Kayak to the Mainland Sea Caves

Added by Allison Herreid

Explore beautiful sandstone sea caves in the Apostle Island National Lakeshore.


Start your paddle from Meyer’s Beach just off of Highway 13. There is a $5 fee to park in the lot at Meyer’s Beach. At the parking lot there is an area to unload your gear near the stairs that lead to the lake, down which you will need to carry your boat & gear. The area is usually staffed by the Apostle Islands NPS and they can provide information on the current lake condition and whether or not it is safe to paddle. Before heading out you can check wave conditions at Sea Caves Watch where they also provide recommended wave heights for various paddling abilities.

Don’t have your own gear? There are several outfitters in the area that rent sea kayaks and provide guide services. Follow this link to a list of businesses that are authorized by the National Park Service to provide guide services to the public.


Once you’ve carried your gear down to the lake, you’re ready to begin your paddle along the beautiful sandstone caves and cliffs of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Upon launching, paddle east along the shore. It is a simple trajectory--you can see the cliffs you’ll be paddling to from Meyer’s Beach. It is about one mile until you reach the first cliffs. Once at the sea caves, watch out for rebounding waves which can make handling your kayak difficult if not impossible if you are inside the caves. Pay attention to the weather forecast (wind speed & direction, wave height) before heading out. South or southwest winds generally provide the calmest conditions for this particular paddle.

At ~1.2 miles you will come to a huge crack in the shoreline, aptly named “the crack,” where you can paddle fairly deep into the crevasse but will likely have to paddle backwards to get out. Continue paddling and exploring the caves for as long as you feel comfortable. After The Crack you will come to the iconic Keyhole and continue on to explore even more caves. Keep paddling until you reach a stack of rocks that is separated from the shore (2.9 miles from Meyer’s Beach). Head back to Meyer’s Beach after reaching this point.


Lake Superior waters are cold and weather conditions can change very rapidly. Always be alert for changing weather conditions. You may need to change your plans if conditions make it too risky to be on the lake. The National Park Service recommend that all kayakers have a wetsuit and spray skirt.

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Kayaking the caves

Absolutely beautiful! So much fun I can’t wait to go again.

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