Explore the Wreck of the Francisco Morazan - South Manitou Island

Leland, Michigan



2 miles

Route Type



Added by James Brady

Distance: 400 yard swim roundtripExplore a unique shipwreckTwo mile hike from ferry dockHiking trails to a lookout and along the shore

The Francisco Morazan is a unique shipwreck in that it is near shore and is still largely above water. South Manitou Island features some great hiking trails, and many people hike to the overlook to view this wreck, but few swim out to it. Sitting approximately 200 yards offshore, the Francisco Morazan sits in 10-15 feet of water and is accessible for experienced swimmers.

The shipwreck can be reached by day hikers by hiking along the well marked two-mile trail that runs from the ferry dock to the shipwreck overlook. The adventure can also be extended into a multi-day camping trip on South Manitou Island by camping at the Weather Station campground, which is a little under a mile from the ferry dock. The Francisco Morazan is approximately one mile west of the Weather Station campground and can be accessed by following the well marked trail to the shipwreck overlook, or by walking along the shore.

The view from the overlook is very impressive, however there is no easy way to get down to the beach from there. You can scramble down the bluff, which is roughly 100 feet high, with slight difficulty, or you can avoid doing this by hiking along the beach from the Weather Station campground. If you choose to do this, be prepared to walk in Lake Michigan at times as the shoreline is impassable in a few small areas.

The wreck itself sits approximately 200 yards offshore and in 10 to 15 feet of water. Pack in life-vests, flippers, snorkels, and goggles to assist you with your swim to the wreck. The wreck has many interesting features to explore, however it is slowly falling apart and has many twisted and exposed edges. Any swimmers exploring it should take great care to watch where they are swimming. The lake was quite rough during our first attempt to explore the wreck and we were forced to give it a wide berth. Thankfully, the next day the water was very calm and we were able to explore the wreck up close. I highly suggest you put some time into exploring the Francisco Morazan if you find yourself on South Manitou Island and consider yourself to be a capable swimmer.

Please note, swimming in Lake Michigan and exploring shipwrecks have inherent risks. Please take all necessary precautions if you decide to explore the Francisco Morazan.

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