beaver island michigan

Beaver Island, MI
St. James Harbor

Lat: 45° 44.803   Long: 085° 36.069

Quick Reference:

  • Port Type: Village
  • Monitors VHF: 9, 16
  • Charts: NOS 14902/911
  • Customs: No
  • Coast Guard
  • Transient Docking
  • Anchorage
  • Diesel
  • Gasoline
  • Potable Water
  • Pump Out
  • Washrooms
  • Showers
  • Laundry
  • Repair Services
  • Provisions
  • Pharmacy
  • Hospital/Clinic
  • Banks/ATM
  • Restaurants/Pubs
  • Shopping
  • Internet
  • Amenities
  Important Numbers

Area Code231
Police(231) 448-2700
Hospital(231) 448-2275


Harbor Distance (nm) Harbor Distance (nm)
Du Tour Village, MI 78 NE Manistique, MI 34 NW
Mackinac City, MI 40 NE Washington Is., WI 79 SW
Charlevoix, MI 28 SE Manitowoc, WI 152 SW
Traverse City, MI 63 S Chicago, IL 283 SW


Located at the north end of Lake Michigan, Beaver Island is the largest island in the lake. It is part of a group of islands known variously as the Beaver Island Archipelago, The Beaver Island group, or simply, 'the Beavers'. There are 12 small islands in the group but only Beaver Island is inhabilted.

The history of Beaver Island Michigan reads like a piece of fiction - yet its all true!

From Napoleon on Lake Ontario (here) to the pirate Dan Seavey on Lake Michigan (here), there is no end of unique and strange stories about our fabulous inland seas. In that vein, let me introduce you to a crowned king who lived on Lake Michigan - James Jesse Strang. Strang, a Wisconsin lawyer, was a Mormon in the early days following the establishment of that religion. Strang was a charismatic leader and when Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion was murdered, Strang led his followers in 1847, to Beaver Island in Lake Michigan.

Over the next decade, they built a solid, thriving community that prospered from selling fish and timber to the many passing trading ships that plied the Great Lakes. Along the way, in 1850, he was crowned king of Beaver Island. Needless-to-say, this did not go over well with the US government and a USN warship was dispatched to arrest him for treason. He was duly arrested and transported to Detroit for trial. A powerful speaker, Strang was acquitted and returned to rule Beaver Island. As King, he also sat for two terms in the Michigan state legislature. He was not a nice guy and was more feared than loved. In 1856, a US naval ship docked at Beaver Island. Invited to dine with the Captain, Strang was shot in the head as he walked to the ship. Although it was witnessed, no-one said a word to warn him - a testament to the esteem he was (not) held in. The ship departed shortly thereafter carrying the murderers and their families to parts unknown. No charges were ever laid. Upon his death, hundred of Mormons left for Wisconsin. Those who remained were set upon by mobs from the mainland, burnt out and forced to flee for their lives. The kingdom died with Strang.

Following the ouster of the 'Stangite' community, the island saw an influx of Irish settlers. Some came from the mainland and others from County Donegal on the northwest coast of Ireland. For many years, Gaelic was commonly spoken. By the mid-1800's, these Irish fisherman were the largest suppliers of fresh-water fish in the entire United States. That is ironic as the O'Donnell's in Donegal were known as the 'Lords of Fish' in the early middle ages for the vast quantities of fish they supplied to mainland Europe.

By WWII, the fishing industry had collapsed due to overfishing. Many people ended up leaving the island. By the 1970's, tourism began to emerge as as a major economic activity. Today, Beaver Island is a very popular destination for tourists and for cruising sailors. And indeed, evidence of its Irsh heritage is everywhere on what they fondly call 'America's Emerald Isle'.


The only harbor on Beaver Island is St. James Harbor. Located at the north end of the island, the approaches are clear.

From the South and East
Note the pair of unlit buoys C"1" (GREEN) and N"2" (RED) marking the channel entrance into St. James Harbor. Follow a course of approximately 287°T until you clear the marker buoy R"4", a Fl RED light. It lies approximately 0.1 nm off Sucker Point. Sucker Point itself is marked by St. James Light, an ISO RED, visible 6.5 nm.

Note also the shoal off Luney Point, south of St. James Harbor. It is marked with buoy G"1", a Fl GREEN with bell.

From the North and West
Note the location of buoy G"1", a Fl GREEN light between Garden Island and the northeast tip of Beaver Island. The waters off Beaver island shoal to a depth of 1 ft/.3 m so carefull navigation is called for. This passageway is a good place to use clearing lines (described here). Two clearing lines converging on buoy G"1" would give you a safe water 'funnel', ensuring you did not wander into hazardous water. You could also draw a transit line from buoy N"6" to G"1" giving you a course to follow of 105°T.


Beaver Island Municipal Marina   (231) 448-2252  VHF 9, 16
Beaver Island Municipal Marina has about 3 dozen slips available for sailors. The marina will take reservations up to a week before arrival which can add peace of mind when sailing out to visit the island. There is no fuel dock. There is a pumpout station. Water and power are available of each slip. The marina building has restrooms, showers, a laundry facility and a lounge. There are picnic areas and BBQ grills. Internet access is available at the marina.

Beaver Islandl Marina   (231) 448-2300  VHF 16
Beaver Island Marina is a private marina with 50 slips - a number of which are set aside for transient sailors. There is a fuel dock (diesel and gasoline) and a pumpout station. This is a full-service marina able to carry out engine, mechanical, electrical and fibreglass repairs. There are restrooms, showers and laundry facilities available. They have picnic areas with BBQ grills. They will take reservations.

It is possible to anchor south of the ferry docks and in other shallow areas of the inner harbor.


Beaver Island Marina - (See above)

McDonough Market is a well-stocked grocery store that can handle all of your provisioning requirements. It is located .25 mi/.4 km from the municipal marina.

Charlevoix State Bank has both counter and ATM service. It is located .25 mi/.4 km from the municipal marina, near the grocery store.


Beaver Island Rural Health Center (213)448-2275 is a medical clinic providing emergency and urgent care services. It is located 1.3 mi/2 km from the municipal marina.

There is no pharmacy on Beaver Island.


The Shamrock Bar and Restaurant is a traditional favorite for visiting sailors. The Restaurant at Beaver Island Lodge located within the Lodge offers an upscale dining experience. Stoney Acre Grill and Pub has a traditional breakfast/lunch/dinner menu. They will pick you up at the marina as its a bit of a walk to get there. Dalwhinnie Backery and Deli serves a great breakfas (big!)t and is well-known for their fresh baked pastries.


Beaver Island Michigan can be a great place to wander, explore and just 'get away from it all'. There are beaches to enjoy and miles of abandoned logging roads to hike and bike. Mid-July sees the Music in the Woods Festival. Toward the end of July and into early August, the Beaver Island Cultural Arts Association holds the annual 10 day Baroque in Beaver festival. Mid-August is the Beaver Island Jazz Festival. There are arts and studio shops to explore in the village.

This Beaver Island MI information site will give you ideas of more things to do and see while visiting the area.

Return from Beaver Island Michigan to Lake Michigan

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