Door County On The Water

Surrounded by the glistening blue waters of Lake Michigan and the bay of Green Bay, as well as home to several inland lakes, spending time on the water is a must for every vacationer’s trip to Door County!

Door County on the water

Tucked between the bay of Green Bay on one side and the bright blue waves of Lake Michigan on the other, water is an integral part of Door County’s culture, often known for fish boils, shipwrecks, and stunning rock formations. Not only that, but Door County is one of the rare places in Wisconsin where you can watch the sun both rise and set on the water! Spending time on the water is a must for every vacationer’s trip to Door County, but where should you start? With boat tours for newcomers and history buffs, parasailing and tubing for adrenaline seekers, and paddling and diving for adventurists, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on the water!

1. Paddling Galore!

Kayak tours are a great way to explore the peninsula from a new perspective—and maybe discover a shipwreck or two!

Paddleboards, kayaks, canoes—oh, my! Whether you’re an avid paddler or just starting out, Door County has a plethora of personal boat launches or kayak tours around the peninsula. Door County Kayak Tours offers tours around Cave Point County Park and Whitefish Dunes State Park, and Peninsula Kayak Company takes tours along the rock formations in Peninsula State Park and even offers sunset tours! Most of these businesses offer rental paddleboards as well, which you can take on the lake or practice yoga on!

Insider Tip: If this is your first time kayaking or paddleboarding, it’s highly recommended to start with a guided tour on the Green Bay side of the peninsula. The water is far warmer and less choppy, which is perfect for beginners to start learning!

2. Scenic Boat Tours

Some seasonal tours include viewing Fourth of July fireworks from the water, live music during the evenings, and even a Sunday morning church service!

It’s commonly asked what the best boat tour in Door County is, and the answer is that it depends on what you’re looking for! If you would like a romantic sunset cruise in Ephraim on a sailboat, then Bella Sailing Cruises or Sail Door County are your best options. If you want to learn more about Door County’s natural history and the rocky bluffs carved by glaciers centuries ago, try Door County By Water, which takes you to Peninsula State Park and the historical Eagle Bluff Lighthouse. Similarly, Door County Boats offers tours to Death’s Door Crossing and Horseshoe Island. With Shoreline Boat Tours, you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of an old shipwreck beneath the surface in Baileys Harbor!

Insider Tip: Most of these tours are a couple hours long, or even longer! You can bring your own food or beverages on these tours, so stop by a local café or restaurant for a quick grab ‘n go!

3. Boat Rentals

Many rentals in Door County have tubing and waterskiing equipment available for an added adventure!

Jet skis, speedboats, pontoons, sailboats, runabouts—you name it, we’ve got it! There’s nothing better than exploring the peninsula in your own personal watercraft. You can find boat rentals anywhere in Door County, from Sturgeon Bay all the way up to Gills Rock. Door County Boat Rental offers almost any watercraft imaginable for rent, plus waterski and tubing gear if you’re looking to have some fun! Door County Jet Skis specializes in—you guessed it—jet skis, which you can ride on to Cave Point, Peninsula State Park, and even Washington Island, if you’re feeling adventurous.

Insider Tip: If you’re visiting during late summer, which is the best time to be on the water, it’s recommended to book your boat rental a few months in advance to avoid high rental fees, older models, or the inability to book a rental at all!

4. Shipwreck Diving

There are over 200 known shipwrecks in Door County, and divers can explore about 25 of them!

Want to get up close and personal to Door County’s famed shipwrecks? Try snorkeling or diving! Most wrecks are visible by kayak, resting in less than 60 feet of water, so they’re easily accessible for snorkelers. For those that are over a hundred feet underwater, more specialized and professional diving equipment will be necessary. At this time, there aren’t any diving tours available in the county, but beginners can still see shipwrecks from a scenic kayak tour!

Insider Tip: It’s always recommended to go diving with a partner! If you’re interested in seeing the shipwrecks in deeper water, make sure to do thorough research about the conditions in Lake Michigan and check the weather before you go.

5. Fishing

Most fishing charters in Door County will stay out on the water until you’ve caught a fish – and it’s not as difficult or rare as it seems!

Door County is one of the best fishing destinations in the country, and it’s no mystery why. Bass, trout, salmon, walleye, the famed whitefish, and so many more can be found in either the bay or lake side of the peninsula. Bring your own fishing boat or find a rental in the county and cast a line for the day. For beginners to the sport, there are several fishing charters with experts who can teach you everything to know about Door County fishing, such as Silver Strike Fishing, Fin Pursuit Fishing Charters, and Kinn’s Sport Fishing.

Insider Tip: Before you embark on your trip, make sure to get a fishing license for everyone over 16 in your party! If you’re new to fishing and not sure if you want to get licensed yet, the state of Wisconsin offers Free Fishing Weekends in the third full weekend of January and the first full weekend in June.

6. Inland Lakes

These waters are much calmer and easier to navigate than the bay or Lake Michigan, but they have just as much to offer in terms of exploration and natural scenery!

Did you know that Door County has inland lakes, too? In fact, there are six! There are plenty of opportunities to spend time on the water outside of the bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan! Kangaroo Lake is the largest inland lake on the peninsula, with a maximum depth of 12 feet and separated into two parts, the developed southern side and the undeveloped northern side. This lake is perfect for relaxing on a paddleboard, fishing in calm waters, or exploring serene, untouched nature. The smaller lakes are similar—with maximum depths ranging from seven feet to as little as three feet, these bodies of water are best suited for quiet fishing, light swimming, and reclining in a hammock over the crystal-clear surface.

Insider Tip: The bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan are popular spots for high-speed and exciting watersports, like jet skiing, tubing, and sailing. If you’re looking for a calmer and more easygoing atmosphere, check out one of these smaller inland lakes that are some of Door County’s best-kept secrets.

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