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How Long Is The Ferry Ride To Manitoulin Island


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Jodi Meltzer



Are you planning a trip to Manitoulin Island, one of the most breathtaking destinations in Canada? If so, you may be wondering how long the ferry ride to Manitoulin Island is. Situated in Lake Huron, Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater island in the world and offers stunning natural beauty, charming small towns, and a rich Indigenous culture.


Embarking on a ferry ride to Manitoulin Island is not only a means of transportation but also an opportunity to soak in the tranquil surroundings and enjoy the scenic journey. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of the ferry ride to Manitoulin Island, including the departure point, ferry schedule, travel duration, scenic routes, onboard amenities, ticket prices, alternative transportation options, and tips for a smooth journey.


Whether you are a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, Manitoulin Island offers something for everyone. From the tranquil forests and clear blue waters to the vibrant arts and cultural scene, there is no shortage of activities and attractions to explore on this enchanting island.


So, let’s embark on a virtual journey as we delve into the details of the ferry ride to Manitoulin Island and discover the beauty that awaits.


Departure Point

The departure point for the ferry ride to Manitoulin Island is located in Tobermory, Ontario. Tobermory is a charming coastal town situated at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula, known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and rugged landscapes.


You can reach Tobermory by car, bus, or shuttle service from various major cities in Ontario. If you are driving, the journey to Tobermory offers stunning scenic views and can be an adventure in itself.


Once you arrive in Tobermory, you will find the Chi-Cheemaun ferry terminal conveniently located in Little Tub Harbour. The terminal is easily accessible and well-signposted, making it easy to find your way. There are ample parking facilities available for those traveling by car.


If you choose to take public transportation, there are bus services that connect Tobermory with nearby cities such as Owen Sound and Toronto. Shuttle services are also available from select locations, providing a convenient and hassle-free option for travelers.


Before departing from the terminal, it is recommended to arrive early, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure you have enough time to purchase tickets and board the ferry. The departure point in Tobermory offers a quaint and picturesque setting, allowing you to soak in the charm of the town before embarking on your journey to Manitoulin Island.


Ferry Schedule

The ferry to Manitoulin Island, known as the Chi-Cheemaun, operates on a seasonal schedule, with variations in frequency and departure times depending on the time of year. It is important to check the schedule in advance to plan your trip accordingly.


During the peak summer season, which typically runs from May to October, the ferry operates multiple times a day, offering more flexibility for travelers. The exact schedule may vary, but generally, there are morning, afternoon, and evening departures from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island.


In the shoulder seasons, such as spring and fall, the ferry schedule may be reduced, with fewer daily departures. It is advisable to check the schedule and plan your trip accordingly during these times.


It is worth noting that the ferry schedule is subject to change due to weather conditions, maintenance, or other unforeseen circumstances. Therefore, it is always recommended to confirm the schedule a few days before your planned departure.


To access the most up-to-date ferry schedule, you can visit the official website of Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC), the operator of the Chi-Cheemaun ferry. The website provides detailed information on departure times, dates, and any schedule changes or updates. You can also contact the OSTC directly via phone or email for any specific inquiries or concerns.


Planning your trip in advance and keeping an eye on the ferry schedule will help ensure a smooth and timely journey to Manitoulin Island.


Travel Duration

The travel duration for the ferry ride to Manitoulin Island can vary depending on a few factors, including the weather conditions, the time of year, and the specific route taken. On average, the ferry ride from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island takes approximately two hours.


During the journey, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the scenic views of Lake Huron and its surrounding landscapes. The ferry sails through the waters, offering a relaxing and picturesque experience. You can witness the beauty of the clear blue waters, the islands scattered along the route, and the stunning natural scenery that surrounds Manitoulin Island.


It’s important to note that the travel duration may be slightly longer during periods of high demand or adverse weather conditions. The captain and crew prioritize the safety and comfort of all passengers, so occasional delays or adjustments to the schedule may occur to ensure a smooth journey.


While the ferry ride duration is relatively short, it is recommended to plan your itinerary accordingly, especially if you have connecting transportation or specific activities scheduled upon arrival. Taking into account the ferry ride duration will allow you to make the most of your time on Manitoulin Island and fully enjoy all that it has to offer.


Whether you choose to relax and take in the breathtaking views or use the travel time to read a book, chat with fellow passengers, or grab a snack from the onboard amenities, the ferry ride to Manitoulin Island is an integral part of the overall experience of visiting this scenic destination.


Scenic Routes

When it comes to scenic routes, Manitoulin Island and its surroundings offer a plethora of breathtaking landscapes and picturesque views. Whether you are traveling by car or on the ferry, there are several routes that allow you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area.


If you are driving to Tobermory to catch the ferry, consider taking the Bruce Peninsula route. This scenic drive takes you along the rugged shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, offering stunning vistas of cliffs, rocky shores, and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The route also passes through the Bruce Peninsula National Park, where you can take short hikes to marvel at the iconic Flowerpot Rocks and explore the forested trails.


