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How Long Is The Ferry Ride To Kelleys Island?


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Jere Edelman



Welcome to the picturesque Kelley’s Island, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Ohio’s beautiful Lake Erie. If you’re planning a trip to this enchanting island, you may be wondering about the ferry ride duration. Sit back, relax, and let us take you on a virtual journey to Kelley’s Island!


Known for its stunning natural beauty, Kelley’s Island offers a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you’re looking to explore the island’s enchanting landscapes, indulge in recreational activities, or simply relax on the sandy beaches, Kelley’s Island has something to offer for everyone.


The island is only accessible by ferry, adding an extra touch of adventure to your visit. The ferry ride to Kelley’s Island is not just a means of transportation; it’s an experience that sets the tone for your island getaway. So, let’s dive into the details of this thrilling journey!


About Kelley’s Island

Located in Lake Erie, Kelley’s Island is the largest American island in the Great Lakes, spanning approximately four square miles. Steeped in history and natural beauty, this island paradise offers visitors a unique blend of outdoor adventures, historical landmarks, and a laid-back island vibe.


One of the main attractions on Kelley’s Island is its fascinating glacial grooves. These deep, carved-out formations were created over thousands of years by the movement of massive glaciers during the Ice Age. Exploring these grooves will transport you back in time and leave you in awe of the forces of nature.


For nature lovers, Kelley’s Island boasts a diverse ecosystem with beautiful beaches, lush forests, and scenic hiking trails. The island is home to several species of birds, making it a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and keep an eye out for the majestic bald eagles that call this island their home.


If you’re interested in history, be sure to visit the Kelley’s Island Historical Association Museum. Here, you can delve into the island’s past and learn about the early settlers, the quarrying industry that once thrived here, and the fascinating stories of the island’s inhabitants.


For those seeking a more relaxed experience, Kelley’s Island offers pristine sandy beaches where you can soak up the sun, build sandcastles, or take a refreshing dip in Lake Erie’s crystal-clear waters. With its tranquil atmosphere and breathtaking views, this island paradise is the perfect place to unwind and recharge.


Now that you have a glimpse into the charm and allure of Kelley’s Island, let’s delve into the practical details of how to reach this captivating destination.


Ferry Options

When it comes to reaching Kelley’s Island, you have a couple of ferry options to choose from. The two main ferry services that operate to and from the island are the Jet Express and the Kelley’s Island Ferry.


The Jet Express is a high-speed passenger ferry that offers a quick and convenient way to travel to Kelley’s Island. Departing from both Sandusky and Port Clinton, the Jet Express provides an exhilarating journey across Lake Erie, allowing you to enjoy breathtaking views along the way. With comfortable seating, onboard amenities, and a knowledgeable crew, the Jet Express ensures a smooth and enjoyable ride.


The Kelley’s Island Ferry, on the other hand, transports both passengers and vehicles to the island. This option is ideal if you plan on bringing your car, bicycle, or other forms of transportation with you. The Kelley’s Island Ferry departs from Marblehead, Ohio, and offers a more economical choice for those traveling with larger groups or equipment.


Both ferry services operate on a seasonal schedule, with varying departure times depending on the time of year. It’s always a good idea to check the ferry company’s website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information on schedules and fares.


Now that you know about the ferry options available, let’s explore how long the ferry ride to Kelley’s Island typically takes.


Duration of the Ferry Ride

The duration of the ferry ride to Kelley’s Island depends on a few factors, including the ferry service you choose and the departure location. On average, the ferry ride typically takes around 20-30 minutes, providing you with a mesmerizing journey across Lake Erie.


The Jet Express, known for its high-speed transportation, takes approximately 20 minutes to reach Kelley’s Island from both Sandusky and Port Clinton. With its sleek design and powerful engines, this ferry service ensures a swift and efficient trip, allowing you to start your island adventure in no time.


If you opt for the Kelley’s Island Ferry, the ride may take a little longer. This ferry service provides transportation for both passengers and vehicles, making it a great choice if you wish to bring your own transportation to the island. The Kelley’s Island Ferry journey from Marblehead, Ohio, to Kelley’s Island can take around 30 minutes, offering ample time to soak in the scenic beauty of Lake Erie.


It’s important to note that these durations may vary slightly depending on weather conditions and other factors that could affect the speed of the ferry. However, rest assured that both the Jet Express and the Kelley’s Island Ferry are experienced in navigating the waters and prioritize passenger safety and comfort.


Now that we have an idea of how long the ferry ride takes, let’s explore some of the factors that can affect the duration of the journey.


Factors Affecting the Ferry Ride Duration

While the average duration of the ferry ride to Kelley’s Island is around 20-30 minutes, several factors can influence the actual duration of the journey. It’s essential to consider these factors to ensure that your plans align with the ferry schedule and that you make the most of your time on the island.


