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How Long Is Ferry Ride From Bayfield To Madeline Island


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Corinna Kayser



Welcome to the beautiful and picturesque Madeline Island, located in Lake Superior, near the town of Bayfield, Wisconsin. This charming island is a popular tourist destination, offering stunning natural landscapes, historical landmarks, and a rich cultural heritage. One of the most common ways to reach Madeline Island is by taking a ferry from Bayfield.


The ferry ride from Bayfield to Madeline Island is not only a convenient mode of transportation but also an exciting and scenic experience. As you navigate through the crystal-clear waters of Lake Superior, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and the distant shores of Wisconsin.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Madeline Island has something to offer for everyone. From pristine beaches to well-preserved historic sites, this island is a treasure trove of natural beauty and cultural significance.


In this article, we’ll explore the ferry schedule, the duration of the ferry ride, booking and ticket information, as well as some of the top attractions you can enjoy on Madeline Island. So, sit back, relax, and get ready for an unforgettable journey to this enchanting destination.


Ferry Schedule

The ferry service from Bayfield to Madeline Island operates year-round, allowing visitors to easily access the island at their convenience. The ferry schedule is designed to accommodate both residents and tourists, providing multiple departures throughout the day.


During the summer months, typically from May to October, the ferry offers more frequent departures to meet the high demand. The schedule may vary slightly each year, so it’s advisable to check the official website or contact the ferry service for the most up-to-date information.


On average, the ferry departs from Bayfield every hour or two. The first morning departure is usually around 8:00 AM, and the last evening departure is around 7:00 PM. This allows visitors to plan their day trip or overnight stay on Madeline Island with ease.


During the winter months, the ferry schedule may be reduced due to lower visitor traffic and weather conditions. It’s important to check the schedule in advance, as there may be limited departures or an altered schedule to account for the winter season.


The ferry service from Bayfield to Madeline Island also operates during holidays and special events, ensuring that visitors have convenient access to the island regardless of the time of year.


It’s worth noting that the ferry schedule can be subject to change due to factors such as extreme weather conditions or maintenance. Therefore, it’s recommended to verify the schedule a few days before your planned visit.


Duration of Ferry Ride

The duration of the ferry ride from Bayfield to Madeline Island is dependent on several factors, including weather conditions, the type of ferry being used, and the specific route taken. On average, the ferry ride takes approximately 25 minutes.


The distance between Bayfield and Madeline Island is roughly 2.5 miles (4 kilometers), making it a relatively short and enjoyable journey. As you sail across Lake Superior, you’ll have ample time to take in the breathtaking scenery and appreciate the tranquility of the water.


The ferry service to Madeline Island is usually operated by one of the two companies: the Madeline Island Ferry Line and the Apostle Islands Cruises. These companies offer comfortable and spacious ferries equipped with amenities to ensure a pleasant experience for passengers.


During the ferry ride, you can relax on the outdoor observation decks and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding islands and shoreline. The ferry captains and crew provide informative commentary about the area’s history, geography, and points of interest, enriching your journey with fascinating facts.


It’s important to note that during inclement weather conditions, such as heavy winds or storms, the duration of the ferry ride may be slightly longer. Safety is the top priority, and the ferry companies will adjust their operations accordingly to ensure a smooth and secure crossing.


Overall, the short duration of the ferry ride from Bayfield to Madeline Island allows visitors to easily access the island and spend more time exploring its natural beauty, engaging in water activities, or indulging in the island’s local culture and attractions.


Booking and Ticket Information

Booking your ferry ride from Bayfield to Madeline Island is a straightforward process, and there are several options available for purchasing tickets.


1. Online Booking: The most convenient way to secure your tickets is by booking online through the official websites of the Madeline Island Ferry Line or Apostle Islands Cruises. These websites provide updated schedules, ticket prices, and the option to reserve your tickets in advance. Online booking is highly recommended, especially during peak tourist seasons, to avoid any last-minute availability issues.


2. Phone Reservations: If you prefer to book over the phone or have specific inquiries, you can contact the ferry companies directly. They have dedicated customer service representatives who can assist you with ticket reservations and provide any necessary information.


3. On-site Ticket Purchase: Tickets can be purchased directly at the ticket booths located at the Bayfield dock or the Madeline Island dock. However, during busy periods, there might be long queues, so it’s advisable to arrive early or consider online booking to save time.


