Located in northern Wisconsin, the Apostle Islands is a group of 21 islands in Lake Superior, just off the Bayfield Peninsula. Madeline Island is not considered part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

The islands are known for their enchanting beauty with sandy beaches, crystal clear lake waters, soaring cliffs of reddish sandstone, and magnificent arches and sea caverns that develop impressive ice formations during the winter.

One of the best ways to explore this breathtaking paradise is by navigating its waters and sea caves on a kayak. While paddling across Lake Superior waters is certainly an adventure unlike any other, it can also be a potentially dangerous experience especially if weather conditions take a turn for the worse.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, paddlers will need to know their limits, be familiar with all their equipment, check the weather forecast, and be ready at all times to adapt to Lake Superior’s constantly changing environment.

In this article, we will give you a few safety tips and other things to keep in mind before going on an Apostle Islands kayaking trip:

Weather Conditions

During bad weather, Lake Superior can have rough waters, poor visibility due to fog, cold temperatures, and unexpected squalls. Keeping a close eye on marine weather forecasts and being vigilant with changing conditions is a must.

Daytime high temperatures average 60 degrees Fahrenheit in May, the upper 70s during mid-summer, and the mid-60s every September. Lows range from around 40 degrees in May, the upper 50s during mid-summer, and 50 degrees in September. Average water temperatures in May and June are typically in the 40s. Surface temperatures rarely go past 60 degrees even in the late summer. Summer winds are about 5 to 20 knots on average, with waves reaching 1 to 4 feet high.


The National Park Service strongly discourages the use of open boats less than 16 feet in length, canoes, and sit-upon or open cockpit type kayaks to get from island to island. Wet or dry suits are recommended, especially during in spring and fall, when there is a high risk of hypothermia.

Boaters are required to have at least one US Coast Guard-approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD) for every person on board. The PFD should be worn at all times while on the waters. Other required items include an extra paddle, paddle float, bilge pump, compass, spray skirt, charts, throw bag, tow line, and VHF radio.

All paddlers should prepare for potential weather delays by having additional provisions for at least one extra day.


Sea kayaks typically ride low on the water’s surface, which makes them difficult to spot by other boaters, especially in rough waters. Remember to stay vigilant and always be on the lookout for approaching boats. Use your paddle or flag as a signal for other boaters. You can improve visibility by selecting a brightly colored boat or wearing bright clothing.

Avoid paddling through sea caves in rough seas. Handling your boat can be an impossible task due to rebounding waves and shorelines near sea caves do not provide safe landing sites.

When calculating distances between your destination points, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to cover your intended route. Beginners should paddle under 10 miles per day, while experienced paddlers should paddle under 15 miles. Remember to inform a friend or relative about your trip, so they can alert officials in case you are overdue.

You can view a list of authorized outfitters who offer Apostle Islands kayaking trips here.

If you would like to know more about Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and other great destinations around Wisconsin, talk to us at Windseeker Realty! Call [ai_phone href=”1.715.779.5000″]715-779-5000[/ai_phone], or send an email to [mail_to email=”Agent@WindseekerRealty.com”]Agent@WindseekerRealty.com[/mail_to].

Be sure to check out our other blog articles this month!

For first-time home buyers looking for helpful info on the home buying process, we have prepared a list of some of the most important things to keep in mind when buying a new home.

For home sellers, we have this handy guide that can show you several staging tips and techniques that will help you sell your home for top dollar.

Want to visit some of the best attractions and destinations in Wisconsin? Plan your next trip by reading about some these incredible destinations in The Badger State.

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