Though Great Lakes waterways are picture-perfect on a calm day, rough seas and unpredictable storms have claimed many ships too, giving Michigan a rich shipwreck history. The best way to see that history up close is on glass bottom shipwreck tours in Michigan.
Because these waters have claimed so many ships, the lake bottoms are dotted with schooners, steamers, and barges, many of which are carefully preserved.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see those shipwrecks up close? If you have, you’re in luck because there are several opportunities in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula for you to see these beautiful relics.
Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours on Lake Huron
If you’re seeking out glass bottom boat shipwreck tours in Michigan, start on Michigan’s Sunrise Side along the shores of Lake Huron in Alpena & Cheybogan.
Alpena Shipwreck Tours | Alpena MI
Alpena, and Lake Huron by extension, are home to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which protects almost 100 shipwrecks.
Board the Lady Michigan and prepare for an unforgettable shipwreck tour in Lake Huron’s Shipwreck Alley, complete with friendly narration by your guide.
There’s something that’s equally fascinating and eerie about seeing these incredible ships at the bottom of the lake, and a tour guide is on hand to answer all your questions.
The Lady Michigan has plenty of room to explore and many of the wrecks are still intact, making for a great experience as you see Great Lakes history up close.
Unique tour to see wreck remnants, not really recognizable as intact ships. The glass-bottom boat is an easy way to glimpse what divers in the area scout out, and makes for a nice afternoon on Lake Huron. Be aware that getting to and from the actual shipwreck sites takes up the majority of the two-hour time frame. Crew was friendly and entertaining, and offered up some bits of history.– Walker H. via TripAdvisor
When you’re done with the tour, make sure you leave time to visit the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena.
Admission is free and you can learn about and explore more of Lake Huron’s shipwrecks. There are lots of placards and exhibits to see and there are immersive exhibits as well. You can walk over the deck of a full-size schooner and feel what it’s like to be underwater by walking through dive tubes.
The visitor center is open year-round and is fun for all ages. It’s visited by nearly 100,000 people each year, so you know you’re in for something special when you visit.
Nautical North Family Adventures | Cheboygan MI
Continue your quest for glass-bottom boat shipwreck tours in Michigan by continuing up the Lake Huron coast to Cheboygan.
Board the Yankee Sunshine with Captain Jenn for a tour from Nautical North Family Adventures. The tour company, which began operations in 2018, offers an experience that’s equal parts educational, fun, and intimate. You can even borrow the company Go-Pro to document your awesome adventure!
Cast off from port and make your way down the Cheboygan River to Lake Huron. Once you’ve hit the big lake, you can see three different lighthouses as well as three different shipwrecks from as far back as 1891 and as recently as 2010.
If you really want a unique experience, try a sunset cruise where the shipwrecks are illuminated by underwater lights.
We had an awesome trip starting at the Marina and heading up the Cheboygan River through the Cheboygan lock and up to just a little past the confluence with the Black River. The weather was perfect and the fall leaf color was getting closer to peak. We didn’t realize there would be a luncheon, so that was a great bonus. The food was plentiful, unique, and delicious (and I’m a picky eater)! We also got to lock through both ways and learned about the history of the lock and the whole area. We don’t have to go all the way to Sault Ste. Marie to watch the boats in a lock. All-in-all, it was a wonderful experience and we highly recommend it.– Pat K. via TripAdvisor
Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours on Lake Superior
Munising is adored by Michiganders and out-of-state visitors alike for its trips along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
But if you visit, Munising, you absolutely must leave time to do a glass bottom boat tour.
Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours | Munising MI
Munising’s Shipwreck Tours are some of the oldest in the nation and offer visitors a chance to see the underwater wonders of Lake Superior. It’s one of the few places where you can see these turn-of-the-century wrecks on a glass bottom boat.
Trips are seasonal and last about two hours. Excited visitors can see two different shipwreck sites, including the remains of a fully intact wooden ship from the mid-1800s, the Bermuda. You can also see the remains of the Herman H. Hettler who wrecked when seeking shelter in Munising Harbor in November 1926.
Above water, there’s a chance to see Lake Superior’s sandy beaches, a historic lighthouse, and the beautiful shoreline along Munising Bay. All in all, it makes for a fun day of sightseeing and exploring!
This is a must-do! The main draw is, obviously, seeing sunken ships through the glass-bottom sections of the boat. But there are so many more things to see! The views above the water are absolutely beautiful, & our “all-girl Yooper-crew” gave us nuggets of knowledge along the way. Every single thing about this boat ride was just fabulous, & I strongly encourage everyone even mildly curious to DO THIS!– Kate S. via TripAdvisor
Experiencing Glass Bottom Boat Shipwreck Tours in Michigan
There’s no doubt about it: Glass bottom boat shipwreck tours in Michigan are memorable, exciting, and oh so thrilling.
Here’s what one of our writers had to say about their experience seeing Lake Superior shipwrecks in Munising Bay up close:
Three shipwrecks, one lighthouse, and close-up views of Munising Bay.
I departed Munising on a foggy morning around 10 am, excited for what I was going to see. I have to say that the fog added a little flair to the trip, as it brings this ominous illusion to the boat. I did hear that the shipwrecks are easier to see when it is bright and sunny out, but I had no problem seeing them in the fog.
The first site on the trip is the wreck of the Bermuda, a ship that sunk in 1870 from excess weight and a leak in the hull. This shipwreck is less than 12 feet under the surface of the water, letting all the passengers on the glass bottom boat see the ship clearly.
After this sight, the tour continues around Grand Island in Munising Bay and pulls up close to the East Channel Lighthouse for some photo opportunities and to tell a little history about the lighthouse. The lightkeeper raised his family on Grand Island making a great living of $400 dollars a year plus benefits (wood for his fire!).
The second shipwreck comes shortly after a great view of the Grand Island shoreline. The Herman H. Hettler crashed into a rock reef during a storm in late 1926 and was slowly broken apart from multiple winter storms. While all 16 of the crew members escaped, nothing was salvageable and the steamer was left to be broken apart by nature. Today the wreck is scattered around the bay in varying depths. Still, plenty to see, including the captain’s bathtub and commode!
On the way back to the Munising docks, the shipwreck tour shows one more shipwreck that is an unknown wreck. So far no one has been able to identify the story of this ship and there are no records of any ships of this style disappearing. Maybe you can help solve the mystery?
This two-hour tour was interesting as well as being educational! The things that you can see from the glass bottom are amazing. History buffs and children will enjoy this ride – even the youngest children enjoy watching the fish under the surface.
Book Your Michigan Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tour Today
If you love Michigan, its history, and boats, glass bottom shipwreck tours in Michigan are truly the best of all worlds!
There’s something that’s just so peaceful about being out on the Great Lakes, but seeing a shipwreck up close takes the experience to a higher level. These beautifully preserved time capsules to a time long ago remind visitors not only of how treacherous the water can be, but also of how important many of these ships were to Michigan’s economy.
So book a glass bottom boat shipwreck tour and see for yourself just how awesome these shipwrecks are. With a clear view of these ships, you’ll no doubt learn something new and your eyes will light up in wonder, no matter how old you are.