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Boating Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands

Boating Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands

Published May 2019

Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands is a boater’s dream! The region is filled with marinas and transient dockage so that visitors via the lake have plenty of places to find adventure.

If your boating adventures involve fishing, there has never been a better time to fish the Walleye Capital of the World, with the Ohio Division of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife predicting excellent fishing opportunities for 2019. In addition to forecasted record walleye catches, yellow perch, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass catches will be plentiful.

The entire region is boater-friendly. Nearly 90 marinas are available for boaters throughout the region, with most of them offering transient dockage or mooring buoys. Marinas with transient dockage allow those visiting the region via boat to easily reach major attractions, such as Cedar Point amusement park, or get close to downtown shopping and dining districts with businesses located within walking distance. There are even several area restaurants that offer dock-and-dine options, for boaters out for a quick bite.

Where do boaters go? Here is a bit about each of our coastal, boating communities.

Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island

Many visitors begin with a narrated tour on the island tour train; but, for those wishing to go at their own pace there are golf carts, scooters, and bicycles to rent. The island offers a “Kids Love Put-in-Bay” trail, filled with family-friendly fun such as a butterfly house, miniature golf, cave tours, and a carousel. History enthusiasts won't want to miss Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial. There are numerous shopping spots and a wide selection of restaurants and pubs to please every taste and budget.

Transient boat dockage at Put-in-Bay is plentiful but also very popular, especially on weekends. Three large public docks downtown can accommodate hundreds of boats. Mooring buoys are also available to rent in the harbor with water taxi shuttle service available. Dockage can be reserved at several marinas including Miller Marina, The Crew’s Nest, Boardwalk Marina, and Park Place Boat Club.

Middle Bass Island

Middle Bass is a green island with rental homes, cottages and condos, camping, beaches, and a wildlife refuge. There are also a small number of dining spots and shops.

Middle Bass Island State Park features a 190-slip marina, primitive camping, bicycle rentals, miniature golf, and more. The state park is the only transient dockage on the island; however, ferry service is available to and from Put-in-Bay if you dock there.

Kelleys Island

Most commonly explored by foot, bike, golf cart, and/or kayak, Ohio’s largest island is full of outdoor opportunities for all ages. The Glacial Grooves National Natural Landmark is a favorite destination. There is also a popular downtown district that offers shopping and entertainment, as well as dining.

Transient dockage is available at several island marinas, including Craft’s Lakeview Lane Marina and Portside Marina. Kelleys Island State Park, on the north side of the island, offers free boat-launching ramps and trailer parking.

Catawba Island/Port Clinton/Marblehead

Named for the variety of grapes commonly grown here, the Catawba Island peninsula offers a historic winery, two modern micro-breweries, rolling orchards, and farm markets. Nearby Port Clinton is known as the “Walleye Capital of the World” for good reason. Here you’ll enjoy world-class fishing, beaches, sightseeing, shopping, and entertainment. The adjacent Marblehead peninsula features eclectic shopping and art galleries, as well as the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes.

A public boat launch is available at Catawba Island State Park, while Catawba Island Club offers a full-service private marina. Transient docks are offered at Shrock’s Marina, Tibbles Marina, and Lakevue Marina in Marblehead, as well as Lakefront Marina in Port Clinton.


Sandusky is known for its revitalized downtown featuring the Sandusky State Theatre, museums, art galleries, waterfront parks, unique shops, and fantastic dining. Cedar Point amusement park is in Sandusky as well with a large marina adjacent to the park, making easy access to family fun. Several indoor water park resorts entertain families year-round. In Huron it’s all about beach-living with excellent fishing opportunities, championship golf courses, and live entertainment at the Huron Boat Basin Amphitheater. Vermilion is reminiscent of a New England coastal seaport that embraces its nautical heritage. A quaint downtown offers delicious dining options, beautiful flowers, and fun shopping.

Transient boaters are welcome at a number of local marinas including Cedar Point and Castaway Bay marinas in Sandusky, as well as the Sandusky Yacht Club for members of yachting associations and clubs. Huron welcomes guests at Mariner Village Marina and Vermilion offers Valley Harbor Marina, Romp’s Water Port, and two Municipal Docks.

Boaters visiting Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands should be aware of Ohio’s boating laws and regulations. Contact the Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Watercraft at for information. The local U.S. Coast Guard Station can be reached by marine radio at VHF-FM Channel 16.

With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to see why Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands is ideal for boat-lovers. Get ready to start coasting!

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