As you board the ferry in Tobermory, get ready to embark on a visual feast. The ferry ride itself offers spectacular sights as it navigates through the pristine waters of Lake Huron. You can witness the beauty of the islands dotted across the lake, the distant shoreline, and the vast sky above. Keep your camera handy as there will be countless opportunities to capture memorable moments.


Once you arrive on Manitoulin Island, you can further explore the scenic routes by car or bicycle. The island is home to numerous lakes, forests, and charming towns that are worth visiting. The Circle Route, which encompasses the perimeter of Manitoulin Island, allows you to explore the diverse landscapes and make stops along the way. You can admire the tranquil beauty of Lake Manitou, explore the hiking trails of Lake Mindemoya, and visit the small communities that showcase the island’s rich Indigenous culture.


For those seeking a more leisurely experience, consider taking a scenic walk along the shores of Georgian Bay or Lake Huron. Manitoulin Island is known for its picturesque beaches and shoreline, offering opportunities for leisurely strolls, beachcombing, or simply basking in the peaceful atmosphere.


Whether you choose to drive, walk, or take the ferry, the scenic routes on and around Manitoulin Island are sure to leave you in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds this pristine destination. Take your time, soak in the sights, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Onboard Amenities

During the ferry ride to Manitoulin Island, you will find a range of onboard amenities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey. The Chi-Cheemaun ferry is equipped with facilities to cater to the needs of passengers and enhance the overall experience.


One of the main amenities onboard is the spacious passenger lounge area. The lounge provides comfortable seating where you can relax and take in the scenic views during the journey. Whether you prefer a window seat to admire the surrounding landscapes or a cozy corner to read a book, the lounge offers a welcoming and serene atmosphere.


The ferry also features a café or snack bar where you can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a cup of coffee. This gives you the opportunity to indulge in some refreshments during the voyage. The menu typically includes a variety of snacks, sandwiches, hot beverages, and beverages.


For those wanting to learn more about the history and culture of the region, there may also be informational displays or exhibits onboard. These displays provide insights into the geological, environmental, and cultural significance of Manitoulin Island and its surroundings.


Additionally, the ferry is equipped with restrooms that are clean and well-maintained for the comfort and convenience of passengers. Whether you need to freshen up before reaching your destination or simply take care of nature’s call, these facilities are readily available.


It’s important to note that specific amenities may vary depending on the ferry and the schedule. To get a better idea of the amenities available on your particular ferry ride, it is recommended to check the official website or contact the ferry operator directly.


Overall, the onboard amenities on the ferry to Manitoulin Island add an extra level of comfort and convenience to your travel experience. Whether you want to relax, enjoy a snack, or learn more about the region, these amenities ensure that your journey is both pleasant and memorable.


Ticket Prices

When planning your ferry ride to Manitoulin Island, it is important to consider the ticket prices to account for your travel budget. The cost of ferry tickets can vary depending on several factors, including the passenger’s age, vehicle type (if applicable), and the time of year.


The ticket prices for the Chi-Cheemaun ferry are typically based on a one-way or round-trip basis. Adult fares are generally higher than child fares, and there may be discounted rates available for seniors or other specific groups. It is advisable to check the official website or contact the ferry operator directly to obtain the most accurate and up-to-date information on ticket prices.


If you are planning to bring a vehicle on the ferry, such as a car, camper, or motorcycle, there will be an additional fee. The price for vehicles varies depending on the size and type of vehicle. It is recommended to inquire about vehicle fares in advance to ensure you have the necessary information for planning your trip.


Special rates or packages may be available for certain occasions or promotional periods. The ferry operator may offer discounted fares during off-peak seasons or for group bookings. Keep an eye out for any promotional deals or offers that could help you save on your ferry ticket costs.


It is important to note that ticket prices are subject to change, and it is always recommended to check the most recent prices before making your booking. By being aware of the ticket prices in advance, you can effectively plan your trip and allocate your travel budget accordingly.


Remember to purchase your ferry tickets in advance to secure your spot, especially during peak travel seasons when demand is high. This will help ensure a smooth and hassle-free boarding process when the time comes for your journey to Manitoulin Island.


Alternative Transportation Options

While taking the ferry is the most popular and convenient way to reach Manitoulin Island, there are alternative transportation options available for those who prefer different modes of travel or want to explore different routes.


1. Flight: If you prefer a faster and more direct option, you can consider taking a flight to Manitoulin Island. Manitoulin East Municipal Airport, located near Little Current on the island, offers domestic flights connecting to major cities in Ontario. This option is particularly convenient for those who have limited time or prefer to avoid long drives or ferry rides.


