North Manitou Island is managed as wilderness with the exception of a 27 acre (11 hectare) area around the Village. Visiting the island is a primitive experience emphasizing solitude, a feeling of self-reliance and a sense of exploration. The primary visitor activities are backpacking and camping. Travel in the wilderness area is by foot only. Deer hunting is also allowed on the island each year during the late fall.
The island has seen the heyday of the lumber industry, has known farming, has watched a lighthouse and the U.S. Life-Saving Service come and go, and has been an escape for summer residents seeking solitude.Today,little remains of these activities. A few buildings are scattered throughout the island. Some appear usable while others are in obvious decay. Small family cemeteries are a sign of the time when residents once populated the island. The village area is composed of houses which were once used as summer homes or hunting lodges.
Wilderness camping regulations are in effect on North Manitou Island. A backcountry permit and fee payment must be completed before camping. The Village Campground contains eight designated campsites, two fire rings and one outhouse. There is a limit of two tents and four people per site.
North Manitou Island is accessible only by boat.
Manitou Island Transit operates a commercial walk-on passenger ferry which is based at the Fishtown Dock located in Leland, Michigan. For reservations contact Manitou Island Transit at (231) 256-9061.