Weather Conditions: One of the primary factors that can affect the ferry ride duration is the weather. Adverse weather conditions, such as high winds or storms, can impact the speed and safety of the ferry. In such cases, the ferry service may need to alter their schedule or even cancel trips for the day. It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast and contact the ferry service before your trip to stay informed about any potential changes.


Passenger and Vehicle Load: The number of passengers and vehicles boarding the ferry can also impact the duration of the ride. During peak seasons or weekends, the ferry may experience higher passenger traffic, leading to longer boarding and disembarking times. If you are planning a trip during these busier times, it’s advisable to arrive early to secure your spot and allow for a seamless boarding process.


Time of Day: The time of day can also play a role in the ferry ride duration. During certain times, such as early mornings or late evenings, when there may be fewer passengers, the ferry service may operate with fewer trips or reduced capacity. This can result in longer intervals between departures, leading to a slightly longer overall journey time. It’s important to check the ferry schedule and plan your travel accordingly.


Special Events or Holidays: Kelley’s Island attracts visitors from near and far, especially during special events and holidays. During these times, the ferry service may experience higher demand and may need to adjust their schedules accordingly. It’s advisable to check for any special events or public holidays that might affect the ferry operations before making your travel plans.


By keeping these factors in mind, you can better plan your journey to Kelley’s Island and ensure a smooth and enjoyable ferry ride experience.


Now, let’s move on to some tips to make your ferry ride to Kelley’s Island as comfortable as possible.


Tips for a Comfortable Ferry Ride

Preparing for your ferry ride to Kelley’s Island can enhance your overall experience and ensure a comfortable journey. Here are some tips to make the most of your time on board:


Arrive Early: To avoid any last-minute rush, it’s advisable to arrive at the ferry terminal early. This will give you ample time to park your vehicle, purchase tickets, and board the ferry without any stress. Arriving early also allows you to secure a good seat and enjoy the views during the ride.


Dress Appropriately: Depending on the weather and season, Lake Erie can be breezy or chilly, so it’s important to dress in layers. This will allow you to adjust your clothing as needed during the ferry ride and ensure your comfort. Additionally, don’t forget to bring a light jacket or sweater to stay cozy onboard.


Plan Ahead for Amenities: While both the Jet Express and the Kelley’s Island Ferry offer onboard amenities, such as food and refreshments, it’s a good idea to bring snacks and drinks of your own, especially for longer rides. Packing some snacks and water will ensure that you have something to munch on during the journey.


Enjoy the View: The ferry ride to Kelley’s Island offers stunning views of Lake Erie and the surrounding landscapes. Take advantage of this time to relax, soak in the natural beauty, and snap some memorable photos. Whether you choose to sit inside the cabin or on the deck, make the most of the journey by enjoying the picturesque sights.


Stay Hydrated: It’s essential to stay hydrated during your ferry ride, especially during hot summer days. Bring a water bottle along and make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the journey. Keeping yourself hydrated will ensure that you stay comfortable and refreshed during the trip.


Observe Safety Instructions: The ferry crew prioritizes passenger safety, and it’s important to follow their instructions. Pay attention to any safety briefings or guidelines provided and familiarize yourself with the location of life jackets and emergency exits. By adhering to these instructions, you can have a safe and worry-free ferry ride.


By keeping these tips in mind, you can have a comfortable and enjoyable ferry ride to Kelley’s Island, setting the stage for an unforgettable island adventure.


As we conclude our virtual excursion to Kelley’s Island, we hope that this information has provided you with a better understanding of the ferry ride duration and how to make the most of your journey. So, pack your bags, hop on the ferry, and get ready for an incredible island experience on Kelley’s Island!



As we bring our journey to a close, it is evident that the ferry ride to Kelley’s Island is not just a means of transportation, but a memorable experience in itself. With options like the Jet Express and the Kelley’s Island Ferry, you can choose the best ferry service that suits your preferences and travel needs.


The duration of the ferry ride typically ranges from 20-30 minutes, offering you a short but scenic journey across Lake Erie. However, factors such as weather conditions, passenger load, time of day, and special events can influence the duration of the trip. Being prepared and staying informed about these factors will help you plan your journey effectively.


To ensure a comfortable ferry ride, arrive early, dress appropriately, and bring snacks and drinks. Take the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking views of the lake, stay hydrated, and follow all safety instructions provided by the ferry crew.


Kelley’s Island, with its natural beauty, glacial grooves, historical landmarks, and laid-back atmosphere, promises an unforgettable island getaway. The ferry ride sets the tone for your adventure and acts as a gateway to discovering all that this enchanting island has to offer.


So, whether you’re planning a day trip or an extended vacation, hop on board the ferry, immerse yourself in the beauty of Lake Erie, and get ready to create cherished memories on Kelley’s Island.


Plan your trip, pack your bags, and let the ferry ride transport you to a world of natural wonders, rich history, and pure relaxation. Kelley’s Island awaits your arrival!