Apostle Islands Meyers Beach

Crowds at Meyers Beach

Meyers Beach is the busiest location in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (AINL) on any given day. However, it has undergone some changes over the years. Previously, visitors could park their vehicles for free in a gravel parking lot. There were very few structures or improvements, making it a wonderful and wild place to visit. But now, the parking lot has been paved and there is a building for bathrooms. AINL park rangers roam the parking lot, looking to ticket anyone with a vehicle infractions or who forget to pay the new entrance and parking fees.
In the past, if Meyers Beach was too crowded, visitors would go to Mawikwke Road to launch their kayaks. However, the AINL has intentionally stopped maintaining Mawikwe Road and banned the launching of vessels at the end of the road. This forces anyone wanting to launch a kayak to the sea caves to pay the fees at Meyers Beach parking lot. The goal of the AINL is to make sure visitors pay fees for access and parking if they want to go to the Meyers Beach Sea Caves, then they use that money to build larger parking lot and more bathrooms and they just further overcrowd Meyers Beach. if you access the sea caves from anywhere other than the Meyers Beach parking lot, you will not have to pay any fees at all.
Since everyone is forced to launch down Meyers Road at Meyers Beach you have a very crowded situation with people looking for parking spots and everyone trying to make it up and down one staircase wide enough for 2 people. This results it quite a traffic jam at the top of the staircase and things aren’t much better when you get to the bottom. People are tired when they get there sea kayaks down all the stairs and to the beach so they set up all the kayaks right at the end of the staircase, this causes another traffic jam of outfitters giving paddling speeches and private parties launching their kayaks. You will need to go 1/4 away from the stairs in either direction before you get away from the crowds at Meyers Beach.

Kayaking Meyers Beach

Meyers Beach and Devil’s Island are known for having the best sea caves in the Apostle Islands. However, since Meyers Beach is located on the mainland, it is easily accessible, making it the most popular spot for outfitters to conduct tours and for private parties to launch their kayaks. The park headquarters, which benefits financially from parking fees at Meyers Beach, falsely claims that it is the only spot to launch a kayak to the mainland sea caves (Here is a list of all the other mainland sea cave locations) This results in a large number of people heading towards Meyers Beach, creating a long line of kayaks during peak season. Outfitters usually follow the same route, going through the same caves, which leads to a lot of waiting in line. If you are a private paddler or rent a kayak, you can explore other caves or pass the outfitters to get ahead. Meyers Beach is the best location for sea caves, but it can be crowded during July and August. The weather needs to be just right, with waves less than 1′, for safe exploration of the caves. Unfortunately, this only happens about 50% of the time during peak season. As a result, there are only about 30 good days when everyone tries to go to Meyers Beach, resulting in long wait times. It is still worth visiting Meyers Beach at least once, but it is recommended to avoid going with an outfitter during peak season, as there can be up to 20 outfitter-led trips launching with groups of 12, leading to overcrowding and wait times.

Bait and Switch

If you’re planning to book a tour at Meyers Beach through an outfitter, you should be aware that there is about a 50% chance of your tour being altered due to weather i.e. cancelation, alteration, reschedule. Some outfitters may take you to another location if the weather doesn’t permit you to go to Meyers Beach. Be sure you are ok with what your outfitter does in the event of weather cancelation

Before you book a tour, make sure you choose an outfitter that won’t force you to go on a different tour if the weather doesn’t cooperate. It’s worth noting that Meyers Beach experiences unfavorable weather conditions about 50% of the time, so it’s best to be prepared.

Most outfitters have policies in place to deal with this situation, but there are some outfitters that have a reputation for overbooking their Meyers Beach tours. They reportedly sign people up for Meyey’s Beach but when it cancels you are forced to do a different tour rather than being offered the option for a refund, you are forced to paddle next to the caves in waves or you go to a different location than what you signed up for. Be cautious when booking with them, and make sure you’re comfortable with their policies before you commit to a tour.

In our opinion the best outfitter in the Apostle Islands is www.bayfieldkayak.com. They have the best safety record (zero coast guard or NPS rescues) and they always offer you a full refund if your original reservation is altered due to weather. They do not even do tours at Meyers Beach due to the overcrowding. If you plan on going to Meyers Beach, they suggest you take a rental and either follow or lead one of the large groups of outfitters. There are no rules against paddling with their group and when you get to the caves you’ll have the safety of paddling with a group and the freedom of exploring whatever you want at whatever pace you want when you get to the caves.

Meyers Beach Secrets

-There is a secret cave behind the keyhole arch, above the waterline. You can walk around and stand up in it.
-There is an underwater cave inside skull cave that is easy to swim through.
-There are a bunch of amazing underwater caves. The best ones are by the garage or the window cave just after the crevasse
-Explore Mawikwe Rd, know it exists. You get good cell reception at the end of Mawikwe Rd.
-The Meyers Beach hiking trail is not that interesting and it is quite a long walk and very muddy. You can cut out half the distance and most the mud by accessing the trail from Mawikwe Rd
-If you go to the left at the end of the beach staircase and go left for a 1/4 mile you will find Saxine creek. Saxine Creek is the edge of the park boundary and as you pass the creek you are outside the park jurisdiction.
-There is one sea cave outside the AINL boundary that is accessible from Meyers Beach. It is at the tip of Spirit Point.
-sunset is the best time to paddle the Meyers Beach Sea Caves because the lighting is best for that location at that time and the waves tend to be smaller than the 10AM to 4PM period
-The busiest time of day at Meyers Beach is 10AM to 2PM and the busiest time of year is July and August

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