelee Islander – Sandusky
The Pelee Islander carries 195 passengers and 10 vehicles. The leisure cruise to Pelee Island can range from one-and-a-half to just over two hours dependent on departure routes. The time of year determines whether passengers board the ferry service at nearby Kingsville or Leamington, and on occasion, Sandusky, Ohio. While on board, passengers can enjoy light meals and refreshments or browse for souvenirs in the gift shop. Visit the website for reservation information and departure days/times. Note: Pelee Island is part of Canada; passport required.
Johnson’s Island was the site of a Confederate POW prison operated by the Union forces. Other than the cemetery, the island is largely privately owned.
Access to the island is over a causeway by car, and a minimal toll is required. Directions: From St. Rt. 2, take Route 269 N exit toward Marblehead. Head east (right) on Route 269 to East Bayshore Road and turn left. Follow approximately six miles to Gaydos Road, turn right on Gaydos Rd to the causeway.
Gibraltar Island is home to Stone Laboratory, operated by the Ohio Sea Grant College Program of The Ohio State University. Professional biologists, educators and students use the lab for research. Island tours are offered every summer, with an Open House in September.
Put-in-Bay Water Taxi
Transportation is via the Put-in-Bay Water Taxi, which is docked at The Boardwalk at Put-in-Bay.
Flights to the Islands
… not only transportation but a really great view of the Lake Erie Islands!
Griffing Flying Service – Sandusky/Port Clinton
Flights depart from Griffing Sandusky Airport in Sandusky, Ohio and Erie Ottawa Regional Airport in Port Clinton. Check out website for reservation policies and pricing information.
Dairy AIR – Fremont /Port Clinton, OH; and Monroe and Grosse Ile, MI. Dairy AIR offers year-round daytime only service to Put-in-Bay!
There are other smaller islands in the area that are either privately owned or reserved for wildlife: Rattlesnake Island, Green Island, West Sister Island, Mouse Island, Ballast Island, and Sugar Island.
Ohio's Lake Erie Shores & Islands
One of the Midwest hottest vacation spots, the region between Toledo and Cleveland provides an eclectic mix of historically significant sites, family-fun amusements, gorgeous scenery, and outdoor recreation.