When booking your tickets, it’s important to consider the number of passengers, including adults, children, and infants, as ticket prices may vary. Also, note that there may be different ticket options available, such as round-trip or one-way tickets, depending on your travel plans.


It’s recommended to arrive at the ferry dock at least 15-30 minutes before the scheduled departure time to ensure ample time for check-in and boarding. During peak seasons, it’s advisable to arrive even earlier, as the ferry may reach maximum capacity and prioritizes passengers with pre-booked tickets.


Lastly, keep in mind that ticket prices for the ferry ride from Bayfield to Madeline Island are subject to change. It’s a good idea to check the official websites or contact the ferry companies directly for the most up-to-date information on ticket prices and any special promotions or discounts that may be available.


Attractions on Madeline Island

Madeline Island is a treasure trove of natural beauty, historical landmarks, and cultural attractions. Once you step foot on the island, there is no shortage of activities and sights to explore. Here are some of the top attractions to check out:


1. Big Bay State Park: This expansive park on Madeline Island offers stunning sandy beaches, hiking trails, and picnic areas. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, enjoy a refreshing swim in Lake Superior, or hike through the forested trails to witness breathtaking views of the surrounding area.


2. Madeline Island Museum: Immerse yourself in the rich history and heritage of the island at the Madeline Island Museum. Learn about the Ojibwe Native American culture, the fur trade era, and the island’s significance in shaping the region’s history. The museum features exhibits, artifacts, and engaging storytelling.


3. La Pointe: Explore the charming village of La Pointe, located on Madeline Island. The village is home to art galleries, boutique shops, and local eateries where you can savor delicious regional cuisine. Take a stroll through the town’s historic streets and soak in the relaxed island atmosphere.


4. Tom’s Burned Down Café: A quirky and iconic local establishment, Tom’s Burned Down Café is a must-visit spot on Madeline Island. This unique outdoor bar and restaurant is constructed from salvaged materials and offers live music, refreshing drinks, and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.


5. Apostle Islands: While technically not on Madeline Island, the Apostle Islands are a short boat ride away and are worth exploring. Known for their scenic beauty and pristine wilderness, the Apostle Islands offer opportunities for kayaking, camping, lighthouse tours, and hiking.


6. Beaches and Water Activities: Madeline Island boasts several beautiful beaches, including Big Bay Town Park Beach and Joni’s Beach. Spend a day sunbathing, swimming, or building sandcastles along the shoreline. Additionally, you can rent kayaks, sailboats, or stand-up paddleboards to enjoy the vastness of Lake Superior.


7. Madeline Island School of the Arts: Delve into your creative side by participating in an art workshop at the Madeline Island School of the Arts. This renowned institution offers classes in various artistic disciplines, such as painting, pottery, photography, and writing.


Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or a relaxing getaway, Madeline Island has something for everyone. Explore the island’s natural wonders, immerse yourself in its history and culture, and create unforgettable memories on this captivating destination.



With its idyllic location in Lake Superior and its wealth of natural beauty, Madeline Island is a true gem that has captured the hearts of visitors from all over. The ferry ride from Bayfield to Madeline Island is not only a convenient mode of transportation but also an experience in itself, offering remarkable views and a sense of tranquility.


By following the ferry schedule and booking your tickets in advance, you can seamlessly embark on a journey to Madeline Island. Once you arrive, you’ll discover a plethora of attractions waiting to be explored. From the pristine beaches of Big Bay State Park to the rich history of the Madeline Island Museum, there is something for every type of traveler.


Whether you choose to relax on the sandy shores, immerse yourself in cultural experiences, or embark on outdoor adventures, Madeline Island offers endless possibilities. The island’s charm lies not only in its natural landscapes but also in its warm and welcoming community.


As you depart from Bayfield and make your way towards Madeline Island, relish the beauty of Lake Superior, breathe in the fresh air, and take in the breathtaking sights. Let the serenity of the water set the tone for your journey as you anticipate the wonders that await you on Madeline Island.


So, whether you’re planning a day trip or a longer stay, be sure to schedule your ferry ride, book your tickets, and prepare for an unforgettable experience. Madeline Island is ready to welcome you with open arms and to share its unique blend of natural splendor, historical significance, and vibrant culture.