2. Chartered Flights: If you have a larger group or want a more personalized experience, you can arrange for a chartered flight to Manitoulin Island. Several charter companies offer services that can accommodate your specific needs, including departure location, schedule, and number of passengers.


3. Drive: Another alternative transportation option is to drive to Manitoulin Island via the road network. You can access the island by crossing the famous swing bridge in Little Current. This option allows you to enjoy a scenic drive through Ontario and offers flexibility in terms of stops and exploring nearby attractions along the way.


4. Bicycle or Motorcycle: For the adventure-seekers and nature enthusiasts, traveling to Manitoulin Island by bicycle or motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience. The island offers picturesque routes and scenic trails that allow you to explore at your own pace and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the surroundings.


It’s important to note that some alternative transportation options, such as flights or chartered flights, may require prior reservation or booking. It is advisable to check the availability, schedule, and any specific requirements for these options in advance.


Whether you choose to take the ferry, fly, drive, or embark on a two-wheeled adventure, Manitoulin Island welcomes visitors through various transportation options. Consider your preferences, budget, and available time to select the mode of transportation that best suits your needs and allows you to fully enjoy the journey to this captivating destination.


Tips for a Smooth Ferry Ride

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable ferry ride to Manitoulin Island, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. Arrive early: It is recommended to arrive at the ferry terminal in Tobermory well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. This will allow you enough time to purchase tickets, board the ferry, and get settled before departure.
  2. Check the schedule: Before heading to the ferry terminal, check the ferry schedule to confirm the departure times and any possible changes due to weather conditions or other factors. Keeping updated will help you plan your trip accordingly.
  3. Make reservations: If you are traveling during a busy period or with a large group, consider making reservations in advance. This ensures that you have a spot on the ferry and can avoid any potential disappointment.
  4. Pack essentials: Be sure to pack any essentials you may need during the journey, such as snacks, water, sunscreen, and weather-appropriate clothing. Having these items on hand will ensure your comfort throughout the ride.
  5. Keep valuables with you: When disembarking from your vehicle, it is advisable to take any valuables or important belongings with you. While security measures are in place, it’s always best to keep your personal items close at hand.
  6. Follow instructions and safety guidelines: Pay attention to the crew’s instructions and any safety guidelines provided during the ferry ride. This ensures the well-being of all passengers and a smooth and orderly journey.
  7. Enjoy the scenery: Take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the stunning scenery as you sail across Lake Huron. Find a comfortable spot, whether inside the passenger lounge or on the deck, and take in the breathtaking views.
  8. Respect the environment: Manitoulin Island is a pristine destination known for its natural beauty. Help preserve the environment by respecting the surroundings, disposing of waste properly, and being mindful of the impact you have on the ecosystem.
  9. Plan your onward transportation: Before disembarking on Manitoulin Island, make sure you have a plan for onward transportation, whether it’s arranging a rental car, booking a taxi, or scheduling a shuttle service. Having a plan in place will ensure a smooth transition upon arrival.
  10. Embrace the experience: Lastly, embrace the journey and enjoy every moment of your ferry ride to Manitoulin Island. Take the opportunity to relax, connect with fellow travelers, and immerse yourself in the anticipation of the adventures that await you on this enchanting island.

By following these tips, you can have a seamless and memorable ferry ride experience to Manitoulin Island, setting the stage for a fantastic exploration of this captivating destination.



Embarking on a ferry ride to Manitoulin Island is not just a means of transportation but an integral part of the overall experience of visiting this stunning destination. From the moment you step onboard the ferry in Tobermory, you are greeted with the anticipation of a scenic journey that immerses you in the tranquil beauty of Lake Huron and its surrounding landscapes.


Throughout this article, we have explored various aspects of the ferry ride to Manitoulin Island, including the departure point, ferry schedule, travel duration, scenic routes, onboard amenities, ticket prices, alternative transportation options, and tips for a smooth journey. Armed with this information, you can plan your trip effectively and ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience.


Whether you choose to take the ferry, fly, drive, or venture on two wheels, the journey to Manitoulin Island is a gateway to natural wonders, charming towns, and a rich Indigenous culture. The ferry ride serves as a captivating prelude to the stunning landscapes, sparkling lakes, and serene forests that await you on the island.


As you sail across the pristine waters and witness the islands dotted across the horizon, don’t forget to pause, take a deep breath, and fully embrace the beauty of the journey. Whether you’re traveling alone, with family or friends, or seeking a solo adventure, the ferry ride to Manitoulin Island sets the stage for a truly memorable experience.


So, pack your bags, check the ferry schedule, and get ready to embark on a captivating journey to Manitoulin Island. Whether you’re captivated by the natural beauty, intrigued by the cultural heritage, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, this enchanting island promises to leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul.


So, sit back, relax, and savor every moment of the ferry ride as it carries you to Manitoulin Island, where breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable memories await.